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What is a Party Wall?

If you or your neighbor have plans to embark on a kitchen extension, loft space conversion, internal layout reconfiguration, or basement excavation, it’s important to note that these proposed works may likely come under the purview of The Party Wall etc. Act 1996. This UK legislation deals with matters related to party walls, boundary walls, and similar structures situated near property boundaries, providing a structured framework for resolving issues while ensuring the protection of all parties’ rights and interests.

The Act primarily applies to England and Wales, specifying the procedures to be followed when property owners intend to carry out specific types of work affecting party walls or boundary walls. These types of works encompass:

Erecting a new wall on or astride the property boundary.

Making alterations to or demolishing an existing party wall or boundary wall.

Excavating near a neighboring building or structure within a 3 to 6-meter range, such as for foundation work.

Key Features of Party Wall Etc 1996

Party Wall Notices

Party Wall Notices: In the UK, when a property owner intends to undertake any of the specified works regulated by the Act, they are required to serve a Party Wall Notice to their neighboring property owners. This notice must furnish precise information about the proposed works and the intended start date. It’s important to note that a minimum of one month’s notice is necessary for Section 6 (1) or 6 (2), and a minimum of two months’ notice is required for Section 2.

Party Wall Award

If the affected neighbouring property owners give their consent to the proposed works, then there is no dispute. However, if a dispute arises, the Act outlines statutory procedures for resolving it through the appointment of surveyors or an agreed-upon party wall surveyor. They will produce a legally binding document called a Party Wall Award that sets out the details of the proposed works and how they will be carried out, taking into account the interests of all parties.


Dispute Resolution

In case of disagreements between the parties or if a neighbouring property owner does not respond to the Party Wall Notice, the Act provides provisions for dispute resolution in accordance with section 10 of the act through the appointment of surveyors to represent each party’s interests and make decisions accordingly. 


Rights of Access:

The Act allows the property owner carrying out the works to access the neighbouring property to carry out the necessary work related to the party wall or boundary wall. 

 It is vital and imperative that property owners familiarise themselves with the Party Wall etc Act 1996 if they are planning any works that may impact on the boundary or at the boundary/ shared wall. The sole responsibility lies on the building owner to understand the importance of party wall

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Types of work covered by the Party Wall Act

Section 1: new boundary walls

Common Misconceptions about Boundary Walls: When it comes to constructing new walls, the most frequent type is known as a 1(5) wall, which can be built right up to (but not beyond) the boundary. Some Adjoining Owners might believe that new walls should be set slightly back from the boundary, often due to advice from architects from decades ago. However, this isn’t the case. As long as key elements like roofs, gutters, and fascias don’t extend beyond the boundary, you’re free to build your wall right up to it without needing your neighbor’s consent.

Section 2 Work to a Party Wall

Section 2(2)(a):

Scenario: Underpinning a party wall, essential for basement excavations, and sometimes necessary for strengthening existing foundations in extensions.

Additional Note: This section also comes into play when raising a party wall, which is common when extending lofts and raising parapet walls.

Section 2(2)(b): Scenario: Repairing or demolishing and rebuilding a party wall when such repair is justified.

Section 2(2)(f): Scenario: Cutting into a party wall to accommodate steel beams (used in loft conversions or removing structural walls), joist hangers, or for installing waterproof lead flashings.

Section 2(2)(g): Scenario: Cutting away from a party wall, typically relevant for the removal of chimney breasts or structural walls.

Section 2(2)(l): Scenario: Raising or demolishing and rebuilding a garden party wall, often necessary to accommodate the flank wall of an extension.

Section 2(2)(n): Scenario: Exposing a party wall, while ensuring it is adequately protected against the weather.

Section 6 Excavations

This section of the Act applies to excavations for foundations that are within 3 metres of a neighbouring property and deeper than their existing foundations. The majority of London housing stock is either Victorian or built in the 1930s, and their foundations rarely exceed 30cm. However, proposed foundations will have to be a minimum of 1 metre deep to satisfy current Building Control requirements.

Party Wall Agreements are the bridge to maintaining peace between adjoining properties during construction, where understanding and cooperation are the pillars of good relations.

At AC Design Solution, we boast a dedicated team of four experienced Party Wall Surveyors, complemented by our specialized party wall administrators, ensuring a seamless experience for you. Our central office is conveniently located in Uxbridge.

Our reach extends across the entirety of the inner M25 region, facilitated by our extensive network of offices in London. If you are embarking on a project falling under the Act’s purview or have been served a notice regarding proposed works affecting your property, we extend a warm invitation to reach out for expert advice and guidance

What can I do if my neighbour has started work and ignored the Party Wall Act ?

– Don’t underestimate the importance of the Party Wall Act. Ignoring it can lead to serious legal repercussions, financial strain, and project delays. If you’re in London and your neighbor has begun construction without considering the Party Wall Act, you have the right to take legal action.

– Should a dispute arise due to your neighbor’s non-compliance with the Party Wall Act, you’re entitled to pursue legal action against them. Courts do not take kindly to anyone disregarding the legal obligations outlined in the Party Wall Act.

