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5 Common Misconceptions about Party Wall Matters

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The Party Wall Act is an essential piece of legislation that permits neighbours to have a say in work done near their property, that may cause damage to their homes.

This year represents the 25th anniversary of the Party Wall Act of 1996, and its importance has not lessened in the following years.

The Party Wall Act applies to various work done directly to an existing Party Wall or Party Structure. It also contains the following:

  • New development near or on the property lines
  • Excavations within 3 or 6 metres of neighbouring buildings or structures, depending on the pit’s depth of the proposed foundation.
  • Work may fall into more than one of the following categories and may involve numerous types of buildings and structures.

However, residents in England and Wales must comply with this act before beginning any type of renovation or construction work. As a result, it is essential to be aware of the common Party Wall Act misconceptions if you want to avoid paying a hefty bill, due to not following the necessary processes.

Misconception #1

If my neighbour agrees to the proposal, I do not need to serve a Party Wall Notice.

Your neighbours may not complain about a construction/renovation project. However, they cannot agree with the idea until an opinion on the party wall has been served. Therefore, you must serve the notice without considering your neighbour’s decision. They have 14 days (from the date the notice was delivered) to confirm their approval in writing. The written consent assures that the rights of the surrounding owners are not jeopardized if any damage occurs or if they wish to hire a Party Wall Surveyor in the future.

Misconception #2

A neighbouring owner can prevent the neighbours from expanding on the boundary line.

The owner of a property is permitted to construct up to the property’s boundary line. The work may even extend beyond the project’s boundaries. It is essential to inform your neighbour of this factor before beginning the work. It’s vital to remember that if a neighbour wants to build an expansion in the future, they have the legal right to tear out a portion of their neighbour’s foundation. However, the next-door neighbour must serve a notice at that time. In this case, it is wise for the neighbours to agree and construct a wall/structure along the boundary of an adjoining property.

Misconception #3

The Party Wall Act does not apply since the extension does not go beyond my land.

This is another misunderstanding. Excavating within 3-6 metres of an adjoining structure/building is prohibited per Section-6 of the Party Wall Act. The depth of the excavation determines the distance from the adjacent structure. If an excavation has a shallow depth, it may be 3 metres away from a neighbour’s foundation. In the case of deep excavations, the minimum distance from the neighbouring foundation is 6 metres. As a result, even if you dig on your property, you must serve a Party Wall Notice to the adjoining owner because there is a potential risk to the neighbour’s foundation.

Misconception #4

Creating a Retrospective Award is the most efficient technique to deal with a neighbour who has begun a construction/renovation project without first serving notice.

In reality, serving a Retrospective Award to the owner of the adjoining property is meaningless if most of the construction work has been finished, as this award has no validity. In this case, employing a party wall surveyor who can assess the remedies for the damages to an adjoining property is the best course of action. If the neighbours cannot agree on a surveyor’s recommendation, the disagreement must be resolved in court.

Misconception #5

I am free to begin building because my neighbour did not respond to the Party Wall Notice.

Section 5 of the Party Wall Act etc. The Act states that an adjoining neighbour has 14 days to consent to the Party Wall notification. If a neighbour does not agree to the notification, it is regarded as a sign of opposition to the proposed project. In this case, your neighbour is responsible for appointing a party wall surveyor. You may, however, employ a surveyor if the owner of the adjacent property fails to appoint a surveyor despite receiving a reminder.

As you can see, there are a lot of misconceptions about Party Wall Agreements. These misunderstandings should be avoided to ensure a smooth process without any disputes between parties.

We at Prince Surveyors love to talk about Party Walls! So, get in touch with us today to arrange a meeting or learn more about Party Wall Agreements.

Contact us today to see how our panel of party wall surveyors can help you with your party wall act requirements or simply for some initial FREE expert advice from the team.  

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