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Party Walls, Party Structures and Party Fences are all deemed to be jointly owned and The Party Wall etc..Act exists to protect the building integrity and thereby the two owners: the Building Owner who is carrying out the works and the Adjoining Owner too.
Party wall matters
Most of us, share a part wall with our neighbour and few property development areas cause upset and dispute, than those arising from works to these shared walls.
What is a party wall?
The Party Wall etc. Act 1996 (Click to read act) exists to protect shared walls when works are carried out. The Act enables the Adjoining Owner (person who lives next door to proposed works) to appoint a Surveyor to inspect, document and scrutinise the propoesed works at the Building Owner's cost. The Building Owner being the(person who wants to do the work.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:
- It forms part of a building and stands astride the boundary of land belonging to two (or more) different owners (see diagram 1); or
- 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.
Typical works that should require party wall notification:
There is a duty to notify all affected neighbours, with Surveyors appointed to protect affected neighbours. The surveyors work to schedule the condition and agree responsibility in respect of scope and behaviour on site, restrictions to mitigate impact on affected neighbours and remediation of any damage/disturbance arising from the works, by preparing a ‘Party wall Award’. The objective is to protect all parties, but also navigate neighbours away from dispute, wherever possible.
- 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 negotiation or preparation of the Party Wall Award