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.

Section 1 of the Party Wall etc. Act 1996

Section 1 of the Party Wall etc. ActSection 1 of the Party Wall etc. Act: RMA Surveyors have served numerous Party Wall notices on behalf of building owners who are undertaking works notifiable under the Party Wall Act etc. 1996.

There are three types of notices. This article deals with the requirements of Section 1 of the Party Wall etc. Act, where notice is required in respect of construction and repair of walls on a Line of Junction.

Section 1 has an effect where lands of different property owners adjoin and there is no building on a line of junction other than a boundary wall [note: In this case a wall is defined as a wall; and a timber fence is not deemed to be included under this definition].

A notice is required where either owner is about to build on any part of the Line of Junction. A Line of Junction is a specific term that would be determined between owners or their appointed surveyors. It is not deemed to be a boundary line, as the Party Wall Act is not legislation that can determine a boundary dispute.

If a building owner wants to build a party wall or a party fence wall on the Line of Junction, they should issue a notice to the adjoining owner at least one month before they intend to start building works and the notice should indicate their desire to build and the works intended.

If the adjoining owner, upon receipt of the notice, agrees with the works, the wall can be built half upon the land of each owner. This would be either side of the Line of Junction or the position agreed by the two owners (and/or their surveyors, if required).

In such an instance that the adjoining owner agrees, the cost of the wall would be split between the two owners, in such a proportion as to who made most use of the construction.

If the cost is deferred by one owner until a later date, it is usually the case that the cost they pay would be the equivalent to the cost of labour and materials at that later date. This seeks to take account of inflation or deflation.

If however, the adjoining owner does not consent to the works proceeding, the building owner may still build the wall but it would be at his own expense and the wall would be placed wholly upon his own land. Consent would need to be written if the building owner wanted to build upon the Line of Junction a wall that is placed wholly on his land, he would still need to serve the adjoining owner a notice describing the intended wall. And where the building owner builds a wall wholly on his land, he should have the right at any time, to begin construction one month after the day on which the notice was originally served and 12 months after that date.

The building owner would be able to place below the level of the land of adjoining owner a projecting footing and foundations as are necessary for the construction of the wall.

In many cases, nowadays, it is rarely necessary for there to be projecting footings, as walls can be built off eccentric foundations, however, that said, each case should be judged on its own merits.

Where a building owners builds a wall entirely on his own land, and does so at his own expense, he would still need to compensate the adjoining owner or any adjoining occupier for any damage to the adjoining property caused by building the wall or by placing the footings and foundations on the adjoining owners property.

Should any dispute arise under Section 1 of the Party Wall etc. Act 1996, the building owner and adjoining owner or occupier of the adjoining owners land should determine that dispute in accordance with Section 10 and this would entail appointing a surveyor(s) to act upon behalf of the parties.

If you would like professional advice contact RMA Surveyors, members of RICS. Contact us on 01635 579208.

Party Wall Notice Requirement

Party Wall Notice RequirementParty Wall Notice Requirement – Party wall notices are required where a property owner (The Building Owner) is planning works that are likely to affect a neighbouring owner’s (The Adjoining Owner) property.

The definitions of the Party Wall Act Etc. 1996 are clear and explain the circumstances where notice is required to be served, as well as the types of structures that are covered by the Act.
For example, we recently had an enquiry from somebody concerned that the tree on their property was likely to be affected by the neighbours building proposals. They were disappointed that, as a Party Wall Surveyors, we were unable to assist them. The party wall act does not define trees as a party structure.

That said, the definitions of structures that can be affected are not restricted to walls that separate adjoining buildings. Section 6 of the Party Wall Act is often flouted where Building Owners do not realise that where works involve excavations within 3 (or in some cases 6) metres of an Adjoining Owner’s structure, and to a depth lower than their foundation, then notice must be served.  Furthermore, Section 1 of the Party Wall Act requires notice to be served when the building owner is building on the line of junction. This can mean a party wall or a party fence wall. The definitions of a ‘party fence wall’ are provided within Section 20 of the Act, it is a wall that is not part of a building that stands on lands of different owners. However, timber fences are not considered party fence walls.

RMA Surveyors are members of the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors, providing clear and professional advice on Party Wall matters.

If you need to understand your Party Wall Notice Requirement then contact us on 01635 579208.

Party Wall Flow Chart

Experienced Party Wall surveyors, RMA Surveyors in Berkshire, can provide advice on Party Wall matters and act on behalf of building owners and adjoining owners.

If you’re unsure whether the Party Wall etc. Act 1996 applies to your situation, take a look at the Faculty of Party Wall Surveyors (FPWS) useful (guidance only) flow chart.

If you need professional advice, call RMA Surveyors on 01635 579208 or contact us via our enquiry form.

If an owner wishes to undertake works that fall within the remit of the Party Wall etc. Act 1996 then it is their statutory duty to inform their neighbour(s) by serving a party wall notice.

The following diagram is a flow chart that sets out a step-by-step guidance only of what to do.   Please, however, contact a member for professional advice:

Party Wall diagram

Building Work to a Party Wall

Are you Planning Building Work to a Party Wall?

Are you planning building work to a party wall or structure that you share with your neighbour? Is your neighbour undertaking building work that will affect your property?

Building Work to a Party Wall Can Be a Matter For the Courts

If you are planning building work or your neighbour is proposing work that affects a party wall or party structure then there is a legal requirement to meet the provisions of the Party Wall etc. Act 1996.  If your property is in England or Wales, this legislation must be followed. The law does not apply in Scotland or Northern Ireland.

What Is a Party Wall?

A Party Wall can be defined many ways. Principally it is a wall that sits across the boundary between two or more properties, such as the dividing wall between adjoining houses. It could also be the dividing floor between flats.

