What is a Party Wall?

What is a party wall?What is a party wall?

This is a question RMA Surveyors, Newbury, are often asked to clarify, during an initial party wall enquiry.  The extract below is taken from the Department for Communities and Local Government Party Wall etc. Act 1996 explanatory booklet and explains what the Act defines as a party wall.

RMA Surveyors are experienced and professional Party Wall Surveyors. We act on behalf of building owners and adjoining owners, as well as agreed surveyors for both parties. If you’re looking for Party Wall advice, call RMA Surveyors on 01635 579 208. Proud members of the Faculty of Party Wall Surveyors (FPWS) and the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS).

 

The following extract and diagrams are highlighted in the Explanatory Booklet:

What is a party wall?

The Party Wall etc. Act 1996 recognises two main types of party wall.

Party wall type A

A wall is a “party wall” if it stands astride the boundary of land belonging to two (or more) different owners.

Such a wall:

  • is part of one building (see diagram 1),
  • or separates two (or more) buildings (see diagram 2),
  • or consists of a “party fence wall” (see diagram 3).

A wall is a “party fence wall” if it is not part of a building, and stands astride the boundary line between lands of different owners and is used to separate those lands (for example a masonry garden wall). This does not include such things as wooden fences or hedges.

Party wall type B 

A wall is also a “party wall” if it stands wholly on one owner’s land, but is used by two (or more) owners to separate their buildings (see diagram 4).

An example would be where one person has built the wall in the first place, and another has built their building up against it without constructing their own wall.

Only the part of the wall that does the separating is “party” – sections on either side or above are not “party”.

The Act also uses the expression “party structure“. This is a wider term, which could be a wall or floor partition or other structure separating buildings or parts of buildings approached by separate staircases or entrances for example flats (see diagram 5).

Walls that are not Party Walls:

These may include boundary walls (a fence wall/garden wall built wholly on one owner’s land) and external walls (the wall of a building built up to but not astride the boundary).

Diagram 1:

What is a party wall PW Diagram 1

Diagram 2:

What is a party wall PW Diagram 2

Diagram 3:

What is a party wall PW Diagram 3

Diagram 4:

What is a party wall PW Diagram 4

Diagram 5:

What is a party wall PW Diagram 5

Party Wall Process

The Party Wall ProcessThe Party Wall etc. Act 1996 is designed to avoid and minimise disputes. It makes sure property owners notify adjoining owners in advance of proposed works. However, the Party Wall process can seem daunting and/or complicated. To ensure peace of mind that you are following the correct procedure when it comes to your building work, contact RMA Surveyors, Newbury Berkshire to help guide you through the Party Wall process.

RMA Surveyors provide expert advice on the Party Wall process, as one client recently gave testimonial to:

We appointed Richard Mountain of RMA Surveyors to act on our behalf, as our neighbours had commenced work excavating right next to our house, without serving a party wall agreement.  Richard’s knowledge and expertise helped resolve the issue and allowed our neighbours build to continue whilst protecting our property, which was our biggest concern.  Unfortunately our neighbours chose to ignore the first award and we had to engage Richard again to go through another award.  He worked extremely well to support us and offered a voice of reason to ourselves, our neighbours and the barrister we had to engage.

Richard gave us the confidence that we needed throughout the entire process.  His is extremely thorough and practical, his communication was very proactive and he dealt with sensitive issues in a professional and timely manner, often coming out at short notice. I would fully recommend Richard for any party wall agreement.” (February 2018)

RMA Surveyors provide Party Wall surveying and advice in compliance with The Party Wall etc. Act 1996.  We act on behalf of building owners and adjoining owners, as well as agreed surveyors for both parties. RMA Surveyors are members of The Faculty of Party Wall Surveyors, so you can feel confident that you’re receiving professional advice and guidance.

Contact RMA Surveyors to discuss your needs on 01635 579208 or email enquiries@rmasurveyors.co.uk.

Does the Party Wall etc. Act 1996 affect my building work?

Party Wall etc. Act 1996“Does the Party Wall etc. Act 1996 affect my building work?” is a question that RMA Surveyors in Newbury, Berkshire have often been asked.

If you have plans to carry out the following type of work on your property then you should seek professional advice regarding the Party Wall Act:

– Work on an existing wall, ceiling or floor structure shared with another property,

– Building on or at the boundary with another property,

– Excavating near a neighbouring building or structure.

