If you live in a house or an apartment with a common wall involved somehow, you should know what is a Party Wall Agreement. It is a legally binding document covered by the Party Wall Act 1996 that you will require if you are planning a renovation or extension that affects an adjoining property, outbuilding, or a boundary.
The primary purpose of a Party Wall Agreement is to prevent disputes between parties. The highlight of these agreements defines the party responsible for maintaining the party wall and the repercussions if the wall is not maintained. Typically, each owner is responsible for keeping up their part of the wall as per the Agreement.
When do you need a Party Wall Agreement?
You will need a Party Wall Agreement before carrying out construction, renovation, or extension of any sort. Some of them are as below;
- Any work that involves party walls between semi-detached and terraced houses
- Work done on shared party structures such as floors and ceilings of apartments and flats
- Digging within three to six meters of an adjoining property
- Building a second-storey extension over a shared boundary wall
- Alterations made to party wall such as making it thicker or higher
- Repairing of chimneys, wire conduits, fall pipes, drains, sewers and flues shared with a common neighbourhood
Once you have decided to carry out any of the tasks mentioned above, you will need to serve the Party Wall Agreement to the adjoining owner two months before any work commences.
According to the Party Wall Act 1996, your neighbours will have to respond within 14 days; if they agree, you can formulate a Party Wall Agreement without any surveyor’s involvement. However, if the alternate happens, that calls for the hiring of a surveyor.
Works that do not require a Party Wall Agreement
The list of works that require a Party Wall Agreement seems daunting, but not all jobs need it before performing them. These include;
- Slight drilling into the wall for uniting or shelving purposes
- Plastering the wall
- Adding or replacing electrical wirings and sockets on the wall
What does the Party Wall Agreement cover?
It encapsulates the following information;
Overview of how to carry out the work
Pre-conditions of both the adjoining properties with photographs as proof
Addresses of both the properties
Drawings and details of the planned work
Contractor’s public liability insurance details
Details of the surveyors and neighbour surveyor’s fee
Details of the third surveyor (if included)
Guarantees by the building owner in support of the neighbour
The time limit for the construction work to start (typically a year)
What happens if the Neighbours Refuses the Party Wall Agreement
In case your neighbours refuse to give their consent regarding the construction, you need to hire a party wall surveyor who will impartially formulate a Party Wall Award as per the Party Wall Act 1996 instructions and clauses. The award is considered a final call. The dispute is mostly settled here; unless one of the adjoining owners is not happy with the decision and appeals to the county court, filing an ‘appellant’s notice. In this scenario, the court will have concluding words.
Keeping the Party Wall Agreement Safe
The moment both the owners agree to the terms and conditions of the Agreement; it is listed in the pertinent land records, usually at the county clerk’s office. Keeping the agreement safe at the county clerk’s office is very beneficial for the prospective buyers in the future, as they can comprehend the property they are willing to buy in a much detailed manner.
Thus, Party Wall Agreements stipulate obligations around ownership and maintenance for a mutual boundary wall. It averts disputes and settles them in an organized fashion. Besides, it is a helpful tool for business owners, in particular, to avoid hearings over disputes.