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 works need a party wall agreement?

If your property is a semi-detached or terrace 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 of a neighbour or even a neighbours structure (such as a garage or outbuilding).

You must tell your neighbour if you want to:

  • Build on or at the boundary of your 2 properties
  • Work on an existing party wall or party structure
  • Dig below and near to the foundation level of their property

Examples of this type of work include:

  • Building a new wall
  • Cutting into a party wall
  • Making a party wall taller, shorter or deeper
  • Removing chimneys from a party wall
  • Knocking down and rebuilding a party wall
  • When do you need a party wall agreement?

At least two months (or even three months) before any work commences you may need to serve notice to all owners of any building affected by your proposed build. Depending on your proposed start date, we recommend this is carried out as soon as possible.

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

If the neighbours owners consent to the notice, you wouldn’t need a party wall agreement or party wall award, and works can go on ahead. However, if they do not respond or dissent, then you’ll need to carry out the party wall agreement, prepared by the surveyor.

What does a party wall agreement cover?

Should the neighbour dissent and a party wall agreement is 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; normally 8am to 5.30pm weekdays
  • 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.

Do I need a party wall surveyor?

We always recommend a party wall surveyor write your notice as it’s vital these are issued correctly, however, it is possible for the homeowner to write these using the templates in the Party Wall Booklet.

In some extreme cases, a third surveyor may be required to manage disputes between two surveyors. More than likely, you’ll never have to engage with this silent surveyor.

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 the process cost?

For the notices, surveyors may charge around £120 to write a notice to be served on your behalf. We can recommend a company who can prepare this for you. Alternatively, you can draft your own using examples set out in the Party Wall booklet.

If the neighbour dissents, then fees set out below should be expected. There are three scenarios following dissent of a letter:

1.The neighbour agrees to use your suggested surveyor. This would be an agreement to use a shared surveyor between both parties. Our recommended surveyor would charge approx £1000+vat for each award required. This is the cost for each award required, so if multiple neighbours request this, then the fee would increase.

2.Alternatively, the neighbour(s) may wish to use their own surveyor, in which case you should expect to pay both surveyors fees. The surveyor we recommend would charge £1200+vat. 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.

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