The Act also protects structures that stands completely on one owner’s land. Sometimes this can be astride the line of junction and can be used by both owners. i.e. Where one owner has built a wall and the adjoining owner has built up against it enclosing the structure. In that particular example only part of that wall might be considered a ‘party wall’.

Properties that are completely independent of one another can also be subject to the Act. If a building owner is planning to undertake excavations up to 6 metres from an adjoining owners structure there may also be a requirement to adhere to the Act.

A ‘party fence wall’ is a wall that does not form part of a building and stands on land belonging to different owners. This could be a garden wall, but does not include a timber fence.

There are many instances where the Party Wall Act may or may not be relevant. For this reason we always recommend it is assessed by a professional to assist, who both knows the workings of the Act and has technical construction expertise.

Does the Party Wall Act Apply To Me?

Providing the structure or structures in question meets the definitions within the Party Wall Act there is ikely to be a requirement that works need to be agreed with the adjoining owner. Simple works, such as installing shelves, replacing electrical sockets or wiring, does not require an agreement. But you should only do certain building work to a party wall or party structure once the adjoining owner or owners have been formally notified in writing and agreed the works in advance of works proceeding. Examples of notifiable party wall work might include ork includes:

  • Cutting into a wall to take the weight of a beam or insert a flashing.
  • Inserting a damp proof course.
  • Demolition, reconstruction or underpinning a party wall.

If you’re planning to undertake excavations there are some comprehensive requirements defined within the Party Wall Act, that need to be properly understood to determine whether the Act applies.

When Does Party Wall Notice Need To Be Served?

If you are planning to undertake building work to a Party Wall then we suggest you inform your neighbour in good time. This is the most critical step and can often prevent unnecessary and costly dispute later on. The purpose of the Act is to avoid disputes arising by making sure owners are aware and agree the Party Wall works.

Where applicable you must notify your neighbour in writing before building work to a party wall begins. There is a minimum period for this notice to be served before building works affecting the party wall or structure can commence. If there is more than one person with an interest in the property (i.e. Leaseholders and Freeholders. Again these are clearly defined in the Act) you must notify all of them. If there are multiple properties affected they must all be notified.

The Act is specific about the requirements of issuing notice/s. It is very important that valid notice or notices are served. If notices are not valid they will need to be served again correctly and this will reset the minimum period.

What Happens If An Adjoining Owner Does Not Agree to Party Wall Works?

If an adjoining owner does not agree to works then a dispute is deemed to have arisen. Parties in dispute are not able to act as a surveyor for themselves . They need to appoint someone who can act independently. Owners may agree to appoint a single ‘agreed surveyor’, or they can each appoint their own surveyor to act upon their behalves. The expert or experts will agree the parameters of how the works should be carried out and will serve a ‘party wall award’ which will stipulate how works affecting the party structure will be completed.

The award usually contains a schedule of condition of the affected elements of the adjoining owner’s property before work begin. This provides an accurate record of the condition of the building prior to works so damage (if any) can be properly defined after works have been completed.

RMA Surveyors are Chartered Building Surveyors, Members of the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors. We are experts in party wall matters. If you need advice in relation to the Party Wall Act contact us for clear and reliable advise.

The Party Wall etc. Act 1996 amendment

Party Wall etc Act 1996On April 06 2016, the first amendment to The Party Wall etc. Act came into force, since it was enacted in 1996.

The Party Wall etc. Act 1996 (Electronic Communications) Order 2016 was approved by the Department for Communities and Local Government on 10th March 2016.

What Amendment has been made to the Party Wall etc. Act?

The Order amends section 15 of the Party Wall etc. Act 1996, which is in relation to the service of notices. Previously legislation allowed for notices and documents to be served or given only in person or by post. This amendment will mean that notices and documents pursuant to the provisions of the Act may be achieved by electronic communications, provided that the intended recipient has stated a willingness to receive them by those means.

The new section 15 (1a&c) states that ‘a notice or other document required or authorised to be served under this Act may also be served on a person (“the recipient”) by means of an electronic communication, but only if— (a) the recipient has stated a willingness to receive the notice or document by means of an electronic communication; and (c) the notice or document was transmitted to an electronic address specified by the recipient.’

A Party Wall usually separates buildings belonging to different owners, but could include garden walls built astride a boundary (known as party fence walls). The Act is designed to avoid and minimise disputes. It makes sure property owners notify adjoining owners in advance of proposed works. It’s important to remember that notice should be served even if works are being undertaken only to your side of a wall.

If you need advice on Party Wall matters, please contact RMA Surveyors.  We are members of the RICS and provide 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. Call us on 01635 579208 or complete the enquiry form.

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 RICS. Please contact us and we will be happy to help.

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.

Defect Specific Reports

Specific DefectsIn addition to property surveys, RMA Surveyors Ltd undertake Defect Specific Reports. Each written report provides a clear, comprehensive and professional opinion regarding a particular problem (or ‘defect’) within a building.

In recent months, RMA Surveyors Ltd have visited a property in Thatcham to inspect a sagging roof, a site in Didcot to investigate cracking and building movement and a property in Hungerford to assess a damp issue.

Defect specific investigations and reports encapsulate the specific materials, construction and associated issues surrounding a specific building defect. Reports can be provided in a formal written report or in a letter or email format depending on the client’s requirements.

Specification for reinstatement and an estimate for repair costs can also be included.

If you have a concern regarding your property, get in touch for advice. Call us on 01635 579208 or complete the enquiry form.

As chartered surveyors, RMA Surveyors Ltd are members of and are regulated by the governing body RICS (Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors). As such, any client can be guaranteed a high professional standard of inspection and report.

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.