– One of the most significant consequences of facing legal action is the financial burden. Building Owners who neglect their responsibilities under the Party Wall Act may be held accountable for all the costs associated with the legal proceedings required to stop the work and resolve the matter. These expenses often exceed what it would have cost to comply with the Party Wall Act in the first place.

The court can issue an injunction, causing significant project delays and financial losses. Swift interim injunctions can halt work until Party Wall Act procedures are followed. 


How long will the Party Wall Award process take?

he time it takes to obtain a Party Wall Award can vary widely depending on several factors. It generally involves a structured process, and here are some factors that can influence the timeline:

Complexity of the project: Simple projects may have a quicker turnaround, while complex projects involving multiple properties or intricate construction plans may take longer.

Cooperation between parties: The willingness of all involved parties to cooperate and communicate can significantly impact the speed of the process. If all parties promptly respond to requests and agree to the terms, it can expedite the award.

Appointment of surveyors: The selection and availability of party wall surveyors can affect the timeline. In some cases, finding an available surveyor may take time.

Notice period: The Party Wall Act requires that you serve notice to your neighbors before work can commence. The notice period is typically two months, but it can be shorter for certain types of work.

Disputes and negotiations: If disputes or negotiations arise between the parties, it can prolong the process. Resolution of these issues may require additional time.

Surveyor’s inspection and report: After the surveyors are appointed, they need time to inspect the properties and prepare their reports. This process can take a few weeks.

Party Wall Award drafting: Once the surveyors have gathered their information, they need to draft the Party Wall Award. This can take a few more weeks.

In a straightforward case with cooperative parties, the process can take a few months. However, in more complicated cases with disputes or other delays, it can extend to several months or even longer. To make it easier, start the process well ahead of your planned construction start date to ensure you have enough time to obtain the necessary Party Wall Award.

My neighbour is building but hasn't informed me about any work taking place. what can i do?

Before undertaking any major renovations or construction that affects a party wall or adjoining structure an owner must seek consent from the adjoining owner(s). If the owner conducting the work has not sought consent, they are acting outside of the law and you may have to take action to stop them.

The process involves applying for an injunction from the County Court. A judge will listen to your case and you will likely be required to provide a cross-undertaking in costs – meaning that if your neighbour is not actually conducting illegal works, you will be liable for any costs incurred as a result of the injunction. It’s therefore wise to take legal advice before applying for an injunction.

Do I have to allow my Neighbours contractor on to my property

Under the Party Wall Act, you are obliged to permit your neighbor access to your property if there is no alternative means for them to complete their construction work, and they have provided you with the necessary notice. The standard notice period is typically 14 days. However, in urgent situations like a burst pipe, this notice period can be adjusted according to the severity of the emergency.

It’s important to emphasize that this access should be deemed “necessary.” If there is a feasible alternative for your neighbor to carry out the work, even if it involves slightly higher costs, they should opt for that alternative method.

The Party Wall Procedure


For work falling under Sections 1, 2, and 6 of the Act, Building Owners are required to inform all impacted Adjoining Owners. Typically, this notification process is managed by a surveyor appointed for the task, although some homeowners may opt to serve the notice themselves. Notice periods for Sections 1 and 6 are one month, while Section 2 has a two-month notice period.


When an Adjoining Owner receives a notice, they have the option to either provide consent or dissent. It’s important to clarify that this wording doesn’t imply consenting or objecting to the work itself; rather, it signifies whether they want to appoint surveyor(s) to safeguard their property interests. The available responses are:

Surveyor involvement is not required, allowing work to proceed. However, it’s important to note that consent may be conditional upon the inclusion of a Schedule of Condition, which serves as a written and photographic documentation of the property’s current state.

Dissent and concur in appointment of agreed surveyor

In this scenario, a single surveyor, known as the ‘Agreed Surveyor,’ will represent both the Building Owner and Adjoining Owner with impartiality and objectivity. This approach is advisable when the work is of a relatively straightforward nature.

Dissent and appoint their own surveyor

In this situation, an ‘Agreed Surveyor,’ acting as a single representative, will maintain impartiality and objectivity while representing both the Building Owner and Adjoining Owner. This choice is recommended for projects of a more straightforward nature.


This document comprises written and photographic documentation of the Adjoining Owner’s property before the commencement of the work. It serves as a means for the surveyor(s) to assess and establish whether any damage has occurred during the construction process.


The Award (often mistakenly referred to as a Party Wall Agreement) outlines the parties involved, the notifiable work, and specifies the method and schedule for its execution. Surveyor(s) may, for instance, stipulate that the cutting into the party wall for steel beams must be done exclusively with hand tools or that excavations near the Adjoining Owner’s extension should be conducted in 1-meter sections instead of all at once.


Once the contents of the Award, including any pertinent drawings, have been finalized, it is then formally delivered to both owners. Subsequently, the Building Owner is now legally authorized to commence the work, provided that any notice periods have either expired or been waived.


In this process, the surveyor(s) review the Schedule of Condition, and if everything is in order, they finalize the documentation. If any damage is identified, the Adjoining Owner has the option to either request the Building Owner’s contractor to rectify the damage or receive compensation instead and then proceed to engage their own contractor for the necessary repairs.