What is a party wall?

The Act recognises two main types of party wall. These are referred to as a “party wall” or a “party fence wall”.

A wall is a “party wall” if:

  1. It forms part of a building and stands astride the boundary of land belonging to two (or more) different owners (see diagram 1); or
  2. It separates buildings and it either
  • stands astride the boundary of land belonging to two (or more) different owners (see diagram 2); or
  • stands wholly on one owner’s land, but is used by two (or more) owners to separate their buildings. Where one person has built the wall in the first place, and another has butted their building up against it without constructing their own wall, only the part of the wall tbat does the separating is “party” – sections on either side or above are not “party” (see diagram 3).

A wall is a “party fence wall” if it is a wall, which is not part of a building, that stands aside the boundary line between lands of different owners and is used to separate those lands (for example a garden wall) – see diagram 4. This does not include such things as wooden fences.

The Act also uses the expression “party structure”. This is a wider term which could be a party wall or a floor partition or other structure separating buildings or parts of buildings approached by separate staircases or entrances (for example flat) – see diagram 5.

Party wall acts explained

Most of us share a wall with our neighbour and the Party Wall Act, 1996 (Click here to see the act in full) protects us when work is being carried out to shared walls.

We can

  • undertake the duties of the Party Wall Surveyor
  • carry out continuous inspections throughout the works
  • arrange for the engagement where necessary of the second Surveyor
  • arrange all the necessary drawings

Typical works that should require party wall notification:

  • injecting a damp proof course into a shared wall
  • tanking a shared wall
  • installing a concrete lintel, steel girder or timber support into a shared wall
  • underpinning a structure in close proximity to a shared wall
  • building an extension near to a shared wall
  • raising a party wall at roof level to enclose on it and build habitable space at roof level
  • building a wall on the party line where the foundations may spread into the adjoning owner’s property
  • opening up the floors between flats and altering joists, floor constructions etc..
  • work on an existing wall or structure shared with another property (section 2 of the Act)
  • building a free standing wall or a wall of a building up to or astride the boundary with a neighbouring property (section 1 of the Act)
  • excavating near a neighbouring building (section 6 of the Act)

You therefore have a duty to notify all affected neighbours of which my client is one.