When you share a wall with a neighbour, it’s known as a party wall. And if you plan on carrying out any building work near or on a party wall, you’ll need a party wall agreement before getting started. This includes work on party structures, and even party fence walls like a garden wall that might form part of a building. It’s a type of planning permission, and works can include extensions and even general upgrades. Unfortunately, getting an agreement is crucial if you want to carry out work around the wall. Here, we have everything you need to know!
What is a party wall agreement?
A party wall agreement is a document drawn up and signed by property owners who share a party wall or a wall located on the boundary line between two adjoining properties. If, for example, you live in a semi-detached or terraced home, the party wall would be the one that forms both parts of your and your neighbour’s property.
The arrangement outlines the rights and responsibilities of each property owner regarding the maintenance, repair and use of the party wall. They are standard when one needs building works that involve loft conversions, the insertion of damp-proof courses and if new foundations need digging.
Is it a legal requirement to have a party wall agreement?
In many cases, having a party wall agreement is not a legal requirement. There are, however, specific circumstances in which it is required by law. For example, suppose you plan to do any work on a party wall, such as building an extension or making structural alterations. In that case, you must have one in place before proceeding. Subsequently, it’s essential to ensure that both property owners agree with the work being carried out.
What does a party wall agreement include?
It typically features several details and provisions, such as:
- The names and addresses of the property owners involved
- A description of the party wall and the properties it separates
- The rights and responsibilities of each property owner regarding the party wall.
The agreement may also include provisions for resolving disputes or disagreements (if any) about the party wall. In addition, it may feature details concerning the costs of maintaining and repairing the party wall. They may also include specific clauses about the work to be carried out. Such as the type of work, the timeline for completion and any special requirements or restrictions that must be adhered to.
Can my neighbour refuse the party wall agreement?
Yes, your neighbour can refuse to sign upon the proposed work when you serve notice. If, however, you plan to carry out work on a party wall that is required by law to have in place, you can obtain a party wall award from a surveyor. This outlines the terms and conditions for the work needing to be carried out.
It has the same legal force, and your neighbour must comply with its terms. Still, the best move is to reach out to your neighbour in the hope of finding a mutually acceptable agreement regarding the party wall. It’s the best way to avoid disputes and legal action further down the line.
Reaching an agreement with your neighbours
Communicating openly and honestly with your neighbours is vital to reach an agreement. This can be done through face-to-face meetings, phone calls and even written correspondence. In some cases, it may be helpful to involve a neutral third party, such as a mediator or appoint a party wall surveyor, to facilitate the negotiation process. It’s also a good idea to be prepared to compromise and consider your neighbours’ concerns and needs.
When negotiating a party wall agreement, some key points to consider and discuss with your neighbours include:
- The purpose of the work you are planning to carry out on the party wall. And how it will affect the party wall and your neighbours’ property.
- The timeline for completing the work, as well as any potential disruptions or inconvenience it may cause.
- The costs of maintaining and repairing the party wall, and how these costs will be shared.
- Any special requirements or restrictions that must be adhered to when carrying out the work. Including obtaining permits or following specific building codes.
The goal of the negotiation process should be to reach an agreement that is fair and reasonable for both parties. And clearly defines the rights and responsibilities of each property owner concerning the party wall.
What happens if you don’t have a party wall agreement?
Without a party wall agreement in place, you may be in violation of the law and could face legal action from your neighbour if you still plan on carrying out the work. In some cases, your neighbour may get an injunction to stop the work from being undertaken until one is in place. Plus, if the work you plan on carrying out causes damage to your neighbour’s property or affects the stability of the party wall, you could be liable for any resulting costs or damages.
Even if you are not planning to do any work on a party wall. It may be worth having an agreement in place. This agreement can prevent disputes and misunderstandings between you and your neighbour. While providing a clear framework for resolving issues that may arise in the future.
It’s always best to have one in place to protect your own interests. And to maintain a good relationship with your neighbours.
Work you must tell your neighbour about
By law, you must must give written notice to the adjoining owners at least 14 days before the work begins. This notice should include details about the work, its start date, and any other pertinent information. Known as a “party wall notice,” it must be served to your neighbour at least two months before the work begins. The party wall notice should include specific information. Such as the type of work, the location of the party wall, and the timeline for completing the work.
The types of work that you must notify your neighbour about under a party wall agreement include:
- Building an extension or other structure that will be built up to or against the party wall
- Making structural alterations to the party wall, such as cutting into the wall to create new openings
- Excavating near the party wall if the excavation is deeper than the foundation of the wall
- Installing new services, such as pipes or cables, in or under the party wall
How much does a party wall surveyor cost?
A party wall surveyor can cost anywhere from £150 to £1,500. In some cases, the surveyor’s cost may be shared between the property owners involved. While in other cases, the property owner carrying out the work may be responsible for the total cost. It’s always a good idea to get a quote from a surveyor before hiring them so that you have a clear understanding of the costs involved.
It’s party time
A party wall agreement is important if you wish to carry out work on or near your wall, which is shared with the neighbour. Failure to get one could lead to more hassle than it’s worth. But with everything in place, you can have work starting on your house with your neighbour’s full consent.
Last Updated: November 13th, 2023