The Party Wall Act in a nutshell
The Party Wall Act is a relatively straightforward piece of legislation which controls construction work you may undertake where you are either adjoining, or very close to a neighbour under certain circumstances. If you live in a mid-terrace, end of terrace or semi-detached house, you will share a wall known as a party wall. This is a single wall which divides houses, however, a party structure is any structure which is shared. This may include chimneys and garden walls.
Do I Need a Party Wall Agreement?
If you are planning on undertaking any of the following works, and you live in a terraced, end of terrace or semi-detached house, you will need to deal with matters under the Party Wall Act:
1. Undertaking a loft conversion.
2. Altering the chimney, for example removing a chimney breast in a bedroom.
3. Undertaking a rear extension (in most cases).
4. Replacing the roof.
5. Cutting into a shared or party wall for structural reasons, for example, to remove the wall between your ground floor forward and rear rooms by inserting a steel.
These are just some of the works which mean that you will need to begin the Party Wall process, however, as a rule of thumb, most structural works undertaken to a shared party wall require a Party Wall Agreement.
Another scenario where you will need to have a Party Wall Agreement is where you are digging foundations for an extension within three metres of a neighbour, and your foundations are likely to go deeper than theirs. This is very common in Victorian houses, which tend to have quite shallow foundations of around 300 – 500mm. Most modern foundations will extend to a depth of not less than 1m.
When I do not need a Party Wall Agreement
Scenarios that do not need a Party Wall Agreement include things such as redecorating, refurbishing or replacing a bathroom or kitchen, hanging shelves, replacing windows and changing floor coverings, for example, tiling. As a rule of thumb, if it can be considered a DIY project, then it probably doesn’t need a Party Wall Agreement, dependent on how extensive the works are!
It is a legal requirement to have a Party Wall Agreement where you are undertaking the larger scale works outlined above, and if you do not have a Party Wall Agreement, problems may arise during the works which cannot be easily resolved, or your neighbour could take out an injunction against you to stop the works, and you would be wholly in the wrong.
It is always better to err on the side of caution.
Do you want to generate your own party wall notices? You can try our party wall notice generator.