If you’re thinking about extending your property in any way, you need to know about party wall agreements. If you decide you want to stay in your property and extend rather than move house, you might be thinking about an extension, new layout or conversion. If you need to bring the builders in, you might need a party wall agreement.
The Party Wall etc Act 1996 was brought in to limit disputes between neighbours. It ensures that no changes can take place on a property without informing the neighbours. Neighbours cannot object without good reason, but it does mean that you will need to keep your neighbours' interests in mind when planning any building work.
Before any building work can take place, you will need to create a Party Wall Agreement, or Party Wall Award, with your immediate neighbours. This applies to any situation where you have an adjoining property. This includes shared walls between terraced and semi-detached properties, walls between flats and even garden walls.
A Party Wall Agreement, or Party Wall Award, is required for things like loft conversions, digging foundations for extensions, cavity wall insulation and even changes to a shared garden wall. A Party Wall Award protects both homeowners from disputes.
The Party Wall Agreement needs to include the following information:
You need to serve a Party Wall Agreement before moving forward with building works. The standard notice includes a form for your neighbours to sign if they are happy with the proposals.
If your neighbours agree, you can move forward with building works but you will need to observe the guidelines you set out in your proposal. So if you’ve stated that work will begin at 8 am and finish at 3 pm, you can’t have the builders arriving at 6 am with loud equipment.
If your neighbour does not respond or objects to the plans, then you will need to secure a Party Wall Award. You will need to instruct a surveyor to draw up the Party Wall Award. This can be more costly, so it is beneficial to get your neighbours on board with your plans before serving notice.
If there is no Party Wall Agreement, advice is often to speak to your neighbours and include them in your planning. They will feel more reassured that the plans will not damage their property or reduce their enjoyment. This is often easier than securing a Party Wall Award, as you will be liable for the surveyor fees and you won’t be able to move forward without this permission.