We understand that Party Wall Surveying matters can be confusing, therefore we have prepared a Frequently Asked Questions page that confirms some of the common Party Wall Surveying phraseologies or terms used by Party Wall Surveyors and both building owners and adjoining owners.

Hopefully, these will help fill in the gaps and assist in your better understanding of the Party Wall Surveying Procedures.

What is a Party Wall Notice?

A Party Wall Notice is served upon the adjoining owner in advance of the notifiable construction works commencing. The Notice is served by a building owner or their appointed Surveyor. The Notice notifies the adjoining owner of the proposed works and affords the adjoining owner three Party Wall Response options.
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Party Wall Consent is confirmed by the adjoining owner, in response to the Party Wall Notice received. The response will reserve the adjoining owner’s rights and protections under remit of the Party Wall etc Act 1996. Enabling the building owner to progress the planned construction works without further Party Wall Surveying formalities being followed.
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Party Wall Dissent is confirmed by the adjoining owner in response to the Party Wall Notice received. The Dissent means the adjoining owner has appointed a Party Wall Surveyor to represent and protect their interests before, during and after the building owner’s construction works.
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Serving a Section 1 Notice of the Party Wall Act, relates to new walls being built up to the boundary line, also known as the line of junction. Serving a Section 1 Notice, allows the building owner to build proposed walls whilst granting the right of access to the adjoining owner’s land.

Serving a Section 2 Notice of the Party Wall Act, relates to building owner’s works taking place directly to a Party Wall or Party Structure. The Section 2 Notice, commonly known as a Party Structure Notice, this Notice allows the building owner to cut into, away from, raise or thicken a Party Wall.

Serving a Section 6 Notice of the Party Wall Act, relates to the building owner’s excavation works. Section 6 Notices are commonly known as a Notice of adjacent excavation, this Notice enables the building owner to dig within 3m to a depth lower than the adjoining owner’s foundation.

The Building Owner’s Party Wall Surveyor means the Surveyor will act on behalf of the building owner. Tasks commonly undertaken by the Building Owner’s Surveyor, serving Party Wall Notices, undertaking a Schedule of Condition Report, liaising with the Adjoining Owner’s Surveyor, prepare and serve the Party Wall Award.

The Adjoining Owner’s Party Wall Surveyor means the Surveyor will act on behalf of the adjoining owner. The Adjoining Owner’s Surveyor responds to the Party Wall Notices on behalf of the adjoining owner, attends the Schedule of Condition Report, request relevant information from the Building Owner’s Surveyor and agrees the Party Wall Award.

The Agreed Party Wall Surveyor is a Party Wall Surveyor who acts impartially upon behalf of the building owner and the adjoining owner. The Agreed Surveyor will undertake all the tasks two Surveyors would, the difference being that he or she acts impartially upon behalf of both owners.

The Third Surveyor is selected at the very start of the process by both the appointed Surveyors. A Third Surveyor’s role is to resolve a dispute between the two appointed Surveyors, they can also enjoin with one of the appointed Surveyors to sign a Party Wall Award in absence of one of the appointed Surveyors.
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When the two appointed Surveyors, cannot resolve a specific dispute or if one of the owners isn’t in agreement with the view of their Party Wall Surveyor a Third Surveyor referral is made. Once the referral is made the Third Surveyor will determine the matter.
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The Building Owner is a property owner who is intending to undertake construction works to their property that are notifiable under the Party Wall etc Act 1996. Prior to commencing their proposed works, Building Owners who wish to commence their proposed work, are legally obligated to serve a Party Wall Notice upon adjoining owner’s a minimum of 1 month for non-structural works, or 2 months for works that are of a structural nature.

The Party Wall etc Act 1996, considers anyone with an interest greater than a year in property the building owner’s Party Wall works have an effect upon, is deemed to be an Adjoining Owner. if a property has a Leasehold and Freehold owner, both will require Party Wall Notices.

The advising engineer is commonly referred to within the Act as a ‘checking engineer’. The role of an advising engineer is to assess the structural risk the planned works carry, as well as to review the building owner’s structural calculations, and specifications from the perspective of the adjoining owner’s property.

