Party wall matters can seem complex, but our experienced engineers can guide you through the necessary steps to ensure your project runs smoothly. The following is provided for information, but for further advice please contact your local GCA office and ask to speak to one of our engineers.

The Party Wall Act

The Act came into force on 1st July 1997 and applies throughout England. It provides a framework for preventing and resolving disputes in relation to Party Walls, Boundary walls and Excavations near neighbouring buildings.

GCA regularly acts as Party Wall Surveyors and with our structural engineering background we are expert at ensuring the structural integrity of a building is maintained whilst adjacent works are undertaken.

More information about the Party Wall Act can be found here.

Notification

Notification is essential if you intend to carry out building work which involves one of the following categories:

work on an existing wall or structure shared with another property
building a free standing wall or a wall of a building up to or astride the boundary with a neighbouring property
excavation near a neighbouring building
You must find out whether that work falls within the Act and if it does all the Adjoining Owners must be notified.

The Act

The Act provides Rights to a Building Owner the most commonly used Rights are:

  • To cut into a wall to take the bearing of a beam or to insert a damp proof course all the way through the wall
  • To raise the height of the wall and/or increase the thickness of the party wall and, if necessary, cut off any projections which prevent you from doing so
  • To demolish and rebuild the party wall
  • To protect two adjoining walls by putting a flashing from the higher over the lower, even where this requires cutting into an Adjoining Owner’s independent building

However with Rights go Duties and all Adjoining Owners and long term tenants must be informed within the correct timescale and in the proper manner.

Typically GCA, as an Appointed Surveyor, would act for the Building Owner or the Adjoining Owner or with agreement, both.

It is however usual for there to be two “active” surveyors, one for the Building Owner and one for the Adjoining Owner or owners and a third surveyor to be consulted should any dispute arise.

In these capacities GCA would as necessary:
Prepare letters, visit site and carry out a Schedule of Conditions on the wall, advise all parties as necessary, serve and reply to all Notices checking the submitted drawings and details. This would then allow GCA, when all sections of The Act have been complied with, to prepare, serve and jointly sign a Party Wall Award

The Party Wall Award would usually:

  • Set out the work that will be carried out
  • Say how, and under certain circumstances say when the work is to be carried out
  • Specify any additional work required such as any necessary protection to prevent damage
  • Contain a record of the condition of the adjoining property before the work begins so that any damage to the adjoining land or buildings can be properly attributed and made good
  • Allow access for the Surveyors to inspect the works while they are in progress so that it can be seen that the works are in accordance with the Award

As with all documentation concerning one’s property it is essential that the Award is kept with the deeds of the building.

Lastly it must be remembered that The Party Wall Act only covers the Party Wall Matters and is separate from Planning or Building Regulation Control.

So reaching agreement with the Adjoining Owner or Owners under the Act does not remove the possible need to apply for planning permission or to comply with building regulations.

Conversely and most important is that gaining Planning Permission or complying with the Building Regulations does not remove the need to comply with the Act where it is applicable.

GCA are always pleased to discuss Party Wall Matters with you and offer free initial advice over the telephone.