A Guide to Party Wall Procedure

Party Wall Notice Requirement

RMA Surveyors Ltd provides professional and independent advice concerning Party Wall procedure.

If you intend to carry out building work to your property which could affect your neighbour, you should determine whether works require notification under the Party Wall etc. Act 1996. Notifiable works include:

  • Work on an existing wall, structural soffit or floor structure shared with another property. e.g. loft conversion, supporting a beam on a party wall, removing walls in a flat, or digging out a basement.
  • Building on or at the boundary with another property. e.g. building an extension or replacing a boundary wall.
  • Excavating near a neighbouring building or structure to a depth lower than their existing foundation.

If the work undertaken is notifiable under the Party Wall Act etc. 1996, the correct type of notice not must be issued. RMA Surveyors provide advice and guidance on which Notice/s should be issued. See our Section Notices blog for more information.

The Party Wall Act is designed to avoid and minimise disputes, notices are served to ensure that the property owners notify their adjoining owners in advance of notifiable works commencing.

Party Wall Notices should contain the following:

  • Name the building owners (those proposing the work) and all adjoining owners (those potentially affected by the work).
  • Clearly indicate the work that is notifiable under the Act.
  • State a proposed start date in accordance with the notice periods prescribed by the Act.
  • Be dated and signed by the building owner or their representative with the authority to act on their behalf.
  • Notices will usually be accompanied by drawings or plans to illustrate the proposals of the notifiable works.

Once notice is served the adjoining owner can:

  • Provide written consent within 14 days from the date of the notice.
  • Provide written consent with conditions (which may be refused) in writing within 14 days.
  • Refuse consent, which will start the dispute resolution process.
  • Do nothing. The matter will be deemed to be in dispute after 14 days, then the adjoining owner should appoint a surveyor within 10 days, or one will be appointed on their behalf.
  • Serve a counter notice requesting additional works be done at the same time. There may be a cost implication to the adjoining owner in this regard.

Notices may have to be served up to two months before work commences (timings vary dependent on the notice served).

If consent is not agreed or notice is ignored,  the Act provides for the appointment of an independent surveyor to act on behalf on the adjoining owner. In this case an Agreed Surveyor (a surveyor appointed to act for the interests of both parties) cannot be appointed.  Where a dispute does arise, the Agreed Surveyor route is often the more cost effective route for the building owner. This arrangement can only be made by agreement from both parties in writing.

Once Surveyors are appointed they should act independently. They are not required to fight their appointing owner’s corner, rather their role is to determine the dispute between owners.

If the building owner does not comply with the Party Wall etc. Act 1996, building works might be delayed, declared unlawful, and might incur a court injunction preventing works proceeding and associated legal costs.

If you need Party Wall advice or help through the Party Wall process, call RMA Surveyors on 01635 579 208.

Section 5 of the Party Wall etc. Act 1996

Section 5 of the Party Wall etc. Act 1996Section 5 of the Party Wall etc. Act 1996 deals with the disputes that arise under Section 3 and Section 4 of the Party Wall Act.

As already established in Section 3 and Section 4 of the Party Wall Act, Section 5 deals with disputes that arise when a party structure notice or a counter notice has been served.

Section 5 of the Party Wall etc. Act begins by setting out a time frame period by which an owner who is in receipt of a served notice must respond. This period is 14 days, and if the owner does not consent within this period, then a dispute is deemed to have arisen.

This section is an extremely small section of the Act and it simply consists of a single sentence. Although it does not state it within Section 5 of the Party Wall etc. Act, if a dispute is deemed to have arisen during or after that 14-day period then the dispute would be dealt with under Section 10 of the Party Wall Act.

A time period is necessary to allow a building owner to proceed with the party wall process, rather than be scuppered at the first hurdle, where an adjoining owner may decide to ignore the notice.

Despite the 14-day period, even if a decent is deemed to have arisen, owners can still agree at any time during the party wall process to consent to the works. If written consent is given, then there is no need to continue to pursue a dispute process.

If you require Party Wall advice, then contact us 01635 579208. Proud members of the Faculty of Party Wall Surveyors and the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors, RMA Surveyors Ltd provides professional, independent advice.


Section 4 of the Party Wall etc. Act 1996

Section 4 of the Party Wall etc. ActSection 4 of the Party Wall etc. Act 1996 deals with the serving of counter notices.

Such a notice might be triggered where an adjoining owner has received a party structure notice from a building owner but does not agree with the proposals put forward within that notice.

Section 4 of the Party Wall etc. Act allows an adjoining owner to serve upon a building owner a counter notice giving details of their requirements.

What can a Counter Notice request?

Paragraph 1a allows that adjoining owners may ask, where reasonably required, for a building owner to include such elements as chimney copings, breasts, jams or flues. It should be noted that this work would be done at the convenience of the adjoining owner.