By seeking advice from a party wall professional, you can determine whether your proposed building work falls within the scope of the Party Wall etc. Act 1996, enabling you to respond accordingly and within the Law.

RMA Surveyors are expert Party Wall and Chartered surveyors, members of both the Faculty of Party Wall Surveyors and the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors. With such accreditation, you can rest assured that RMA Surveyors will provide you with the quality advice and service that is required.

Contact RMA Surveyors for advice or help with the Party Wall process on 01635 579208 or email enquiries@rmasurveyors.co.uk.

Testimonial, February 2018:

“We appointed Richard Mountain of RMA Surveyors to act on our behalf, as our neighbours had commenced work excavating right next to our house, without serving a party wall agreement.  Richard’s knowledge and expertise helped resolve the issue and allowed our neighbours build to continue whilst protecting our property, which was our biggest concern.  Unfortunately our neighbours chose to ignore the first award and we had to engage Richard again to go through another award.  He worked extremely well to support us and offered a voice of reason to ourselves, our neighbours and the barrister we had to engage.

Richard gave us the confidence that we needed throughout the entire process.  His is extremely thorough and practical, his communication was very proactive and he dealt with sensitive issues in a professional and timely manner, often coming out at short notice.

I would fully recommend Richard for any party wall agreement.”

The house that was ‘printed’ in a day

RMA Surveyors Ltd, Newbury, continually keep an eye on the latest building technologies and techniques. We recently we came across this unique house, built by a 3D printer.

We’re interested to see how 3D printing will be welcomed by the construction industry, the technology will change the face of construction as we currently know it.

View post on imgur.com

RMA Surveyors deliver professional building surveys and homebuyer reports. Contact us for further information and advice on 01635 579208.

Building Survey – How long will it take?

Building surveyHow long will the building survey take? Is a common question that we are asked during most enquiries. 

In short, the time taken on a building survey depends on the property. The size of the property, the age of the property, its construction, the defects we may find and the extent of furnishings and carpets which can determine our access, are all factors to take into consideration.

 

 

However, we’ve put together a little guide below to give you an indication:

  • Homebuyers Report – 2 bedroom, recently built flat: 1.5-2 hours
  • Homebuyers Report – 3 bedroom, semi-detached house: 2-3 hours
  • Homebuyers Report/ Building survey – 4 bedroom detached house: 4-5 hours
  • Building Survey – 5 bedroom, detached house with garage: 5-6 hours
  • Building Survey – 5 bedroom, listed building with outhouse & garage: 6+ hours

At RMA Surveyors, we aim to deliver all our reports within 5 working days of surveying the property, if not before.

Take a look at our Property Surveys page to see what would suit your requirements.

If you’re in need of a Building Survey or Homebuyers Report, contact RMA Surveyors on 01635 579208.

We can advise you on whether you require a Homebuyers Report or Building Survey and provide you with a quote for our services.

RMA Surveyors Ltd are based in Newbury, Berkshire. We provide a wide range of building surveying services in Newbury, West Berkshire and the surrounding areas. Get in touch for professional advice. We are an independent company and take pride in the fact that we provide honest, impartial and credible advice to our clients. We are members of, registered with and regulated by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) to ensure we maintain high professional standards.

 

 

Section 2 of the Party Wall etc. Act 1996

Section 2 of the Party Wall etc. ActSection 2 of the Party Wall etc. Act 1996 deals with the rights of owners in regard to repairs of  party wall or structure.

Section 2, Rights of Owners

Section 2 of the Party Wall etc. Act confers the following rights to owners:

