House Extensions – Party Wall Act
The Party Wall Act 1996 is a piece of legislation in the United Kingdom that regulates the rights and responsibilities of property owners when it comes to building work that affects party walls, party structures, and boundary walls. This law is particularly important for house extensions, as it ensures that neighbours are protected and that any potential disputes are resolved in a fair and structured manner.
What is a Party Wall?
– A party wall is a wall that separates two adjoining properties. It can also include structures like floors and ceilings in the case of flats or semi-detached houses. Party structures are those parts of a building that are shared between different property owners.
When Does the Party Wall Act Apply?
– The Party Wall Act applies when you plan to carry out specific types of building work, including:
– Building on or at the boundary of your property.
– Excavating near a neighbouring property to a depth lower than its foundations.
– Carrying out work on an existing party wall or party structure.
– If your proposed house extension involves work covered by the Party Wall Act, you must serve notice to your neighbours who share the party wall or boundary wall. This notice should be provided in writing, with a description of the work to be done, the intended start date, and the names of both parties involved.
Agreements and Disputes
– After receiving notice, your neighbours can either consent to the work or raise objections. If they consent, you can proceed with the work as planned. However, if they raise concerns, a Party Wall Agreement (also known as a Party Wall Award) may be necessary. This agreement sets out the terms and conditions for the work and usually involves surveyors appointed by both parties to resolve disputes.
– Surveyors play a crucial role in the Party Wall Act process. Each party typically appoints their own surveyor, and if they cannot agree, a third surveyor is appointed to make impartial decisions. Surveyors are responsible for preparing the Party Wall Agreement, which outlines how the work will be carried out, the schedule, and any necessary protections or compensation.
– The property owner undertaking the work is usually responsible for covering the costs of the surveyors and any related expenses, such as repair costs or compensation for damage caused to the neighbours’ property during construction.
Completion of Work
– Once the Party Wall Agreement is in place, the work can proceed according to the agreed terms. After the work is completed, the surveyors inspect the site to ensure it has been done in accordance with the agreement.
It’s essential to understand and comply with the Party Wall Act when planning house extensions or any construction work that may affect shared walls or structures. Failure to do so can lead to disputes and legal issues with your neighbours, which can be costly and time-consuming to resolve. Therefore, it’s advisable to consult with a qualified surveyor or legal professional when dealing with party wall matters during house extensions in the UK.