Welcome & Introduction
It would be a mistake for the Building Owner to view the requirements of the Party Wall Act as just another hurdle to overcome in the process of undertaking his proposed building works.
The Party Wall Act is after all an enabling Act. Whilst it contains Rights and Duties for both parties it also facilitates the right for Building Owners to undertake works that would otherwise not be allowed.
For example, the Party Wall Act provides the right for Building Owners and their workers under the correct circumstances, to 'trespass' on the Adjoining Owner's land, over sail the land of the Adjoining Owner with scaffolding, temporarily interfere with easements such as to block daylight and to undertake works that would require the underpinning of neighbouring structures and even to expose the Party Wall.
These Rights come with Duties to the Adjoining Owner and the Role of the Surveyor is to ensure that the Adjoining Owner is protected throughout the course of the works. This includes the Award of compensation where appropriate in accordance with the Act as more fully explained in the Overview.
We at 'BH Party Wall Surveyors' would be happy to guide you through the process whether you are the Building Owner or the Adjoining Owner. As a member of the Faculty of Party Wall Surveyors (MFPWS), Bernie is always up to date with the latest thinking on Party Wall matters.
The Party Wall etc. Act 1996 - What works does it cover?
The Party Wall etc. Act 1996 has its origins in The Rebuilding of London Act 1666 passed shortly after the Great Fire of London. The 1666 Act required that the separating walls between buildings be at least two bricks thick to prevent the spread of fire. It also required the house builder enclosing on his neighbours wall to reimburse half the cost of the wall.
While these two functions i.e. of the Party Wall providing protection against the spread of fire, and the requirement to pay compensation for enclosing on a Party Wall, continues to this day, the Party Wall etc. Act 1996 itself has evolved considerably since the 17th Century and now requires the Building Owner to serve a Notice on the Adjoining Owners before undertaking any structural works to a Party Wall. It also includes the requirement to serve Notice before undertaking excavations that could damage neighbouring structures. Even erecting a new wall on the boundary line now requires the service of a Notice.
Typical works which require the Building Owner to serve Notice on the Adjoining Owner are as follows:
a) A new ground floor extension across the full width of the house: As this would require the wall to be built on the boundary shared with the neighbour a Section 1 Notice would have to be served on the Adjoining Owner before the works can commence.
b) The replacement of a garden fence with a brick wall: As this would be deemed a new wall on the boundary line, a Section 1 Notice has to be served.
c) Cutting into a Party Wall to embed beams e.g. when undertaking a loft conversion: As this involves structural works to a Party Wall, a Section 2 Notice needs to be served.
d) The injection of a Damp Proof Course into the Party Wall: As this involves cutting into a Party Wall, a Section 2 Notice needs to be served.
e) Excavation close to neighbouring structures in order to construct a basement: As damage could occur to neighbouring structures, a Section 6 Notice needs to be served.
f) Forming a strip foundation in order to erect a ground floor extension: Depending on the depth of the foundations and their proximity to neighbouring structures, a Section 6 Notice may have to be served.