Furthermore, an adjoining owner could serve a counter notice in respect of special foundations which the adjoining owner would consent under section point 7 of the act. He may request that the special foundations be placed at a greater depth than that proposed by the building owner or be constructed of sufficient strength to bear the load to be carried by columns of any intended building of the adjoining owner. Or both.

Section 4 of the Party Wall etc. Act 1996 – Issuing a Counter Notice

If an adjoining owner decides to issue a counter notice, the counter notice should specify the works required, and should be accompanied by plans, sections and particulars of those works. It should also be served within a period of one month, beginning on the day on which the building owners party structure notice was served.

If a building owner receives a counter notice he should comply with the requirements of the notice, unless the works described within the counter notice would be injurious to him, cause unnecessary convenience to him or cause unnecessary delay in the execution of works pursuant to the party structure notice.

Where an adjoining owner issues a counter notice it would be dealt with by the surveyors as a dispute will deemed to have arisen and owners can not determine a dispute themselves but it is the responsibility of the adjoining owner to serve the notice, and not the surveyor, unless the surveyor has been given the authority to do so. In practise it is unusual for counter notices to be served, however, the Act does allow for counter notices to be served and there are occasions where it is necessary to issue a counter notice.

Need advice?

If you have any Party Wall concerns or feel that a counter notice needs to be served under Section 4 of the Party Wall etc. Act 1996, then please call us for advise on 01635 579208.

RMA Surveyors are proud members of the Faculty of Party Wall Surveyors and of the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors.

Section 3 of the Party Wall etc. Act 1996

Section 3 of the Party Wall etc. Act

Section 3 of the Party Wall etc. Act 1996 deals with the requirements for issuing a Party Structure Notice.

Before a building owner can exercise any right conferred to him under Section 2 of the Party Wall Act he should serve on an adjoining owner a Party Structure Notice stating his intentions.

What should a Party Structure Notice contain?

A party structure notice should be served to the adjoining owner 2 calendar months before the works are due to begin. Although there is no express requirement within this section to include a date on the notice it is implied by the Act’s stipulation of the notice period. The notice will cease to be effective if the works in which it relates do not begin within 12 months, beginning with the day of which the notice was served and if the work is not undertaken with due diligence.

A Party Structure Notice should include the name and address of the building owner, as well as the particulars and description of the proposed works. In cases where the building owner is seeking to construct special foundations, then plans, sections and details of these foundations, together with structural engineer calculations of the loads to be carried, should also be included. The notice should also include the date on which proposed works are due to commence.

Serving Notice

Notices under Section 3 of the Party Wall etc. Act pertain only to Section 2 of the Act. It is deemed by party wall professionals that the format of notices under this section should also be applied for notices of adjacent excavation as well as line of junction notices.

If a notice is not served then the Act is not invoked, nor are the rights conferred under the Act. Notice can be issued by anyone, although in our experience it can be easy for the lay person to make a mistake on a notice which can invalidate it. We advise clients that the cost is minimal and it is usually best to allow us to issue valid notice/s on their behalf. If an invalid notice is served there is a possibility that notice will need to reissued leading to inevitable delays. It should be noted that Party Wall Notices are legal documents.

When a notice is served by another party on behalf of the building owner it should be made clear that this is the case on the notice. The person serving notice should have written authority to do so. A party wall surveyor serving notice is acting as an agent at this stage, not a party wall surveyor. Party Wall Surveyors can only be appointed as a Party Wall Surveyor once a notice has been served and a dispute has arisen. Appointment of Surveyors is covered under Section 10 of the Act.

Agreement to a notice can be given at any time, even if the process of dispute has commenced. An adjoining owners consent to any notice must be in writing. Party wall notices become legally binding documents and any consent given needs to be documentable. This prevents any potential misunderstandings once works are underway.

If you require advice regarding Section 3 of the Party Wall etc. Act or indeed any Party Wall matter, contact us 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


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.

Need a Party Wall Award?

party wallHaving recently undertaken Party Wall Award Notices in Windsor, Newbury and Leckhampstead. RMA Surveyors Ltd are experienced in providing advice in compliance with The Party Wall Act 1996, throughout Berkshire and the South-East.

The Party Wall etc Act 1996 provides a framework for preventing and resolving disputes in relation to party walls, boundary walls and excavations near neighbouring buildings.

The Act is separate from obtaining planning permission or building regulations approval. It provides a mechanism for preventing and resolving disputes relating to building work near or on a shared property boundary, or ‘party wall’.

If you require advice on a Party Wall, contact us on 01635 579 208.

For further reading on Party Walls visit the RICS information page.

Multiple Party Wall Awards

party wallWe undertook an instruction as Party Wall Surveyor to act on behalf of a building owner who was developing a site in Newbury.

The site itself was bounded by some residential properties at the front and a commercial property to the rear. The residential property at the front also had a retail unit on the ground floor.

To properly undertake the instruction notice was required to be served to all adjoining owners with an interest in the property. This included the freeholder of the residential units, the leaseholder of the retail unit and the freeholder of the commercial unit to the rear. Fortunately, the leaseholder and the freeholder of the commercial unit were the same party.

