What is the party wall act?
The Party Wall Act etc. 1996 has been in effect for the whole of England since 1996 and affects any party wall, party structure and some party fence walls. Should you be proposing to undertake any works that may affect these, then you must, by law, issue a notice to your affected neighbour(s)
Works that are generally affected include extensions on the line of junction (Typically classed as the nominal boundary line between properties) IE extension on the line of junction, either one side of, or straddling the line.
Works that affect the party wall between properties, IE Loft conversions and lounge /diner/ kitchen knock-throughs, where the insertion of steel beams and flashings, etc. may affect the neighbouring properties.
Excavation works and underpinning works within either 3M or 6M of a neighbours properties, that effect the foundations, typically where these works are to a level lower than the bottom, or effect the area beneath the neighbouring properties.
Works to flats, may in some instances, affect the neighbouring structures, IE Removing walls that give a right of support, or working within floor/ceiling voids.
If your neighbour is proposing works that may affect you (see the typical scenarios above.)
Then they should have at least served notice upon you ( if more than one person owns the property, IE a freeholder, then notice should ideally be served to all parties, including tenants with more than 1 years right to the property)
You then have the choice of;
1) Agreeing, in which case, this should be in writing
2) Do nothing, (dissent) in which case a party wall surveyor will be appointed on your behalf to undertake a schedule of condition and agree a party wall award.
3) Dissent from the works, but have your own party wall surveyor to represent you, this can also be, by agreement be the same surveyor who represents your neighbour undertaking the works, (known as an agreed surveyor.)
Please be aware, dispute over where the boundary lies (between you and your neighbour) are often outside of the party wall act, and it is recommended that you separately appoint surveyors to deal with this. We of course are able to accommodate these requests, however most surveyors who undertake party wall works, will probably also be able to help you too, though not under the Party Wall Act.
More information can be found here.
An explanatory booklet can be downloaded here:
If you require any further help on Party Wall matters please contact me.