The Party Wall Act, established in 1996, outlines guidelines for avoiding and settling conflicts surrounding party walls, boundary walls, and excavation work close to adjacent buildings. The Act applies to both residential and commercial properties in England and Wales. Two properties share a party wall, while a boundary wall separates them.
According to the Act, obtaining a party wall agreement is mandatory before any work is done on a shared or boundary wall. This agreement must be acquired from the neighbouring property owner(s) and should be served by a party wall surveyor. Bearing this in mind, a party wall agreement is a legal document that outlines the proposed work to be carried out, the timeframe for the job, and the rights and responsibilities of both property owners. The agreement also includes details on the insurance, fees, and dispute resolution process in case any conflicts arise during or after the work.
However, party wall agreements often go deeper than what most realise, so we will discuss certain things to know about them. These include:
#1 - A Party Wall Agreement Is Not Included in Planning Permissions and Building Regulations
While planning permissions and building regulations cover many aspects of a construction project, they do not cover party wall agreements. The property owner(s) must ensure that they obtain the necessary party wall agreement before commencing work on a shared or boundary wall. For this reason, securing a party wall agreement is the responsibility of the property owner and not the responsibility of the local council or building regulatory authority.
#2 - Getting a Party Wall Agreement Takes Time
Securing a party wall agreement is not an overnight process. It can take several weeks or even months to obtain one, depending on the complexity of the project and the responses of the adjoining property owner(s). It is recommended that property owners start the process as early as possible to avoid any delays in their construction timeline.
Moreover, the time required to obtain a party wall agreement may also depend on the type of notice served. If a party wall notice is served and the adjoining property owner(s) do not object, the process can be completed relatively quickly. However, the process can take longer if the adjoining property owner(s) raise objections or require alterations to the proposed works.
#3 - There Are Consequences If You Fail to Serve an Agreement Notice
If a property owner fails to serve a party wall agreement notice and carry out works that affect an adjoining property, they can be held liable for damages caused to that property. The adjoining property owner(s) can take legal action against the offending property owner(s) to recover any costs incurred due to the damage.
Suppose a property owner fails to serve a party wall agreement notice and proceeds with works that fall under the Party Wall Act without the knowledge or consent of the adjoining property owner(s). They may be subject to injunctions and even criminal prosecution in that case. For this reason, the responsible property owner must ensure that all necessary party wall agreement notices are served to avoid legal or financial repercussions.
#4 - Expect to Pay between £1000-£3000 to Get a Party Wall Agreement
Party wall agreements are not cheap, and property owners should expect to pay between £1000-£3000 to get a party wall agreement. The cost will depend on several factors, including the project's complexity, the number of adjoining properties affected, and the level of involvement required from surveyors or other professionals.
Property owners should budget and factor these costs into their overall project expenses. It’s worth noting that failure to obtain a party wall agreement can result in even higher prices, as legal fees and damages may be incurred if damages are caused to adjoining properties.
#5 - The Party Wall Agreement Only Lasts for 12 Months
From the time that the party wall agreement is granted, it will last for 12 months. Any work covered by the agreement must be completed within this timeframe, or the property owner must obtain a new agreement. One must plan accordingly and ensure all necessary work is completed within the 12-month to avoid delays or additional costs.
A party wall agreement is necessary to ensure there won't be any disputes or damages between neighbouring properties during construction or renovation projects. While getting one may take some time, it is a crucial step in the process to ensure that all parties involved are protected, especially since it is also a legal requirement. This way, both property owners can proceed with their planned work without unnecessary delays or conflicts.
If you’re looking for party wall surveyors in London, Icon Surveyors can help! Our professional surveyors will ensure all matters and disputes related to your party wall are resolved for the benefit of both parties. Call us today at 020 7493 9087 to get a quote!