Party walls usually separate buildings belonging to different owners but could include garden walls built astride a boundary – known as party fence walls.
Where a wall separates buildings of different height, it is often the case that only the part of the wall that does the separating is a party wall, the rest belongs to the person or persons on whose land it stands.
The Party Wall etc. Act 1996 (the Act) provides that homeowners in England and Wales need to follow a specified procedure when building work affects the party wall or party fence wall and where excavations are close to a neighbouring property.
The Act attempts to minimise disputes. When one neighbour does not agree to another neighbour’s works, a surveyor will determine the timing and method in which those works are carried out. Overill Associates surveyors can provide a dispute arbitration service if a dispute cannot be resolved easily.
Overill Associates can act on behalf of clients as a party wall surveyor to identify ownership of a wall and also draw up an agreement known as ‘The Award’ to allow works to be undertaken.
The Award will detail the work to be carried out, when and how it will be done and usually records the condition of the relevant part of adjoining property before work begins. It may also grant access to both properties so that the works can be safely carried out and the surveyors can inspect work in progress. The agreement may also determine who pays for the work if this is in dispute.