Why do I need a Partywall Agreement ?
The Party Wall Act 1996 became effective to all new building or excavation works from the 1st July 1997. The Act is mandatory between adjoining Property Owners and is the responsibility of the Building Owner proposing the works to ensure that an Agreement is in place before works commence.
The Act provides a transparent mechanism in an endeavour to prevent disputes in the first instance and a clear route for settlement if they occur.
Simplistically, the Act applies when changes to either Party Walls or Party Boundary Structures are planned, or Excavations within 3 or 6m of an adjacent structure are proposed.
- For works to apply to a Party Wall or Boundary Structure, the proposed work must be to, or effect the structure itself by altering the loading or characteristics. Normal domestic shelving or similar being fixed to a Party Wall will almost always be exempt, but more significant alteration of loading or characteristic changes to the Party Wall will not.
- The 3m excavation rule applies to a new excavation that will be deeper or load surcharge an adjoining owner’s structure foundation within 3m measured horizontally.
- The 6m rule applies if a new excavation within 6m horizontally of an adjoining owner’s structure foundation will be shallower, but a 45° downward loading plane will intersect with the adjoining foundation above its base within the 6m horizontal distance.
- It is wise for a Condition Survey to be undertaken on an adjoining structure before serving a Party Wall Notice, in order that any existing structural issues can be recorded as part of the Notice.
Partywall Notices must be served with at least one month’s notice for excavations, or two months' notice for Party Walls and Structures and are only valid for 12 months. If the works which are the subject of the Notice do not commence within the 12 month period, the whole process must start again from the beginning.
If the receiver of the Notice fails to respond or challenges the notice within the appropriate period, a Dispute is deemed to have arisen. The Act provides for these circumstances and sets out various requirements, including dealing with frivolous attempts by the Receiver of the Notice endeavouring to use the Act to prevent reasonable works.
This is very much only a brief outline of the Party Wall Act and must be read as such, but if you are contemplating or instructing works within 6m of any adjoining owner’s structure or in any doubt, you are advised to seek professional advice before commencing or instructing any works.
Alternatively, if you are an adjoining owner who has not been asked to enter into a Party Wall Agreement by the party planning such works or having received a Notice are in any doubt, you are advised to seek professional advice ideally before your adjoining owner commences any works.
The Act provides clear procedures to resolve disputes and potential penalties for non-compliance.
The costs to serve the notice correctly are minimal and can often totally prevent future more costly disputes.
RBC can assist you with your Party Wall Agreement requirements. Please contact us (details below) for a free of charge no obligation discussion.