Party Wall FAQ
We understand that Party Wall matters can be confusing, therefore we have prepared a Party Wall FAQ page which confirms some of the common Party Wall phraseologies or terms used by Party Wall Surveyors and both building owners and adjoining owners.
Hopefully, these will help fill in the gaps and assist in your better understanding of the Party Wall Procedures.
Party Wall Notice
A Party Wall Notice is served by the building owner upon the adjoining owner in advance of the construction works commencing. The Notice notifies the adjoining owner of the building owner's proposed works and gives the adjoining owner the three Party Wall Response open to them.
Party Wall Consent
A Party Wall Consent is given by the adjoining owner in response to the building owner's Party Wall Notice. The Consent will waive the adjoining owner's rights and protections the Party Wall etc Act 1996 affords them and enables the building owner to progress the construction works with no further formalities being followed.
Party Wall Dissent
A Party Wall Dissent is given by the adjoining owner in response to the building owner's Party Wall Notice. The Dissent will mean that the adjoining owner appoints a Party Wall Surveyor to represent them and protect their interests before, during and after the building owner's construction works.
Party Wall Award
A Party Wall Award is the conclusion of the Party Wall process and importantly ensures the adjoining owner is legally protected against any issues or damage caused by the building owner's Party Wall works. The Award is also commonly referred to as a Party Wall Agreement.
Schedule of Condition
A Schedule of Condition Report involves one of our experienced and qualified Surveyors visiting an adjoining owner’s property prior to the building owner’s construction work commencing. The Report not only adds clarity to a potential damage claim, it also avoids a potential dispute between owners.
Building Owner's Surveyor
The building owner’s Party Wall Surveyor will act wholly on the behalf of the building owner. The building owner’s Surveyor will commonly serve the Party Wall Notices, undertake the Schedule of Condition Report, liaise with the adjoining owner’s Surveyor and prepare and serve the Party Wall Award.
Adjoining Owner's Surveyor
The adjoining owner’s Party Wall Surveyor will act wholly on the behalf of the adjoining owner. The adjoining owner’s Surveyor will commonly respond to the Party Wall Notices on behalf of the adjoining owner, attend the Schedule of Condition Report, liaise with the building owner’s Surveyor and review and agree the Party Wall Award.
An Agreed Party Wall Surveyor acts impartially upon behalf of both the building owner and the adjoining owner. The Party Wall Surveyor will undertake all of the same roles as the two Surveyors would, the only difference being that he or she acts impartially upon behalf of both owners.
The Third Surveyor
The Third Surveyor is selected by both the building owner’s Surveyor and the adjoining owner’s Surveyor at the very start of the process. The Third Surveyor’s role is commonly to resolve a dispute between the two respective owners' Surveyors.
Section 1 Notice
Section 1 of the Party Wall Act deals with the building owner's new walls that are built up to the boundary line, commonly referred to as the line of junction. Serving a Section 1 Notice, commonly referred to as a Line of Junction Notice enables the building owner to build the proposed wall or walls.
Section 2 Notice
Section 2 of the Party Wall Act deals with the building owner's works that are directly to the Party Wall or Party Structure (Ceiling or Floor). Serving a Section 2 Notice, commonly referred to as a Party Structure Notice enables the building owner to cut into, away from, raise or thicken the Party Wall.
Section 6 Notice
Section 6 of the Party Wall Act deals with the building owner's excavation works. Serving a Section 6 Notice, commonly referred to as a Notice of adjacent excavation enables the building owner to dig within 3m and to a depth lower than the adjoining owner's property.
Party Wall Costs
Party Wall Costs are determined by the Party Wall Surveyors. Commonly and in our experience in most circumstances, the building owner will be liable for the costs of agreeing the Party Wall Award. These costs will include the building owner's Surveyor's costs, the adjoining owner's Surveyor's costs or the agreed Surveyor's costs
The advising engineer’s role will review the building owner’s structural design, calculations and specifications from the perspective of the adjoining owner’s property and assess the structural risk that the works carry. The advising engineer is also commonly referred to as a checking engineer.
