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

Does the Party Wall etc. Act 1996 affect me?

Party Wall etc. Act 1996If you’re unsure if the Party Wall etc. Act 1996 affects you, here’s some advice from the Faculty of Party Wall Surveyors.

DO YOU INTEND TO CARRY OUT WORK WHICH INVOLVES:

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?

If so you must find out whether the work falls within the scope of the Act. If it does you must serve the statutory notice on all those defined in the Act as ‘adjoining owners’.

Determining if a particular building project is within the scope of the Party Wall etc. Act 1996 is often more complex than simply checking the general criteria stated above. Failure to correctly identify the status of your project could result in the building works being unlawful. If you are in any doubt you should always seek professional advice.

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 in need of a Party Wall Surveyor, contact us on 01635 579 208. We are proud members of the Faculty of Party Wall Surveyors and the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS).

Role of a Party Wall Surveyor

Role of a Party Wall SurveyorThe Role of a Party Wall Surveyor

Any surveyor appointed under section 10 of the Party Wall etc. Act 1996 is undertaking a statutory role. The appointed surveyor should seek to conclude an award that fairly sets out the rights and obligations of both owners, ensuring that the work specified in the award is permissible under the Act. The award should enable the building owner to carry out the work without causing unnecessary inconvenience to adjoining owners or occupiers. An award regulates the way in which the works are to be conducted, as well as dealing with any other related incidental matters such as costs and compensation.

The award is a legally binding document. Once an award has been produced, the surveyor may choose to inspect the works during their course to see they are being properly carried out, and/or at their completion check for any damage to the adjoining owner’s property.

The surveyors prepare the award, which is a legal document between the two owners.  The surveyors normally meet at the property and prepare a schedule of condition (although not a requirement of the Act).  The schedule of condition assists all parties as any damage that may be caused can be checked against it and compensation awarded if required.

A party wall surveyor’s remit is strictly limited to those matters governed by the Act. Consequently, the primary duty in the role of a party wall surveyor is to ensure that the Act’s requirements are administered properly, efficiently and fairly.

Appointment as an ‘Agreed Surveyor’                        

The two owners may expressly concur in the appointment of an ‘agreed surveyor’. This surveyor must act impartially and work towards concluding an award that is fair to both owners, regardless of which owner made the initial appointment, or if one owner is an established client. The agreed surveyor must conclude an award that sets out the rights and duties of both parties and the works to be carried out.

Who can act in the role of a Party Wall Surveyor?

The term “surveyor” is defined in the Act as any person who is not a party to the works.

It is clearly advantageous to appoint a person with the requisite technical skills and experience of administering the legislation.

The person chosen to negotiate the party wall agreement (award) should be knowledgeable about construction and be well versed in party wall procedures. Ideally, they should be registered with a regulating body within the industry, such as the Faculty of Party Wall Surveyors.

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 in need of a Party Wall Surveyor, contact us on 01635 579 208. We are proud members of the Faculty of Party Wall Surveyors and the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS).

RMA Surveyors – Party Wall Surveyors

Experienced Party Wall SurveyorsRMA Surveyors in Newbury, Berkshire are experienced Party Wall Surveyors. Providing professional advice on what can seem a daunting and complicated matter.

We are members of The Faculty of Party Wall Surveyors and offer party wall surveying and advice in compliance with The Party Wall Act 1996.

We act on behalf of building owners and adjoining owners, as well as agreed surveyors for both parties.

If you’re in need of a Party Wall Surveyor, get in touch on 01635 579 208.

For further information on the Party Wall etc. Act 1996, take a look at the RICS Consumer Guide: Party Walls.

Types of Party Wall Notice

There are three types of Party Wall Notice that a building owner may have to serve on an adjoining owner when undertaking works that fall within the scope of the Party Wall etc. Act 1996.

