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The Party Wall Act

What Is The Party Wall Act?

The Party Wall Act, commonly referred to as the Party Wall Act of 1996, was created to allow developments to be undertaken on properties that have adjoining occupiers or owners, whilst also providing them with certain protections.


The act came into force in 1997 in England and Wales. It’s important to note that the rules are different in Scotland and Northern Ireland. In England and Wales, the act provides a framework that ensures that neighbours that are connected by an adjoining wall are notified of any construction work before it begins. The act applies if you want to carry out work on a certain category of building, on a shared property boundary or on a party wall.


What Defines a Party Wall?

A Party Wall refers to a wall that stands adjacent to a land boundary that belongs to two or more owners.


This area of law is surprisingly complex and there are different rules for different types of walls. As such, arguments over Party Walls are commonplace – which is why surveyors, like the team at Target, are often called upon to help resolve any disputes.


Did you know that If the owner of one side of Party Wall carries out work without the consent of their neighbour, they are actually committing trespass!


The most common example of a Party Wall is the wall that physically separates connected tenants or owners in a terraced or semi-detached house.


What Rights Does The Party Wall Act Provide Building Owners?

The Party Wall Act allows building owners to carry out work on existing party walls, by providing them with additional rights which stretch further than the usual common law rights. Part of these includes the ability for someone to repair or maintain party walls.

Here at Target Surveys, we have found the most common use case of these rights include: 

  • Working on an existing party wall or structure
  • Excavating near or below the foundation level of neighbouring buildings
  • Building on or at the boundary of two properties
  • Making a party wall taller, shorter or deeper
  • Removing chimney breasts from a party wall
  • Knocking down and rebuilding a party wall
  • Construction of a new party wall, party fence wall or party structure.
  • Raising or lowering the height of a party wall.
  • Changing the thickness of a party wall.
  • Making good or repairing a party wall.
  • Demolishing and rebuilding a defective party wall.


Building Owners Duties Under Party Wall Act:

If you are a building owner who wants to carry out work that is covered by the Party Wall Act, then you must inform all adjoining owners with a written notice. As stated:

“Anyone who proposes to undertake work which may be affected by the Party Wall Act, must give adjoining owners notice of their intentions. This notice applies even when the work will not go beyond the centre line of the division of the properties. The Act also provides, where there are disputes over this work, for the resolution of the disputes.”

It’s important to point out that there is no official form for giving notice, however, it needs to include:

  • The address of the building or structure which you plan to work on.
  • A detailed plan of your proposed work.
  • A date on which you are planning on starting the work.


Party Wall Surveying:

A Party Wall surveyor is sometimes called in to perform a specialist role and assist in resolving disputes between adjacent parties under the act. It is worth noting, a party wall surveyor will have no duty to the individual who hired them, instead, then adhere to the Act to ensure they are resolving matters and disputes in a fair and practical way.

Any person can operate as a ‘surveyor’ under the act, as long as they are not affiliated with the works. As such, a property owners cannot act for themselves. As always, we would recommend that you pick a surveying service with experience in construction and previous knowledge of the procedures and processes under the act.

If both parties agree on a surveyor, then they will draw up an agreement/award to resolve the dispute. An Award is a legally binding document that includes:

  • When the work that will be carried out.
  • How the work will be carried out.
  • If any additional work will be required.
  • Provision of access for the surveyor.

The Award may also include a record of the condition of the neighbouring property before works begin.


Who pays a Party Wall surveyor’s fees?

There is no standard of who pays the Party Wall surveying fees, however, it is usually the responsibility of the business owner. This includes all costs associated with drawing up the award, as well as the other parties surveyor fees.

For more information, make sure that you check out the government’s website which features an explanatory booklet specifically for Building Owners’ and Adjoining Owners’ about the start to finish Party Wall process.


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Interested in the work we do here at Target Surveys? Looking for a Measured Building Survey? Reach out today at or on 01926 313419. A member of our team would be happy to talk with you to discuss your individual requirements and needs. You can also reach out to us on Facebook, Instagram or LinkedIn!


We look forward to hearing from you!

Team Target