Undertaking a new project to your home can be very exciting, but it can also be overwhelming. Knowing which documents and permissions are required is very important, especially if you don’t want to upset your neighbours.
A Party Wall Agreement is needed when any works are being done that may affect an adjoining property, and are not necessarily limited to the wall itself. You will also need to one if any work is being done to shared party structures, such as floors between flats.
The Party Wall etc. Act (1996) covers the construction of new party walls and any work affecting existing ones. It applies to both indoor and outdoor boundary walls. The ‘etc.’ part of the act covers building walls immediately next to the boundary and any excavation (for drains as well as foundation) within 3 metres of your neighbours’ building (not land) which may go below the level of existing foundations. Since modern foundations are a lot deeper than on traditional houses, this catches almost any extension in urban areas.
The 1996 Party Wall etc. Act also requires that you serve your neighbours with notice if you are doing works that may affect the adjoining property. This can be from 2 months to a year before starting works. This notifies them of the works you intend to carry out and allows them to gain an understanding of the process. It allows for the completion of a Schedule of Condition of the party wall, which will protect you from any false claims of damage from the works carried out.
It is important to note that not all projects will need party wall consent. Minor works, such as drilling, plastering and electrical rewiring, do not require a Party Wall Agreement. A Party Wall Agreement is separate from a planning application and may be required even if your project does not need planning permission. Make sure to speak to your architect if you think you may be required to serve a Party Wall Notice or have any questions on the process.