Party Walls

Before you carry out any extension or alteration to your home you may need your neighbours’ consent.

What you need to know.

Party walls are the walls you share with your neighbours.   The Party Wall Act

Party Wall?

Semi-detached and terraced houses share walls with their neighbours. We call these party walls. They separate buildings belonging to different owners. A floor separating flats can also be considered a party structure.

Where there are different sized buildings, the part that is used by both properties alone is considered to be a party wall/structure. The rest belongs to the person on whose land it stands.

If you want to develop, repair or alter -

You must serve notice on your neighbour and obtain your neighbour's agreement before you can start.

What work requires a notice?

  • Extensions
  • Damp proofing works
  • Some internal refurbishment
  • Structural alterations

You may also need to serve notice if you are excavating or constructing foundations for a new building within three or six metres of neighbouring properties.

The Party Wall etc Act

The Party Wall etc Act 1996 came into force in 1997 and property owners throughout England and Wales must follow the procedure when building work affects a party wall or party fence wall or excavations are near neighbours' walls.

The Act is meant to reduce disputes by ensuring property owners use a suitably experienced person to determine how and when work is carried out.

An 'Agreed Surveyor' can act for both owners and is common for smaller works. Should problems arise he will determine the remedy and must act impartially.

The Act, if followed, gives you the right to carry out work on or next to party walls. In return it protects the interests of all those who could be affected by the works be it the Building or Adjoining Owner.

What works are excluded?

Common minimal work that does not affect the other half of a party wall is excluded:

For example: Rawlplugs; Screw fixing wall units and shelving; Inserting or renewing electrical sockets; Replastering your walls.

What works fall within the scope of the Act?

  • Cutting into a wall for bearing of a beam, for example for a loft conversion or through lounge.
  • Inserting a damp proof course deep into a wall.
  • Raising the party wall or where necessary cutting off any parts preventing this from happening.
  • Demolishing and rebuilding the party wall.
  • Underpinning/ raising the whole or part of a wall.
  • Cutting a flashing into an adjoining building.
  • Building a new wall on the line of junction between two properties.
  • Foundations excavated within three metres of an adjoining structure and lower than its foundations.
  • Excavating foundations within six metres of an adjoining structure and below a 45° line drawn from the bottom of the foundations.


For most of these works you must give written notice to your neighbours two months before starting any party wall works and one month for 'line of junction' or excavation works.

If the building next door is let, you will need to tell the landlord, as well as the person living in the property, that you will be carrying out building work to the party wall. Where there are several owners of the property or more than one adjoining property you must let them know as well. Written notice to owners above or below may also be necessary.

We consider it very helpful to talk to your neighbours about the work you want to do before serving an official written notice, which can appear daunting when received if no warning is given. If you can do this amicably they may give you written agreement in response to your notice. They must do this within 14 days otherwise they are deemed to have dissented.

Disputes, Dissent and Resolution!

This is where advice from a suitably experienced Party Wall Surveyor can help to minimise any delays that may arise or resolve any concerns or worries you may have.

The Act provides for both parties to each appoint a surveyor or an 'Agreed Surveyor' who should act impartially. For small works an Agreed Surveyor is typically appointed.

The surveyor/s will prepare an 'Award'. This specifies the work that can be carried out and how and when it may be done.

It will also record the condition of the neighbouring property before work commences.

It may also grant access to both properties so the surveyor/s can inspect work in progress.

The Award will determine who pays (usually the owner who is benefiting from the works). Generally, the building owner who started the work pays for all expenses.

If damage occurs the surveyor/s will prepare a further Award determining how this will be remedied. They can order that repairs are carried out or that the cost of the repair is to be paid.

The Act is separate from planning or building regulations control.



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