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What is a Party Wall?

A party wall is the shared wall, usually between a terrace or semi-detached house, and divides the homes of two separate owners, but also includes garden walls built over a boundary and excavations close to a neighbour’s property.

When may I need a Party Wall Agreement?

Party Wall Agreements are commonly needed for building works that involve loft conversions, but also the insertion of damp courses and digging of new foundations.  Contour Architectural Designs Ltd ("Contour Designs") can advise and support you if your planned conversion or extension requires a Party Wall Agreement.

How do I get a Party Wall Agreement?

Firstly, you have to give two months written notice to the owners of all adjoining properties on building works which affect a party wall.  This is done by issuing a written Party Wall Notice.  Serving notice can be done for free, using appropriate standard forms available from the internet.  Secondly, your neighbours then have fourteen days to respond, through which, there are three possible overall outcomes:

  1. If the adjoining owner responds within 14 days, and consents to the works in writing then you can commence the proposed works; or
  2. If the adjoining owner responds within 14 days, and dissents to the works in writing then both parties would enter into a dispute resolution process with a qualified party wall surveyor to agree a Party Wall Award; or
  3. If the adjoining owner fails to respond within 14 days, firstly a further request to appoint a party wall surveyor would follow which would give the adjoining owner a further 10 days to respond.  Again both parties would enter into a dispute resolution process with a qualified party wall surveyor to agree a Party Wall Award.

In the case of either (b) or (c), the adjoining owner can agree to use your own surveyor, they can choose to appoint their own independent surveyor or both of you can agree to use a third-party but impartial surveyor to work through the points of the dispute and draft the Party Wall Award which is then enforceable in the could should any deviation occur.  At the point that works are consented (either through case (a) or following the agreement of a Party Wall Award, Contour Designs recommend undertaking a schedule of condition prior to works starting to ensure that all parties cannot later bring a dispute for damage to the property that pre-existed any works being undertaken.

How long do I have to start the works?

Once notice has been served, you have up to a year to start the work.

What are the Potential Mistakes I could make?

  1. not chatting to neighbours before issuing the Party Wall Agreement.  Often this can smooth any potential problems before they occur.
  2. not providing adequate notice.
  3. not informing all the affected adjoining owners, this includes the freeholder and anyone with a leasehold longer than a year.  If you live in a terraced house, neighbours on both sides may be affected depending on the works. If you are a homeowner living next to flats, may need to serve notice on a number of different people. You can check property ownership via the Land Registry.
  4. not describing the proposed work precisely enough or not including sufficient information on the notices.  Notices about excavations, for example, need to include full structural details.
  5. not using the standard, or wrong form of notice.  The form of notice for excavating foundations is different from a party wall.  You should be mindful that your chosen building project may need more than one type of notice served on each affected neighbour.

What do I need to do now?

If you want see how Contour Designs can help you understand your obligations under the party wall act, why not take a look at our website -  www.contour-designs.co.uk to find out more.  As part of our advisory process, we have written a more detailed information sheet on the application of the Party Wall Act which you can find here.  If you want to see what other services Contour Designs offer, these are listed under our Services page.  Alternatively, you can contact us directly using our Contact Us if you have specific questions or want to arrange an initial consultation.

Our Core Services

Site / Building Surveys

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Planning Permission & Architectural Designs

3D Artists Impressions

Building Regulations Drawings

Structural Design

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Get In Touch

For more information on precisely what our architectural consultants and designers can do for your project simply pick up the phone and call our office on 01268 690974 or send a message through our contact page. Whether you’re making a general enquiry or wish to discuss a specific project, a member of our team will be only too happy to help.

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