Section 12 of the Party Wall etc. Act 1996, deals with Security for expenses. A request for security for expenses must be made in writing before work starts. This is the sum of money varies on a case-by-case basis. The funds are held on account, to safeguard the adjoining owner’s property from potential structural damage or to complete the building works to a safe standard should the building owner leave the works incomplete.
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A Party Wall Award is a legal document that is both drafted and agreed upon by either an Agreed Surveyor or two respective Party Wall Surveyors. Party Wall Awards are served upon completion of the Party Wall Surveying Procedures. The Party Wall Award gives the Building Owner the legal right to commence the construction works covered within the Party Wall etc Act 1996. The Party Wall Award, includes various clauses governing the construction works, ensuring the risks posed to the Adjoining Owner’s properties are kept to a minimum.
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A Schedule of Condition Report is a detailed photographic & written record of a property’s condition. The Report will be undertaken prior to neighbouring works as a form of protection, it will identify the condition of the neighbouring property, ensuring any defects or damage attributed to the neighbouring construction works are identifiable. In some cases, you will find a Schedule of Condition Report adhered to a Lease to limit a tenant’s repairing obligations.
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The building owner cannot commence their notifiable works, until a Party Wall Award is agreed and in place. If they did commence works, it would be simple to take out an injunction on the works causing them to halt, with that in mind it is important to remember the Party Wall etc Act 1996 is a facilitating Act, meaning once a Party Wall Award is served the building owner has the legal right to commence with the planned works providing, they have all the required consents. i.e., planning.

The term Notifiable Works is often referred to within the remit of the Party Wall etc. Act 1996. This simply means the works undertaken are notifiable under Section 1, 2 or 6, and would require Party Wall procedures to be followed prior to the ‘Notifiable Works’ commencing.
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The building owner has the legal right to build upon an adjoining owner’s land, within the remit of the Party Wall etc. Act 1996, often this would be in the form of a new wall astride a boundary line. This is only possible upon the agreement of the adjoining owner. If an adjoining owner is not agreeable to the wall astride the boundary line, the building owner will be required to move the wall back, ensuring it is wholly on their land i.e., up to the boundary line.

If your construction work falls within the scope of the Party Wall Act. It is your legal obligation to serve the required statutory notice on all those defined in the Act as adjoining owners. (neighbours effected by the works) You are required to serve the Party Wall Notice a minimum of one month prior to commencing works, however if the works are of a structural nature you will be required to serve the Party Wall Notice a minimum of two months prior to commencing works
The Party Wall etc. Act 1996 covers all properties within England and Wales and governs 3 types of construction work.

  • Building on or up to a boundary shared with another property.
  • Work on an existing wall, floor or ceiling structure shared with another property.
  • Excavating within 6 meters of neighbouring building or structure.

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The Party Wall etc. Act 1996 takes professional disputes into account. If your surveyor is acting solely on your behalf, i.e., there are two Surveyors involved, you will need to speak with the third Surveyor. This is the Surveyor appointed by the two surveyors at the start of the process. The Third Surveyor’s role is to resolve any disputes that arise between owners, Surveyors, or both. If your Surveyor is acting as an Agreed Surveyor, you will need to request the Surveyor’s complaint handling procedure (CHP).

Once a Party Wall Award has been served upon you, the party wall dispute has been considered resolved. If you disagree with the content of the Party Wall Award, you have the legal right to appeal that Award within 14 days of service.

If a neighbouring owner doesn’t respond to a Party Wall Notice, a second Notice under section 10(4) will need to be issued, this will give the adjoining owner 10 further days to act. Upon expiry of this Notice, the building owner will be afforded the legal right to appoint a Surveyor on behalf of the non-responsive owner, a Party Wall Award will then be agreed upon by two appointed Party Wall Surveyors, giving the building owner the legal right to commence their planned construction works.
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When a building owner undertaking construction works that fall within the remit of the Party Wall etc. Act 1996 fails to serve a Party Wall Notice on all adjoining owners, the adjoining owner will need to proceed to court to obtain a Party Wall Injunction. Party Wall Injunctions, prohibit any further works taking place, until the party wall procedures have been undertaken and a Party Wall Award is in place.

Party Wall Surveying costs / Surveyor’s fees will vary dependent on the construction works taking place as well as the types of property the works are being undertaken on. Here at Icon Surveyors, both our Building Owner Party Wall Surveyor and Agreed Party Wall Surveyor jobs are competitively priced at a fixed cost.
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An Adjoining Owner has 14 days, not restricted to business days to respond to the Party Wall Notice. The Building Owner must allow a further 2 days for postage delays. The Building Owner must allow for normal holidays, these should be added to the Party Wall Notice response times.

Type A Party Walls are walls forming part of a building standing on different owner’s land to a greater extent than the projection of any formed support on which the wall rests. In our experience these tend to be walls separating terraced or semi-detached houses, they would have originally been built to be in shared ownership.

