Party Wall etc., Act 1996
If you are proposing to carry out work within three or six meters of a party or boundary wall you will invariably have to consider your party wall liability under the Party Wall Act 1996. Under the terms of the Act, your neighbour has a right to be compensated for any loss or damage caused by your relevant works.
It’s different in Scotland and Northern Ireland where similar exposure is applicable under Common Law. It’s important to realise that public liability is not likely to provide you with adequate protection, as the damage caused would be classed as a foreseeable loss, not an unforeseen loss.
What is a Party Wall?
The main types of party walls are:
- A wall that stands on the property of two (or more) owners and forms part of a building – this wall can be part of one building only or separate buildings belonging to different owners.
- A wall that stands on the property of two owners but does not form part of a building, such as a garden wall (but not timber fences)
a wall that is on one owner’s land but is used by two (or more) owners to separate their buildings
- The Act also uses the expression ‘party structure’. This could be a wall or floor partition or other structure separating buildings or parts of buildings in different ownership, such as in flats.
Loft conversions, extensions, remodels and basements can all create responsibilities under the Act. where works may include:
- Building a new wall on or at the boundary of two properties
cutting into a party wall
- Making a party wall taller, shorter or deeper
- Removing chimney breasts from a party wall
- Knocking down and rebuilding a party wall
- Digging below the foundation level of a neighbour’s property
When do you need to inform your neighbour?
Under the terms of the Act, your neighbour has a right to be compensated for any loss or damage caused by your relevant works.
You must tell your neighbour if you want to:
- Build on or at the boundary of your two properties
- Work on an existing party wall or party structure
- Dig below and near to the foundation level of their property
The Department for Communities and Local Government has produced a helpful guide.
Your neighbours can’t stop you from making changes to your property that are within the law, but they can affect how and when your works are carried out.
Subject to certain conditions, your contractual liability can be included in a Protek Site Insurance policy, but the you will need to follow the requirements of the Act which will include serving a notice and having a condition survey carried out on the neighbouring property. We will ask you whether or not you are working on or adjacent to a Party Wall and then guide you through the rest of the process.
If you would like to discuss the process in more detail, please call us on 0333 456 8030