Understanding Party Walls

Understanding Party Walls
Understanding Party Walls

Party walls are walls that divide properties and they can be either structural walls or garden walls. However, before you do any building or renovations that involve a party wall, you’ll need to consider who will be affected.

It’s the law to serve anyone who is affected by the party wall. They should receive a Party Wall Notice and you will need a Party Wall Agreement which must be in writing. This must all be done before any work is done.

What Constitutes a Party Wall?

A party wall is one that is shared. This may be found in semi-detached houses, where a sidewall may be shared between two neighbours. Flats tend to have multiple party walls, as they will share the walls on the side, as well as above and below.

This type of wall includes both parts of buildings and garden walls, but does not include wooden fences.

If you have planned work that will change or modify the party wall, you have to let the people who will be affected know. There are multiple kinds of work that require you to notify your neighbours. Things like painting or drywalling your side of the wall will usually not require notification, but you will need to get their agreement for:

  • Adding to the thickness of a wall.
  • Adding to the height of a wall.
  • Cutting into the wall for the purposes of adding insulation or a load-bearing beam.
  • Excavations, in some cases.
  • Removing and replacing part of a party wall.
  • Adding a damp course proof to the party wall.

Not all neighbours are the people who need to be notified of the changes. While you need to notify people living next to a part wall you intend to modify, there may be others involved. For example, if they’re renting, you will also need to notify the landlord. If the adjoining property is being sold, the future owner will also need to be notified.

What If My Neighbours Disagree with the Work?

It’s not always as simple as serving the notice and beginning the work. You need to have your neighbours’ agreement and this is not always given.

If you have neighbours who are not in agreement with the Party Wall Notice, you need a Party Wall Award. This is done by a surveyor who will document the condition of the wall.

In most cases, you’ll need to give two months’ notice from the proposed beginning of the works and the notice expires in a year. Once the neighbours have received their paper notice, they have a fortnight to give their written agreement. Without it, you’ll end up in a dispute.

Do you need help sorting out some issues caused by party walls? Contact Summit Architecture to learn more about how we can help you.