  • Requires that a building owner gives notice to an adjoining owner where a party wall or party fence wall or building belonging to him is already in place and he intends to underpin, thicken or raise a structure . The section allows the building owner to make good, repair, demolish or rebuild if the structure is in some way defective.
  • Allows a building owner to demolish a partition which separates buildings belonging to separate owners and does not conform to statutory requirements, and rebuild that wall to meet such requirements.
  • Allows a building owner to demolish arches or structures over public highways or over areas belonging to other persons that connect buildings, and rebuild them to conform with statutory requirements.
  • Allows a building owner to demolish a party structure that is weak or of insufficient height and rebuild it to sufficient strength or height for their purposes. It also allows the rebuilt structure to build to a lesser height or thickness providing the rebuilt structure is of sufficient strength and height for the purposes of the adjoining owner.
  • Allows a building owner to cut into a party structure for any purpose (this might include inserting a damp proof course).
  • Allows a building owner to cut away from a party wall any footing or projecting chimney breast or flue or other projection, in order to erect, raise or underpin a wall.
  • Allows a building owner to cut away or demolish part of any wall or building of an adjoining owner which overhangs the building owner’s land or a party wall to the extent it is necessary, to enable a vertical wall to be erected or raised against the wall or building of the adjoining owner.
  • Allows the building owner to cut into the wall of the adjoining owners building to insert a flashing or other weather proofing.
  • A building owner can execute any other necessary works incidental to the connection of the party structure with the premises it adjoins, and to raise a party fence wall or any such wall for the use of a party wall. It also allows to demolish a party fence wall and rebuild it as a party wall.
  • Allows a building owner (if served with an adjoining owner counter notice to maintain the height of a wall) to reduce, demolish and rebuild a party wall or party fence wall to a height of not less than 2 metres where the wall isn’t used by the adjoining owner, other than for boundary purposes, and to a height currently enclosed upon the building of an adjoining owner.
  • Allows a building owner to expose a party wall or party structure previously enclosed providing adequate weathering is installed.

Section 2, Additional Rights and Clarifications

Section 2 of the Party Wall Act clarifies certain matters pertaining to the above rights.

Where a building owner proposes to:

  • underpin, thicken or raise a party structure (and this work is not necessary on account of defect or requiring repair)
  • demolish a party structure of insufficient strength or height for the purposes of the building owner and to rebuild it to the sufficient strength or height
  • cut into a party structure for any purpose, cut away from a party wall, a party fence wall or external wall any footing or projecting chimney breast or to cut away and demolish parts of a wall or building from the adjoining owner which is overhanging their land
  • cut into the wall of an adjoining owner in order to insert a flashing or other weather proofing

Then these rights are only exercisable subject to the building owner making good any damage caused by the work to the adjoining premises, furnishings or decorations. The installation of any flues or chimney stacks need to be agreed in regards to height and materials between the owners.

In the case where an adjoining owner has issued a counter notice to maintain the height of a wall and a building owner has opted to build a wall or a party fence wall to a height not less than 2 metres or a height currently enclosed upon by the building of an adjoining owner, then the building owner must reconstruct any parapets or replace an existing parapet with another and may construct a parapet where one is needed but did not exist previously.

The building owner may exercise rights granted under Section 2 of the Party Wall etc. Act, providing he has consent in writing from the adjoining owner and the adjoining owner’s occupiers (if necessary).

Contact RMA Surveyors for professional advice on 01635 579208. RMA Surveyors are proud members of the Faculty of Party Wall Surveyors.

Party Wall Notice

Being unaware of a duty to serve Party Wall Notice under The Party Wall etc. Act 1996 is not a defence. Some people do not factor in the costs of compliance with The Party Wall etc. Act 1996 before they commence works. Some choose to ignore the legislation, in the belief they are saving themselves time and money. This incorrect course of action leads to delays to their project, neighbourly dispute, possible court action and associated costs.

Party Wall Notice will prevent court action

The Requirement For Party Wall Notice

The Party Wall etc. Act 1996 requires Building Owners to serve relevant party wall notice to Adjoining Owners up to 2 months before notifiable works commence. When party wall notice is not served and it can cause friction between neighbours. In the worst case scenario where works have begun Adjoining Owners can apply to the Court and gain an injunction against the works. There are upfront costs for doing this, which are usually recoverable from a Building Owner. What Building Owners can also overlook by neglecting to serve notice is that certain rights granted by the Act are also not invoked (such as access in their neighbour’s land, to undertake notifiable works).

In many cases serving party wall notice is simple. By notifying a neighbour that works are going ahead there is less likelihood of a dispute occurring. Issuing notice/s with a polite letter explaining what the works are is far cheaper and easier than a court injunction and costs, then living with the resulting bad feeling.

Ignorance Is No Defence

The Party Wall etc. Act 1996 is now well established legislation. There is no good reason to ignore it. The courts will invariably find against anyone who does, either wilfully or through genuine ignorance. The cost of not serving a valid party wall notice may prove to be the costliest oversight of the whole project. The adage of Ignorantia iuris nocet applies. Not knowing the law is harmful.

