The Party Wall etc Act 1996 was introduced in England and Wales to minimise disputes by making sure property owners use surveyors to determine the way and time in which certain works are carried out. You can, if you wish, use an “agreed surveyor” if the two parties agree to do so. The Act allows you to carry out works on or to a shared wall, while affording a degree of protection to anyone who might be affected by those works.
You should always get your neighbour’s agreement before you start building works such as extensions, damp proofing works, some internal refurbishments, roof extensions and/or structural alterations. Consent is not normally required for fixing plugs, screwing in wall units and shelves, adding or replacing some recessed wall sockets, wiring or re-plastering your walls.
So What is a Party Wall ?
A party wall is a shared wall which separates buildings belonging to different owners even if the wall stands on land belonging to one of the owners. The Act also includes party structures such as floors separating different owners. The Act applies if you intend to excavate below the foundation level within 3.0m of a structure; or within 6.0m and below a plane of 45° from the foundation of a structure. It also applies if you wish to build a new wall on or close to the line of junction (e.g. a boundary). Party Fence Walls (such as boundary walls straddling the boundary line) come within the Act.
So What is Covered by the Party Wall Act etc 1996?
These are some of the works you can only do to a party structure with the written agreement of the adjoining owner:
1. Cut into the wall to take the bearing of a beam.
2. Insert a damp proof course all the way through a wall.
3. Raise or reduce a party wall including cutting off projections.
4. Cut a flashing into an adjoining wall.
5. Build a new wall on a line of junction between two properties.
6. Removal of chimney breasts from a party wall.
7. Excavate below the foundation level within 3.0m
8. Excavate within 6.0m of an adjoining structure below a plane
of 45° from the foundations of a structure.
9. Demolish & rebuild a party wall or underpin all or part thereof.