Party Wall Act FAQs

About the Party Wall etc Act 1996

  • Primarily to facilitate:
    • Construction work to a shared party wall or stucture;
    • Excavation within certain distances of a neighbour’s structure;
    • Building along a boundary.
  • To protect neighbours affected by works under the Act from ‘unnecessary inconvenience’.
  • To provide a process to agree works affecting a neighbour and which might otherwise escalate to court.
  • Property owners in England and Wales.
  • The Act is a statutory provision (a legal requirement), there is no opting out.
  • The only exception is certain property owned by The Crown and specific court property in London.

​Copy of The Party Wall etc Act 1996

  • A developer or property owner can draft and serve Notices on a neighbour, but they must contain all correct information to be legally valid.
  • We would always recommend speaking to a neighbour about the works before serving a Notice as their ‘consent’ in writing will avoid appointing surveyors and agreeing a Party Wall Award.
  • If a neighbour ‘consents’ to a Notice we always recommend that a schedule of condition of the neighbours property is recorded to protect both parties.

Party Wall Flow Diagram showing step by step process under the Act

  • An application to court may be made to seek an injunction to stop the work or potentially remove works already carried out and make good any damage.
  • The recent court decision for Ormiston-Kilsby versus Fattahi held that works carried out without Notice being served should be removed.
  • A party not complying with the Act whether claiming ignorance of it or attempting to side-step it are extremely unlikely to win favour at a court hearing.

The case of Kaye v Lawrence established that works carried out under the Act will supplant certain common law rights.  Effectively access to a neighbour’s property can be enforced (otherwise trespass) to undertake works falling under the Act and further that a certain degree of nuisance may be caused to execute the works.

  • Building Owner(s): Person(s) or company proposing works;
  • Adjoining Owner(s): Person(s) or company affected by the works;
  • Building Owner’s Surveyor: Surveyor appointed by the Building Owner;
  • Adjoining Owner’s Surveyor: Surveyor appointed by the Adjoining Owner;
  • Third Surveyor: Surveyor who can pass judgement to resolve disputes between Surveyors or escalation by an Owner.
  • Security for Expenses: Security provided to safeguard the Adjoining Owner(s) property;
  • Future costs of enclosure:Payment to a neighbour to enclose upon a party wall previously built by them;
  • Special Foundations:Foundations including reinforcement bars;
  • Notice of Access Letter: Formal advance notice of access to neighbouring land (following agreement of an Award);
  • 10(4) appointment: Appointment of a surveyor where the Adjoining Owner has not responded to a Notice.
  • 10 day letter: A formal letter served on a Surveyor or Owner prompting them to respond within 10 days.
  • Section One: Building astride or abutting the boundary line.
  • Section Three: Numerous works to shared Party Walls / Structures; and cutting projections away from / cutting into a neighbour’s property.
  • Section Four: Counter Notice served by a neighbour requesting certain allowed amendments to the design.
  • Section Six: Excavation works within specified distances of a neighbouring structure.

   Works falling under the Act

  • Firstly, understand if your proposed works fall within the Act, call us if you are not sure.
  • Preferably at ‘Planning Stage’ discuss your proposals with those neighbours who will later require Notice under the Act.  The neighbour is much more likely to ‘consent’ to a Notice if you have been open and honest with them from the outset.
  • ‘Consent’ to a Notice will avoid the need for Surveyors’ fees and for an Award to be agreed.
  • If your neighbour(s) do consent to the Notice(s), ensure a schedule of condition is recorded of their premises and a copy provided to them prior to works commencing.  This detail is extremely important and will protect both parties.

Note: We can provide a cost effective service to just draft and serve valid / legally compliant Notices where requested.

*Important Note: The above FAQs provide only basic information and are intended as general guidance only and are not a substitute for obtaining professional surveying or legal advice.
Still have questions? Contact us and a member of our team will get back to you ASAP.

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Which Party Wall Surveyor should I appoint?

  • Our systems are paperless, quick and efficient;
  • We use the latest software to edit drawings and documents making complicated details easier to understand;
  • Our team is small, specialised and very experienced;
  • Your contact will be directly with your surveyor and not a receptionist or assistant;
  • A good starting point is a Surveyor who is Chartered or a practice that is Regulated by RICS.  Those governed by RICS must meet a minimum standard and a formal complaints procedure is available.
  • Ideally the Surveyor should specialise solely in Party Wall matters as they should fully understand the Act and supporting case law.
  • This varies.  Works in and close to London are generally more than other regions.
  • Surveyors’ charge out rates vary between approximately £150 to £250 per hour.  ‘Third Surveyors’ are usually more.
  • Neighbouring surveyor’s fees are usually paid for by the party undertaking the works.
  • Low fixed cost services are often false economies due to the surveyor not having sufficient fees to do the job properly and having high volumes of work to deal with.

