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 in what circumstances one is able to drill into a party wall and the depth of drilling that is legally permitted.
When am I permitted to drill into a Party Wall?
Under the provisions of the Party Wall Etc. Act 1996 certain building works that are intended to be carried out by a building owner must not be commenced without the building owner first notifying and obtaining consent from all or any affected neighbouring parties. Within a Party Wall Notice to a neighbouring party a building owner must disclose the works to be carried out and the methods to be used. For example, whether there is an intention to drill or cut into a Party Wall, the depth and area of the Party Wall that will be effected. The neighbour will either, consent to the proposed works being carried out, come to an agreement with the building owner or refuse consent in which case a dispute will be considered to have arisen under the Act and a surveyor will have to be appointed to compile a Party Wall Agreement.
When can I drill into a Party Wall without my neighbours consent?
As can be seen from the preceding paragraph, there are certain works that have been specified as works that must not be carried out prior to a building owner gaining consent from all or any adjoining owners. However, permission need not be obtained by a building owner for works that are considered to be of a minor or trivial nature. Such works might include; drilling into to a party wall to put units or shelves up or perhaps to place wall sockets and light switches or a television or speakers onto the wall; cutting into a party wall to place or remove wiring or shallow pipes for a dishwasher or washing machine. Re-plastering or removal of plaster from party walls might also be considered as minor works that are permitted to be carried out without either notifying or gaining consent from a neighbouring party.
What depth of drilling that is legally permitted?
Whatever the case may be, there is no fixed rule under the Party Wall Act with regard to how far a party may drill into a Party Wall. This is usually agreed between the building owner and any affected adjoining owners by way of consent to the Party Wall Notice, or, is specified in the Party Wall Agreement. However that is not to say that there are not any other Statutory or Regulatory provisions that may apply. An example might be drilling into a party wall that is considered to be a fire Wall. One might also consider what works and/or drilling is actually permitted to be carried out under a leasehold agreement. As a rule of thumb, any works that may affect the land, buildings or structure of property belonging to an adjoining neighbour are notifiable under the Act and thus require consent prior to the commencement of any proposed works.
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.