Party Wall Access/Hoarding
Party Wall Access is achieved via the agreement of the Party Wall Award. The Award will set out the terms, condition and timings of the agreed access and importantly will mean that the building owner's contractor is allowed access onto the adjoining owner's property, roof or land in order to construct.
Security for Expenses
This is a sum money know as the ‘security’, that is held on account in the event that the building owner commences the work and for whatever reason abandons it, doesn’t finish it, or stops it for a prolonged period of time. The sum of money is then used to safeguard the adjoining owner's property from potential structural damage or movement.
Party Wall Weathering
As part of the Party Wall Award agreement process the building owner has the right to expose the Party Wall during the course of their construction works. Once the Party Wall is exposed it will need weathering to ensure that moisture doesn’t transfer into the adjoining owner’s property and cause penetrating damp.
The Act defines special foundations as: ‘foundations in which an assemblage of beams or rods is employed for the purpose of distributing any load’. Special foundations are commonly used in basement work. Under the Act if the building owner intends to use special foundations they must obtain the express consent of the adjoining owner.
Party Wall Damage
Party Wall Damage occurs when the building owner's contractor causes damage to the adjoining owner's property. Under the Party Wall etc Act the adjoining owner can request for the building owner's contractor to to repair the damage, or they can request a payment in lieu which is a sum of money which will enable them to employ their own contractor to repair the damage.
Build Over Agreement
A Thames Water build over agreement is required for any excavation works within 3 metres of a public sewer or drain. Given the density of construction in London and other cities, this will likely mean that any work you intend to undertake to your property, that includes excavations, will likely require Thames Water’s review and consent.
Statutory Notice Period
This is the period of time for which the Party Wall Notice period runs. The Statutory Notice Period commences when the Party Wall Notice is served and will run until it is waived by the adjoining owner, or a response to the Party Wall Notice is received. The Notice period depends on the works being undertaken however can be 1 or 2 months.
Serving a Party Wall Notice means that the building owner, or their Surveyor notifies the adjoining owner of the proposed work. A Party Wall Notice can be served by hand, by post, fixing it to the adjoining owner's property or via email if the adjoining owner has agreed to email receipt.
10(4) Party Wall Notice
Once a Party Wall Notice has been served, if the adjoining owner hasn't responded a further 10(4) Notice can be served upon the adjoining owner. The 10(4) Notice gives the adjoining owner a further and final 10 days to respond, Upon expiry of the 10 day period the building owner is able to appoint a Surveyor on behalf of non responsive adjoining owner.
Party Wall Dispute
A dispute is a term written within the Party Wall etc Act 1996, it refers to an adjoining owner dissenting to a Party Wall Notice served by the building owner. Once there is a ‘dispute’ under the Act, a Party Wall Surveyor or Party Wall Surveyors will be appointed to mediate and resolve the dispute.
This is a drawing of the profile an depth of the building owner's proposed foundation design. Under the Party Wall etc Act 1996, this drawing is required to ensure valid serve of a Section 6 (Notice of Adjacent Excavation). The drawing will need to specifically confirm how deep the foundations will be.
An enclosure cost is a payment to be made from the building owner directly to the adjoining owner as per the requirements of Section 11(11) of the Party Wall etc Act 1996. The cost applies when a building owner makes use of a Party Wall that an adjoining owner has previously built.
A Trail Pit is a controlled dig alongside the adjoining owner's structure. The outcome of the pit will confirm the profile and depth of the adjoining owner's foundations and will ensure that building owner's design team can take these into account when designing the building owner's extension.
Using Hand Tools
The use of hand tools or non percussive tools on the Party Wall greatly reduces the vibration that the Party Wall is subjected to and as a result greatly reduces the likelihood of Party Wall damage such as cracking, bulging or crazing plaster.
An eccentric foundation is a foundation whereby the proposed flank wall of the building owner's structure sits on the outer edge of the foundation. The entirety of the foundation and the wall will therefore be wholly on the building owner’s land with no projections into the adjoining owner's land.
