About the Party Wall etc. Act 1996

The Party Wall etc. Act 1996 introduced a procedure for resolving disputes between owners of neighbouring properties, arising as a result of one owner's intention to carry out works which would affect the other.

The legislation is in place to facilitate construction works while protecting the property interests of adjoining owners. The Act traces its origins back to 1666 when, following the Great Fire of London, authorities regulated the construction of party walls between properties. The statutes evolved in London until the introduction of the Party Wall etc. Act 1996, which covers the rest of England and Wales.

Developers and homeowners have a legal obligation to adhere to the provisions of the Act when building work affects a party wall or party structure. The Act covers three types of work:

  • Alterations/remedial works to a shared party wall or party fence wall
  • Construction of new boundary walls
  • Excavations in close proximity or adjoining nearby property

Where work falls within one of the above categories, the building owner (the legal term for the party undertaking works) must serve notice and obtain the adjoining owner’s consent. If consent is not given, the parties are deemed to be in dispute under the Act and must appoint party wall surveyors to resolve the dispute through a party wall agreement.

If this process is not followed, the adjoining owner may serve an injunction to stop the works which could result in additional costs, delays and claims from the contractor.

Advice Carter Jonas can provide around party wall issues

Our approach to party wall matters

Our experienced surveyors can advise on proposed developments and the implications of the Act at the planning or design stage, taking costs and time into account at the project outset. We consult with designers and engineers to advise of the likely consequences and the best way to apply the Act. For example, provisions within the Act facilitate access from adjoining land to undertake works which otherwise might not be obtained.

Our role when appointed by the building owner

We recommend that building owners should always appoint an experienced party wall surveyor to check whether their works fall under the scope of the Act and, if necessary, to draft the required notice(s) to ensure compliance. It is important to note that notices that fail to include all the required information or, are incorrectly served are invalid, resulting in the possibility of an injunction.

Our role covers the following:

  • Researching Land Registry, drafting and serving notices
  • Selecting a third surveyor to handle matters, in agreement with the adjoining owner’s surveyor, when the appointed surveyors cannot reach an agreement
  • Arranging access and inspecting adjoining owners’ properties to produce a Schedule of Condition of their property. This gives a benchmark to determine whether damage has been caused by the works, which prevents spurious claims on completion
  • Negotiating a Party Wall Award(s), subject to agreement with adjoining owner’s surveyors
  • Reviewing the fees of the adjoining owner’s surveyor
  • Issuing and serving Party Wall Awards to the building owner and adjoining owner(s)

Our role when appointed by the adjoining owner

When a notice has been served, the adjoining owner has the option to consent or dissent to it. If no response is made within 14 days, the owners are deemed to be in dispute under the Act and must each appoint a surveyor. In circumstances where a dispute arises, we can provide the following support:

  • Reviewing notices to check their validity
  • Reviewing drawings related to the scheme
  • Recommending a checking engineer, where necessary
  • Selecting a third surveyor in agreement with the building owner’s surveyor, when the appointed surveyors cannot reach agreement
  • Carrying out a joint inspection to provide a Schedule of Condition that accurately reflects the building’s condition
  • Negotiating the Party Wall Award with the building owner’s surveyor
  • Inspecting the adjoining owner’s property on completion of the works and checking the Schedule of Condition

What is a Party Wall Award?

A Party Wall Award is a legally binding document which is agreed between the two appointed surveyors or a joint surveyor. It specifies the works undertaken, the building owner’s responsibilities, the adjoining property’s Schedule of Condition and drawings relating to the works. The building owner typically meets all expenses.

Why choose Carter Jonas to provide you with party wall advice?

Our building consultancy professionals are located in Bristol, Birmingham, Cambridge, Oxford, Leeds and London. Our designated teams contain highly qualified and experienced chartered building surveyors who consistently provide a professional, effective, and personal service.fpws logo

In our experience, failure to comply with the Act can lead to project delays which, in most cases, results in additional costs. Our qualified building surveyors are members of the Faculty of Party Wall Surveyors and provide a high-quality service to architects, homeowners, neighbours, property developers and project managers. By appointing a qualified chartered surveyor, clients can be reassured that they will benefit from professional standards of conduct and an approach that is completely impartial and not commercially driven.



Get in touch
Keith is a Partner in the commercial team and is based out of our Cambridge office.

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