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).