Sectional Hit and Miss Bays
Sequential ‘hit and miss’ bay foundations is the practice of excavating a foundation in bays as opposed to a single trench. The bays usually 1m in width, will be dug in a hit and miss method, meaning that at no point is more than 1m of the adjoining owner’s foundation exposed in more than 1 place.
Third Surveyor Referral
A Third Surveyor referral is made when the two Surveyors, the building owner's Surveyor and the adjoining owner's Surveyor cannot resolve a specific dispute or if one of the owners isn't in agreement with the view of their Party Wall Surveyor. Once the referral is made the Third Surveyor will then review and determine the matter.
Party Wall Award Appeal
A Party Wall Award Appeal is made by one of the owners when the Party Wall Award has been served. Under Section 10(7) of the Party Wall Act 1996, the owners have the right to appeal the Party Wall Award if they are not in agreement with its contents.
Type "A" Party Wall
A wall which forms part of a building and stands on lands of different owners to a greater extent than the projection of any artificially formed support on which the wall rests. Generally speaking these are walls separating houses (terraced or semi detached houses) they would have originally been built to be in shared ownership.
Type "B" Party Wall
A wall that separates respective buildings belonging to different owners, essentially these are walls that may not originally have been built as a Party Wall, however through one owner enclosing upon the wall they have become Party Walls.
Party Wall Injunction
A Party Wall Injunction is obtained from the Court by the adjoining owner when a building owner commences notifiable construction work to their property without having served a Party Wall Notice upon the adjoining owner. An injunction is court order stopping a building owner from continuing the Party Wall work.
Any “owner” whom the building owner's Party Wall works have an effect upon. Under the Party Wall etc Act 1996, anyone with an interest of greater than a year in the property is deemed to be “an owner” under the Party Wall etc Act 1996. This means that both leaseholder and freeholders are owners.
Overhand construction is achieved when the contractor opts to not gain access onto the adjoining owner's land to construct the wall. Instead the wall will be built by the contractor standing on the building owner's property and leaning into the adjoining owner's air space to complete and finish the wall.
Any “owner” who is intending to undertake construction works to their property that are notifiable under the Party Wall etc Act 1996. As per the wording of the Act, the building owner will need to serve a Party Wall Notice upon the adjoining owner a minimum of 1 month before they intend to commence their proposed work.
A concentric foundation is a foundation that is symmetrical, whereby the wall will rest at the centre of the foundation with an equal amount of concrete sitting either side of that wall. Concentric foundations tend to be used when the building owner is building a Party Wall, or the wall that is being constructed is set back from the boundary line.
These are drawn up by the building owner's engineer and will design and calculate the structural load that is being applied to the Party Wall or wider structure. The calculations confirm that a qualified and experienced engineer has designed the structural design taking account the construction of the Party Wall and the load it can carry.
Cantilevered Scaffolding is achieved when a scaffolding platform projects over an adjoining owner's roof, land, airspace or garden. The aim of the structure is to ensure that the building owner is still able to complete their proposed construction works with the minimal risk and inconvenience to the adjoining owner.
Piled Foundations are a form of foundation that are used when the ground being excavated is insufficient for the use of mass concrete foundations, usually when the ground has a high water table. Piled foundations can be driven, drilled or injected into the ground and can go as far as 30m deep.
Movement monitoring is the process of monitoring a structure either before, during or after construction, or a combination of the three. The process of monitoring ensures that vibration, structural movement or ground movement is caught at an early date and thereby hopefully addressed before significant damage occurs.
Conspicuous Party Wall Notice
A Conspicuous Party Wall Notice its required when the building owner is unsure of who the adjoining owner. In order to serve a valid Party Wall Notice upon them, they will need to fix/stick/tie the Party Wall Notice to a conspicuous part of the adjoining owner's property such as a window, gate or door.
Structural Drawings illustrate the building owner's proposed work in far greater depth that planning drawings or architectural drawings will. Importantly they will confirm the location and type of structural fixing to the Party Wall and will therefore enable the Party Wall Surveyors to fully consider the proposed works.