We Can Help

If you are having works undertaken to your property that is likely to affect your neighbour’s property contact RMA Surveyors Ltd and we will be pleased to assist you serving the correct notice to avoid future and costly disputes. RMA Surveyors Ltd are members of The Faculty of Party Wall Surveyors Please contact us and we will be happy to help.

Building Survey vs Homebuyer Report

House SearchBased in Berkshire, RMA Surveyors Ltd have recently surveyed properties in Newbury, Reading, Wokingham and Windsor.

When making an initial enquiry for a survey on a property, we are often asked what the difference is between a Homebuyer Report and a Building Survey. Our simple response is that while both involve a survey of the property, a Homebuyer Report details all the essential elements of a building but goes into less detail than a Building Survey.

If you would like to read more about the details of each report, take a look at our Property Surveys page.

As chartered surveyors, RMA Surveyors Ltd always provides professional advice and will recommend which type of survey best suits the proposed property. By analysing the age, type (e.g. semi-detached or bungalow) and whether there are any extensions to the property, we can determine which survey would best outline the condition of the building.

If you are unsure which type of survey would be most suitable for the type of property that you are intending to purchase, please contact us and we shall be happy to discuss this with you.

For a Homebuyer Report or Building Survey quote, please call RMA Surveyors Ltd on 01635 579208 or complete the enquiry form.

Office Refurbishment

We recently undertook the contract administration and project management of a successful office refurbishment to a Grade 2 listed, former town house located in a prominent position within Pinner High Street, London.

The scope of service included agreeing statutory consents and liaison with the local conservation officer and English Heritage. Providing additional restraint where historic settlement had affected the structure, design and specification of all elements of the refurbishment, including using materials sympathetic with the historic fabric of the building, roof repairs, external masonry repairs, internal plaster repairs, improving energy efficiency of the building, new gas and electrical service installations, joinery items and redecoration.

The contract was successfully completed inside the 15 week contract period. We held regular site meetings and site inspections, certified works as they were completed, agreed the final account and signed off works at completion. As well as liaising with the main contractor, we also organised the programme of works around data, telecoms and security contractors to ensure a seamless transition to allow the clients’ company to move offices without interruption to their business.

As a result the building has been transformed from a rather tired structure that was long overdue any maintenance into a building that not only contributes significantly to the historic fabric of central Pinner but has a contemporary style that is also reflective of the buildings history.

If you have a refurbishment project that would like RMA Surveyors Ltd assistance with, please contact us on 01635 579208, get in touch via enquiries@rmasurveyors.co.uk, or simply complete the enquiry form.

Insurance Reinstatement Repair

Damp floorWe recently undertook an insurance reinstatement repair contract in Compton, Berkshire.

The semi-detached property had suffered a central heating leak within the floor screed. It could not be determined how long the leak had been established but the whole ground floor screed was saturated. The client appointed us to liaise with the insurance company and their appointed loss adjuster.

We visited the site, assessed the damage and advised the loss adjuster of the works required. We drew together a schedule of works, which we issued for competitive tender. We ensured a contractor was appointed to undertake the works and attended regular site meetings to ensure works were completed within the four week contract period. Our role included liaising regularly with the client to ensure that decisions regarding finishes were made in good time to prevent any delay to the contract and to enable the client to move back from their alternative accommodation as quickly as possible.

Overall, the issue was dealt with within a four month period, from the date the loss was discovered to completion. Our involvement in this project reduced the cost of the claim to the insurer, ensured that the property was sufficiently restored to its pre-loss condition, and enabled the client to be satisfied that works had been undertaken and specified properly.

During the contract period, we were also able to incorporate some amendments and alterations to the ground floor space that the client desired and we were able to clearly separate and demonstrate to the Insurer which works were part of the insured loss and which were undertaken privately for the client.

On completion we certified all works and valued them and made sure the contractor was duly paid. We are pleased to have been able to provide our services and without our involvement it is highly likely that works would not have been completed in the time and to the quality to which they were.

If you’re in need of a Chartered Surveyor to help oversee some insurance reinstatement works, contact RMA Surveyors Ltd on 01635 579208 or complete the enquiry form and we’ll get in touch.