As a neighbour of a shared wall, you’re going to need full disclosure of building plans. That includes when and how, and for what. This can all be achieved through a party wall agreement unless otherwise specified (we’ll go over exceptions below). Before the agreement is served, however, you’ll need sufficient notice of work being done. Let’s go over the details of party wall agreements so construction can go smoother than expected.
A party wall is a wall that comes between two separately owned pieces of land. Party walls are often found in semi-detached or terraced homes, as well as any piece of property connected to other similar pieces of property. If a wall is shared with other owners, such as a ceiling or floor of a flat, then the wall is considered a party wall. If any damage or changes are made to the wall, every person within the wall’s ownership gets a say in what happens to it.
In 1996, the Party Wall Act was passed. This act gives building owners extra rights involving work done on existing party walls. For detailed party wall agreements and information, refer to the party wall agreement section of the gov.uk website.
The act was made in order to make property work go smoother. Disputes between neighbors regarding property work and damage were at an all-time high, so rules were instated that prevented and resolved such issues. The act regulates the legal process of notifying affected owners and parties about the potential work done on shared structures. Any building owner planning to perform repairs, adjustments, installments, or removals needs to inform the adjoining flat owners and homeowners.
A party wall agreement is a written agreement made by the neighbors that you share a wall with. If you’re planning to carry out work on your home that also adjoins your neighbour’s home, then you are required to get their written consent. Your neighbors are legally allowed to request changes in the way the work will be performed or its timeline.
In order to create a party wall agreement, you’ll need to serve a party wall notice to your neighbours. This will require information like your name, address, and a detailed account of what you intend to do and when you plan to start work. In the case of this article, if your neighbor is doing a loft conversion, the party wall notice must be given to you and other neighbours involved at least two months prior to the start date.
A loft conversion doesn’t always need a party wall agreement or party wall surveyor. If the planned works don’t involve any construction on shared walls–including them being torn down, rebuilt, or partially removed–then no party wall is needed. If the loft is being built above a detached house or flat, then once again, no party wall is needed because shared walls are unaffected.
In many cases, your neighbour’s loft conversion could involve a beam that is constructed over a column instead of being constructed inside the adjoined wall–this will counteract the need for a party wall agreement. Anything outside the party wall is fair game and doesn’t need an agreement. If their loft conversion plans involve work on walls that adjoin other properties, the law requires a party wall agreement is written up.