All parties dissented to works and required the appointment of their own surveyor to act on their behalf. In actuality, one of the adjoining owner’s surveyors acted on behalf of two parties, with a second adjoining owner acting on behalf of the other party.

Three separate Party Wall Awards were required to be issued. In order to minimise the cost to our appointing owner who would be responsible for all fees, we made assessment of adjoining owner’s fees and agreed a reasonable rate. We also organised to meet all surveyors out on site on the same day, to minimise time on site while discussing the critical issues that needed to form the basis of the Party Wall Award.

Without our professional input, the developer may have found difficulty in identifying the correct parties to serve the notice on, issue applicable notices, liaise with adjoining owner’s surveyors and form a Party Wall Agreement.

It is often thought by building owners that the Party Wall process is easily managed by themselves but we have often found that parties that have issued notice have issued invalid notice, which can delay works or can become confounded by the detail surrounding the Party Wall Act and can quickly find themselves out of their depth when matters become more complex.

If you have any Party Wall issues, please contact us for advice on 01635 579208 or complete the form below and we’ll get in touch.

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How do you know if the Party Wall Act etc 1996 applies to works?

New structure adjoining older structureIf you are planning on undertaking building works the Party Wall etc Act 1996 may apply. If you do not know of a requirement to serve or respond to notices you are not alone and we can help.

Many people are unaware of their obligations and rights that the Party Wall Act provides. Building works that proceed without complying with the Act can lead to significant difficulties, legal action, and a breakdown in neighbourly relations. Iit is not just building works directly affecting a party wall or boundary wall that may require action under the Act.

A Building Owner may decide to build a permanent structure on his own land within 6 meters of a neighboring party structure, build near or on a boundary or cut into or otherwise alter an existing party wall. In all these cases the Party Wall Act can apply. The Act allows for a Building owner to progress with works whilst protecting the an Adjoining Owners’ interests.

Where an Adjoining owner has concerns regarding a neighbors’ proposals they can appoint an independent party wall surveyor to provide help and explain the implications and procedures of the Act.

The requirements of the act stipulate that where there is a disagreement, a Party wall surveyor can step in to guide the process according to a defined protocol. Anyone can act as a Party Wall Surveyor. However a surveyor should ideally be experienced in construction,  have read, understood and be able to operate within the Act, interpret technical details, drawings and ultimately work diplomatically to provide swift resolution.

Six Steps to a Party Wall Award

Party wallRecently we have had a number of requests for information regarding party wall procedure. With the aim of providing guidance the following is an overview of the basic procedure of serving Party Wall notices:

1. Firstly, do you need to issue a party wall notice? For the sake of argument let’s say you do. Do you know what type of notice needs to be served? A line of junction notice? A party structure notice? Or a notice of adjacent excavation? In some cases it may be just one in some cases it may be all three. This can easily be determined by any good Party Wall Surveyor who knows the Party Wall Act.

2. Secondly, on whom are you serving notice? Who is the freeholder? Are there any leaseholders? Does the proposed work affect more than one structure? If so, there are likely to be a number of parties to whom notice must be served.

3. With the aforementioned identified notice can be served. RMA Surveyors Ltd are often asked to become involved in Party Wall matters after notice has been served. Clients sometimes see an early saving being made by not appointing a Party Wall Surveyor, as the process seems simple at the outset. However, as the process develops it can become more complex and Building Owners seek to appoint Party Wall Surveyors to untangle the knots. We would say two things at this juncture. Firstly, fees for initial notice are usually minimal. Secondly, issue of the correct, properly drafted notices at the outset will save time. If a notice is not correct, it is invalid and another valid notice must be served. It can take two months before works can start from date of issue of a valid notice.

4. Valid notice is served to the Adjoining Owner. They now have fourteen days to respond. The adjoining owner can assent or dissent to the proposed works. If the adjoining owner does not respond in this period, works are deemed to be in dispute. If the Adjoining Owner agrees to works, the Building Owner may, by written agreement, proceed with works. We strongly recommend a condition survey of the Adjoining Owner’s property be undertaken prior to works commencing, to provide a benchmark and avoid later dispute.

5. If no response is received or the Adjoining Owner dissents to works the building owner will need to write to the adjoining owner to request they appoint a Party Wall Surveyor. The Adjoining Owner may opt to use the Surveyor appointed by the Building Owner. They may prefer to appoint their own Surveyor. In most cases the fee for the Adjoining Owner’s Surveyor will be borne by the Building Owner.

6. Once appointed the Agreed Surveyor or Surveyors should then work to draw up a Party Wall Award. A Party Wall Award is the framework whereby works affecting the party structure are to be executed. A condition survey of the Adjoining Owner’s property will be undertaken. Once the Party Wall Award is agreed and published works can commence from the date stated within the Award.

Please also see our Party Wall Pitfalls blog with more useful guidance about the Party Wall process.