Party Walls are defined as a wall which forms part of a building and stands on lands of different owners i.e usually the common wall separating two buildings. In principal, if you own a building and you want to do works to the party wall, or build close to it, you are entitled to do certain things (like build up or build into the party wall, or build foundations within a certain distance/depth), but you are required by law to serve notice on the adjoining owner and follow strict procedures. They then have the right to appoint their own surveyor.
Works that fall within the scope of the Act
- Cutting into a wall for bearing of a beam, for example for a loft conversion or through lounge.
- Inserting a damp-proof course deep into a wall.
- Raising the party wall or where necessary cutting off any parts preventing this from happening.
- Demolishing and rebuilding the party wall.
- Underpinning the whole or part of a wall.
- Cutting a flashing into an adjoining building.
- Building a new wall on the line of junction between two properties.
- Foundations excavated within three metres of an adjoining structure and lower than its foundations.
- Excavating foundations within six metres of an adjoining structure and below a 45° line drawn from the bottom of the foundations.
The most time consuming task that the Party Wall Surveyor performs, prior to the work commencing, is the preparation of a schedule of condition of the adjoining property. It is essential that this is done accurately so that any damages can be properly attributed. If there are two surveyors this is prepared by the building owner’s surveyor and proofed by the adjoining owner’s surveyor.