Why it's important to get a Party Wall Award
If you’re planning work on your property either internally or externally which could affect a wall you share with your neighbour or you intend to excavate near a neighbours structure or shared boundary wall, you should submit formal notice in accordance with the Party Wall etc. Act 1996, and, depending on their response, a Party Wall Award to allow the work to go ahead without risking your neighbour taking legal action against you. Here are some of the circumstances when Party Wall notices and Awards are needed and why they’re important.
When Party Wall Agreements are needed
Works like loft extensions, putting in a damp proof course or adding an extension to any part of your house could require a Party Wall Agreement. For people in terrace and semi-detached houses, there are walls you share with your neighbour both inside and any outside walls that cross property borders. Even detached houses may need one if they are carrying out excavations in their garden that come close to their neighbours’ gardens like those needed to build an ext3ension if they come within three or six meters of their property depending on the depth of the new foundations. If you are planning works which you are unsure whether you will need a Party Wall Agreement for or not, we would be happy to advise you.
What can happen if you don’t have a Party Wall Agreement
Ideally, you would obtain a Party Wall Agreement from your neighbours before beginning any work. You do this by serving them a notice which contains an agreement for them to sign. If they agree and sign it, there is no need for a Party Wall Award but some people choose to have them anyway. However, if they don’t, you will need one. If you don’t get the agreement or a Party Wall Award, you leave yourself open to legal claims against you. Even a friendly neighbour could put in a claim against you for damage they believe the work caused their property and it would be very hard to prove they were wrong without a Party Wall Award and/or condition survey in place. They could also take you to court to try to stop the work proceeding which could become very expensive. All of these issues can be mitigated by either getting an agreement or getting a Party Wall Award.
Neighbours could refuse to give you their agreement to your works for all kinds of reasons but, fortunately, this doesn’t prevent the work from going ahead. In these circumstances, you will need to engage an independent surveyor, who isn’t currently working for either party, to draw up a Party Wall Award. This details the proposed works and may include the condition of the properties affected complete with pictures. Then the work can go ahead with no misunderstandings about what needs to be done or what damage the work has caused that wasn’t already there.
Telling your neighbours exactly what you plan to do and how it will affect their property in a friendly informal way before you issue the party wall notice can go a long way to preventing any issues. Even if your neighbour is, in principle, happy for you to do the work, they and you may want a Party Wall Award anyway to lay out exactly what needs to be done and to establish the condition of the properties before the work begins to avoid any misunderstandings later on. If you have any doubt as to whether you need to obtain agreement or a Party Wall Award, simply get in touch on 01273 281624 or email firstname.lastname@example.org and we will advise you.