The Party Wall Act covers:

– new building on or at the boundary of 2 properties

– work to an existing party wall or party structure

– excavation near to and below the foundation level of neighbouring buildings

This may, for example, include:

  • building a new wall on or at the boundary of 2 properties
  • cutting into a party wall
  • making a party wall taller, shorter or deeper
  • removing chimney breasts from a party wall
  • knocking down and rebuilding a party wall
  • digging below the foundation level of a neighbour’s property

Remember, the main types of party walls are:

  • a wall that stands on the lands of 2 (or more) owners and forms part of a building – this wall can be part of one building only or separate buildings belonging to different owners
  • a wall that stands on the lands of 2 owners but does not form part of a building, such as a garden wall but not including timber fences
  • a wall that is on one owner’s land but is used by 2 (or more) owners to separate their buildings

The Act also uses the expression ‘party structure’. This could be a wall or floor partition or other structure separating buildings or parts of buildings in different ownership, such as in flats.

For further information, view the Government Guidance.

Which Party Wall Notice should be used?

Party Structure Notice

  • A party structure notice, under section 3 of the Party Wall etc. Act 1996, describes the intention to exercise rights, conferred under section 2, to undertake certain works to a party structure and certain limited works to an adjoining owner’s independent building (minimum notice period is two months). The required notices must be served on all adjoining owners with an interest in the relevant structures or land.

Notice of Adjacent Excavation

  • Notices of Adjacent Excavation are concerned with works notifiable under section 6 of the Act. The provisions of section 6 of the Party Wall etc. Act 1996 (the Act) are designed to try to avoid the careless destabilising of the foundations to buildings and structures that are in close proximity to a development site. If works will involve excavation of any type (whether or not for foundations), and that excavation falls within certain dimensional parameters in relation to an adjoining building or structure, then notices must be served.

Line of Junction Notice

  • A line of junction notice describes the intention to construct a wall either astride or abutting a boundary, which is not presently built upon, or is built upon only to the extent of a simple boundary wall wholly on one party’s land. (Minimum notice period is one month).

For more information on Party Wall Notices view the RICS Guide to Party Walls.

 

If you believe you need to serve a Party Wall Notice or you are in receipt of one, call RMA Surveyors for professional advice. Proud members of the Faculty of Party Wall Surveyors and the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors.

RMA Surveyors are experienced Party Wall surveyors providing 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.

Contact RMA Surveyors in Newbury, Berkshire on 01635 579208.

 

 

Faculty of Party Wall Surveyors Members

RMA Surveyors Ltd are proud to announce they have been accepted for membership of the Faculty of Party Wall Surveyors. RMA Surveyors Ltd have always acted as competent party wall surveyors, and are pleased to reinforce this by accreditation from this prestigious organisation. RMA Surveyors Ltd will assist the Faculty in maintaining the highest standards of professional practice in the field of Party Wall Surveying.

Faculty of Party Wall Surveyors Logo

Professional

RMA Surveyors Ltd will be continue to act professionally in accordance with the Party Wall etc. Act 1996 on all party wall matters. Whether they be acting for an adjoining owner, building owner, or for both as an agreed surveyor.

RMA Surveyors Ltd are pleased to be part of an organisation whose membership includes the most eminent practitioners in Party Wall matters.

Faculty of Party Wall Surveyors

The Faculty of Party Wall Surveyors have enjoyed steady and continual growth since its inception. Their members benefit from legal support and counsel when required. By obtaining membership RMA Surveyors Ltd belong to the principle organisation dedicated to Party Wall matters. Effectively anyone can call themselves a party wall surveyor, membership of this organisation ensures that a minimum standard of competence is required. The Faculty provide telephone advice to surveyors and the public, provide a list of party wall surveyors

Richard Mountain MRICS MFPWS, RMA Surveyors Ltd managing director, said “Becoming a member of the Faculty demonstrates to appointing owners, that we will deliver a high level of professional competence. The Faculty provides us with additional resources and support when dealing with the technicalities of interpreting the Party Wall Act, it also gives those we act for a method of redress. These two factors are critical, when there are unfortunately some unscrupulous companies trading as party wall surveyors, who do not act properly.”

If you have a Party Wall matter you need to discuss contact RMA Surveyors Ltd, who will be happy to assist.