Important Note: The above FAQs provide only basic information and are intended as general guidance only and are not a substitute for obtaining professional surveying or legal advice.
Still have questions? Contact us and a member of our team will get back to you ASAP.

Developers and Home Owners undertaking works – What do I need to know?

  • Involve a Party Wall Surveyor prior to planning design, their advice could change whether works are commercially viable or not:
    • Potentially avoid costly access licences with neighbours;​
    • Potentially avoid works falling under the Act (important where neighbouring buildings have numerous flat owners);
    • Advice on how to maximise the net lettable area of the project.

The Clark Kent Partnership Ltd are happy to provide initial free advice on projects – Please contact us if you would like to discuss your project.

  • Understanding what design information is likely to be requested – we can provide early advice on this.
  • Ensuring the design does not cause ‘unnecessary inconvenience’ to a neighbour or require ‘special foundation consent’.
  • Security for Expenses may be requested by a neighbour which may affect project cashflow.
  • Negotiations regarding access to /  over a neighbour’s property.
  • That your appointed surveyor is very experienced in defect analysis should the neighbour suggest damage.
  • The Notices have different timescales, but for simple works we suggest a minimum of three months.
  • For more complicated and risky works the period is likely to be longer.
  • If a site has numerous boundaries and affected neighbours, your surveyor should be able to estimate a period.
  • The framework of the Act by and large prevents this.  Once a neighbour has appointed a surveyor, that surveyor must act impartially to diligently progress and agree an Award with the developer’s own surveyor.  If this is not the case, the matter can be escalated to the Third Surveyor.
  • Involve a party wall surveyor as early as possible who will be able to provide you with a budget cost for party wall surveyor’s fees, an overview of ‘notifiable’ ownerships, the types of Notices required and whether they should be ‘phased’ and the likely timescales.​

The Clark Kent Partnership Ltd ​have purpose built software to provide ‘layered’ information on pdf drawings thus making complicated sites easy to understand at a glance for each boundary or work phase.

  • Positioning / type of crane to avoid oversail of neighbour’s property, otherwise an access licence will require negotiation.
  • Scaffolding on or over a neighbour’s property (if it is not for works falling under the Act an access licence will require negotiation).

*Important Note: The above FAQs provide only basic information and are intended as general guidance only and are not a substitute for obtaining professional surveying or legal advice.
Still have questions? Contact us and a member of our team will get back to you ASAP.

Neighbours affected by works – What do I need to know?

  • Ideally, if you get on with your neighbour, speak with them about it.  Even if you provide ‘consent’ to the Notice you are still afforded protection by the Act if damage occurs.
  • You have 14 days from date of service of the Notice in which to respond.
  • If you have not responded within those 14 day, don’t worry, a 10 day letter must then be served on you giving you a further 10 days in which to appoint a surveyor.
  • If you later decide to ‘consent’ this is possible, but it is not possible to go from a ‘consent’ to a ‘dissent’.
  • If you have consented the safeguards are more limited as you are effectively communicating ‘I trust you’.  Even if consenting we always suggest a pre-work schedule of condition is recorded, agreed and provided to both parties.
  • If you have appointed a surveyor, they should discuss Security for Expenses with you (where relevant) and also whether you have any particularly sensitive quiet hours or sensitive areas of your building.
  • Your appointed surveyor may appoint an Advising Engineer for comment on the proposals and to flag any obvious concerns.
  • No, not if you prefer not.  The contractor will be provided with a copy of the Award so they may abide by the terms and details contained therein.  We usually suggest that ‘thumbnail’ photos with file reference numbers are shown, but that only the surveyors keep full resolution photos on file should damage be later suspected.
  • Immediately notify your appointed surveyor and preferably take high resolution photos and send these also.
  • Your surveyor will return to your property after the works are complete (unless your damage is urgent) and check the condition of your property against the pre-works schedule of condition recorded.
  • The process of identifying damage and directly relating it to the works is not always obvious or straightforward and therefore probably merits the use of a surveyor.
  • If you have consented to ‘notified works’ the Act does still provide protection.  Should you be unable to agree the cause and remedy of damage with your neighbour a ‘dispute’ will be deemed to have occurred under the Act and a Party Wall Surveyor may then be appointed.  The surveyor will then conclude their findings in an Award and serve upon both parties.

*Important Note: The above FAQs provide only basic information and are intended as general guidance only and are not a substitute for obtaining professional surveying or legal advice.
Still have questions? Contact us and a member of our team will get back to you ASAP.

How can we help?

Our party wall surveying services are tailored to suit the specific needs of both domestic and commercial property owners. We provide direct, jargon free advice to de-risk and expedite your project.

Check our free guide “Simplifying Party Wall Matters” which contains a flow chart to help you determine if you’re going to need an access licence.

Contact us to get a party wall survey quote