Type B Party Walls are walls separating buildings belonging to different owners, these are walls that may not originally have been built as a Party Wall, and over time through an owner enclosing upon the wall, have become Party Walls.

When a building owner expose the Party Wall during their construction works, they will need to ensure the Party Wall is sufficiently protected from the elements. This will ensure moisture doesn’t transfer into the adjoining owner’s property and cause penetrating damp.

Weatherproofed Scaffolding will be in the form of metal sheeting at roof level, with the scaffolding then being encapsulated in sheeting. This is ideal when the building owner intends to have scaffolding to the perimeter of the property.

We suggest a layer of roofing felt or thick plastic sheeting fixed directly to the exposed Party Wall, the sheeting should be held in place with timber battens. This is ideal for sites where scaffolding isn’t going to be installed or the installation is delayed.

A Thames Water build over agreement is a seal of approval for the proposed works and will usually be required for any excavation work within 3 metres of a public sewer or drain. If you are planning on applying for a Thames Water Agreement you will require:

  • Completed application form.
  • Drawing illustrating the site location plan.
  • Drawing illustrating the existing drainage layout.
  • Drawing illustrating the proposed drainage layout.
  •  Drawing confirming the cross section of the proposed foundations and existing drain or sewer.

Special foundations are foundations in which an assemblage of beams or rods are employed for the purpose of distributing any load. This means that any foundation including any form of metal reinforcement is deemed to be a special foundation through the eyes of the Party Wall etc. Act. Under the remit of the Act the building owner must obtain the express consent of the adjoining owner to use special foundations.

Party Wall Damage is usually in the form of a contractor causing damage to the adjoining owner’s property. The Party Wall etc. Act allows the adjoining owner to request for the building owner’s contractor to repair the damage, or if they have lost confidence in the builders, they can request a payment in lieu. This is a sum of money to cover the cost to employ their own contractor to repair the damage.

Within the Party Wall etc. Act 1996 this is the period for which the Party Wall Notice covers. The Statutory Notice Period commences when the Party Wall Notice is served and will be applicable unless it is waived by the adjoining owner. The Statutory period depends on the works being undertaken, i.e. if the works are directly relating to a structure, the period of time will be two months, and if the works are relating to excavations the period will be one month.

Party Wall Notices can be served by the building owner or their appointed Party Wall Surveyor. You have the following options for a legally correct Party Wall Notice, hand, post, fixing it to the adjoining owner’s property and if the adjoining owner has agreed to email receipt, they can also be served via email.
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If an adjoining owner hasn’t responded to the original Party Wall Notice, a further Party Wall Notice under section 10(4) can be served. The Section 10(4) Notice gives the adjoining owner 10 final days to respond. Upon expiry of the 10-day period, the building owner is afforded the legal right to appoint a Surveyor on behalf of non-responsive adjoining owner, to agree a Party Wall Award and proceed with the planned works.
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The Party Wall etc. Act 1996 considers a dispute to have occurred when an adjoining owner dissents to a Party Wall Notice served by the building owner or their Party Wall Surveyor. Once a ‘dispute’ under the Party Wall Act has occurred, a Party Wall Surveyor or Party Wall Surveyors are appointed to resolve the matter, in form of a Party Wall Award commonly known as a Party Wall Agreement.

Party Wall Surveyors often ask a building owner to provide a foundation detail. This is because the Party Wall etc Act 1996 requires a foundation detail to ensure the validity of a Section 6 Party Wall Notice (Notice of Adjacent Excavation). The drawing will need to specifically confirm the profile and depth of the building owner’s proposed foundation.

The Party Wall etc. Act1996 requires an enclosure cost to be paid from any building owner planning on enclosing an adjoining owner’s previously built Party Wall. The payment is made directly to the adjoining owner, as per the requirements of Section 11(11) of the Party Wall etc Act 1996.
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A Trial Pit commonly referred to as a trial whole, is an exploratory excavation alongside the adjoining owner’s structure. The purpose of the exercise is to confirm the profile and depth of the adjoining owner’s foundations. This will ensure the building owner’s Engineer takes the findings into account when designing the building owner’s extension.
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Yes, when a building owner’s work falls within the remit of the Party Wall etc. Act 1996 and the adjoining owner has dissented to the building owner’s Party Wall Notice. The building owner is legally required to appoint Party Wall Surveyors and have a Party Wall Award agreed and served upon the respective owners, prior to commencing with their notifiable works.