Covering Chimney Breasts
Party Wall work can lead to significant vibration to the Party Wall. Covering an adjoining owner's chimney breasts or open vents is a form of Party Wall Protection and ensures that any loose dirt, debris, dust or even bricks do not penetrate their property leading to costly cleaning or repair.
Foundation Slip Membranes
A slip membrane is inserted against a building owner's foundation at the junction where it meets an adjoining owner's foundation. The membrane which is usually a thick polystyrene board will ensure that the two respective foundations remain independent of one and other.
Method Statements are required for highly complex works, or works that require close attention and thought. The statement will confirm the manner and method in which the contractor will complete the task at hand. We commonly see method statements being prepared for underpinning work.
Soil Investigation Report
A Soil Investigation Report confirms the geotechnical and environmental setting of the site, thereby allowing the foundation design to property designed. The investigation will usually involve probes or rods inserted into the ground, or controlled boreholes dug to determine the soil conditions.
Telescopic Air Vent
The installation of a telescopic air vent allows the building owner to preserve the adjoining owner’s easement to air and enables the building owner to construct their proposed extension without a design change or interruption to their proposals.
Section 8 Notice
A Section 8 Notice is served by the building owner upon the adjoining owner in advance of commencing the Party Wall Works. Section 8 gives the building owner the legal right of access on the adjoining owner's land, subject to any constraints that the respective owners or Party Wall Surveyors agree.
A "flashing detail" as it is commonly referred to, is a weatherproofing detail at roof level. The material is commonly code 4 (4mm) lead and seals the junction of the two properties, usually the building owner's property and the adjoining owner's property.
Underpinning is used when the Party Wall is of insufficient strength, or is required in order to facilitate a lower ground floor or basement conversion. Underpinning will commonly be done in 'sectional bays' which you can read about on this FAQ page!
Line of Junction
Also know as a boundary line, this is the separation between two properties. Under the Party Wall etc Act '96, Party Wall Surveyors are not able to determine a boundary line or resolve its position. Boundary Lines or Boundary disputes will need to be determined under a separate appointment.
When a Party Wall Surveyor proceeds "ex parte" he will be acting in place of a non responsive Party Wall Surveyor. Acting ex parte gives the Surveyor the right to act in a time effective manner without causing unnecessary delay to the building owner's proposed construction works.
Kaye v Lawrence
This is the presiding Case Law on Security for Expenses. The outcome of this case confirmed that an adjoining owner has the legal right to request Security for Expenses for any works that fall within the remit of the Party Wall etc Act 1996.
Chaturachinda v Fairholme
This is the presiding Case Law on Special Foundations. The outcome of this case confirmed that when the building owner's foundation detail is correctly designed, they will not necessarily need the written consent of the adjoining owner.
Onigbanjo v Pearson
This is the presiding Case Law on an adjoining owner dissenting to a Party Wall Notice after they have previously consented. The outcome of this case confirmed that the adjoining owner does indeed have this right and can exercise it in the event of any issue.
Contractor Making Good
Under the Party Wall etc Act 1996, when Party Wall damage occurs to an adjoining owner's property, the adjoining owner can opt for the contractor to make good. This means the contractor will visit the adjoining owner's property and repair any damage that has been caused at the building owner's expense.
Payment in Lieu
Under the Party Wall etc Act 1996, when Party Wall damage occurs to an adjoining owner's property, the adjoining owner also has the right to request a payment in lieu. This is the 'cash' alternative to contractor making good and means that the adjoining owner can then use the funds to instruct their own contractor to make good the damage.
Gallows Brackets are used to support removed Chimney Breasts. They are installed direct beneath the remaining Chimney Stack or Breast at the time of removal and ensure adequate structural support is in place.
CCTV Drain Survey
A CCTV Drain Survey is undertaken in advance of the building owner's Party Wall works commencing and ensures that the condition of the drains are fully recorded at the pre construction stage. The Survey involves a camera rod being inserted into the drains via the manhole cover and will identify any defects.
Time and Manner
The Party Wall etc Act '96 gives the Agreed Surveyor, or Surveyors the right to agree the "Time and Manner" of the works. This means that the working hours of the Party Wall element of the construction works may differ to the overall working hours set by the local authority.