This blog is not an authoritative interpretation of the law; it is intended as a general guide.
In this blog, Icon Surveyors will be considering what a Party Wall Agreement is and when one is needed to remove a chimney breast.
In the simplest of terms; work’s that are being carried out by a building owner under the, Party Wall etc. Act 1996, must be agreed to by all and/or any adjoining owners. As can be seen below, there are two types of agreement under the Act.
What is a Party Wall Agreement?
Generally speaking, a Party Wall Agreement is a contract that is used to resolve any disputes that neighbouring owners may have when they are carrying out works to which the Party Wall etc. Act 1996, applies. That is to say, under section 1, section2, section 3 and section 6 of the Party Wall etc. Act 1996 (the Act), any building owner who wishes to carry out works pertaining to the Act is legally required to serve upon all and/or any adjoining owners a Party Wall Notice describing the intended works together with any plans or relevant documents. The notice must also state when the intended works will commence and be completed. Any and/or all of the adjoining owners must, within a stipulated time period, either consent or disagree to the works being carried out.
If the adjoining owner(s) consent to the work’s being carried out, no further action need be taken and the works may commence as per the Party Wall Notice. As the adjoining owner has consented to the notified works, technically speaking, this is a Party Wall Agreement.
If however, an adjoining owner or owners do not consent to the works being carried out and/or one or any of them fails to respond to the Party Wall Notice, under section 10 of the Act a dispute is deemed to have arisen. In this instance, in order to ensure that the works may be carried out and that both parties are protected, a surveyor should be appointed to resolve any disagreements that may have arisen. This type of agreement is known as a Party Wall Award.
Does my Chimney Breast sit on a Party Wall?
Firstly, it should be noted that a chimney forms part of the structure of the building. Therefore the removal of a chimney breast must be done properly because it is considered a major structural work that can cause serious damage to a building if it is not removed with care. This is particularly so, if the chimney breast is used by more than one party.
For example, a chimney breast in a terraced house may be used by two parties and would, under the Act be considered as notifiable works under section 3 of the Act. This is also the case where a chimney is shared by owners of apartments housed in a single building.
In answer to the question, if a building owner wishes to remove a chimney breast that forms a part of the structure of a building where two or more parties share the chimney breast, an agreement, be it consent to a Party Structure Notice under section 3 of the Act, or, a Party Wall Award drawn up by an appointed surveyor under section 10 of the Act must be in place before any works to remove a chimney breast may commence.
Icon Surveyors are happy to provide a free consultation to any building or adjoining owners who may be affected by the subject matter raised in this blog.