What is a Party Wall Agreement?

18th June 2019

A party wall agreement is an agreement between property owners required when certain works are carried out to a party wall (shared wall) or when works are carried out near to an adjoining neighbour (such as excavating within 3m).

What type of work requires a party wall agreement?

If your property is a semi-detached or terraced property and you are planning a loft conversion or house extension, you will more than likely need a party wall agreement. For detached properties, this still may be required as excavations could be within 3m/6m of a neighbour’s structure (either their house, garage or outbuilding).

Examples of when a party wall agreement is required

  • Building a new wall at or beyond the boundary line
  • Excavations within 3m or 6m of a neighbour’s structure depending on depth either for the formation of foundations or drainage
  • Cutting into a party wall (for example, inserting beams into a party wall)
  • Making a party wall taller, shorter or longer
  • Removing/raising chimneys from a party wall
  • Knocking down and rebuilding a party wall

You don’t need to tell your neighbour about minor changes, eg plastering, adding or replacing electrical wiring or sockets, or drilling to put up shelves or cabinets.

When and how to tell your neighbour?

In order to obtain consent, you’ll need to serve a ‘party wall notice’ at least two months before works go ahead. If your neighbour signs & agrees to the party wall notice then a full ‘party wall award’ won’t be needed and work can go ahead (subject to all other paperwork being in order). In this case, you may wish to have a photographic schedule agreed by both parties anyway, to be on the safe side.

***Important: Prior to making a planning application, we suggest having a conversation with your neighbour to let them know that you will be approaching them about the party wall act at the appropriate time, this can help to mentally prepare the neighbour, however, it is also advisable as poor practising surveyors touting for work may write to your neighbour advising that they need to appoint them.

If the neighbour(s) do not respond or dissent, then you’ll need to carry out a party wall award prepared by a surveyor.

Detailed Planning work with party wall surveyors that can write the correct notices for the type of work required. It’s worth noting that sometimes there may be more than one notice required and multiple neighbours that will need to be contacted.

What does a ‘Party Wall Award’ cover?

Should the neighbour dissent and a party wall award be required, the surveyor will usually prepare documents consisting of three parts:

  • The award itself i.e. a set of guidelines governing how the proposed works should progress
  • A “schedule of condition” of the adjoining property, often supported by a set of photographs
  • Drawing(s) showing the details of the proposed works

Other items covered include:

  • Brief details of the proposed works
  • Working hours
  • Assurances regarding the contractor’s public liability insurance
  • Indemnities by the building owner in favour of the adjoining owner
  • Access arrangement for the surveyors
  • A time limit for commencement of the works, usually 12 months
  • The adjoining owner’s surveyor’s fee

Once the agreement has been witnessed and signed, both parties will have a 14 day period to appeal if either one believes the agreement was improperly created.

How long do party wall agreements last?

These are usually valid for 12 months. We, therefore, recommend considering if any other works that may occur at a later date should be included within the notice to avoid serving twice in a year. You’ll also save costs on surveyors fees.

How much does a notice cost and how to prepare one?

For the notices, surveyors may charge around £100+vat to write each notice on your behalf. Alternatively, you can draft your own using examples set out in the Party Wall booklet. However, we do not typically recommend this as small errors can invalidate the notice causing delays. If you do plan to prepare notices, example letters can be found here, with also the appropriate response letters. Guidance on the type of letter notices to be served are listed below, however, other works not listed below still may require a party wall notice.

  • Example Letter 1 – Covers work such as inserting beams/lead flashings/bolts into a party wall
  • Example Letter 4 – Covers works such as a new boundary wall forming an extension
  • Example Letter 6 – Covers works such as a new wall forming an extension close to the boundary
  • Example Letter 8 – Covers works such as excavation for drainage or foundations near a neighbour
***However, rather than writing the notices yourself, our suggestion would be to engage with a surveyor to prepare these on your behalf. You can find a surveyor in your area here. Or contact Arun Associates on 020 8381 3910 or nthind@arun-associates.com who we have worked with previously.
Arun Associates also provide further information on the process here.

What happens if the neighbour dissents and how much would a surveyor charge in this case?

If the neighbour dissents, then scenarios set out below may be expected. Fees are typically paid by the person carrying out the work. There are usually three scenarios following dissent of a letter:

1. The neighbour(s) agrees to use your suggested surveyor. This would be an agreement to use a shared surveyor between both parties. Some surveyors may charge approx £950+vat for the first award required and an additional fee should a second be required.

2. Alternatively, the neighbour(s) may wish to use their own surveyor and you would have your own surveyor, in which case you should expect to pay both surveyors fees. Some surveyors may charge £1000+vat. However, the fee for the neighbour’s surveyor may be up to and around £1500+vat. This could be duplicated for each neighbour that requests this.

3. Your neighbour may be happy for works to proceed with a schedule of condition only. Typically each report would cost £500+vat.

Following receipt of the party wall award, you should provide this to your contractor as it may contain conditions & instructions for the build.

Contact us at Detailed Planning to get started on your project.

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