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Property Surveying Blog

Written by Aman Singh

In my first blog post, I will be discussing the Party Wall etc Act 1996 and discuss when the Act may apply to you.

Don’t worry, I wont just bore you with tons of information without any images! Sit back and relax while you learn more about the Party Wall Act 1996.

Firstly, let’s try and understand what the Party Wall etc Act 1996 is and how it actually came about.

The origins of the Act can actually be traced back to the 1600’s and 1700’s, when the Great Fire of London forced the lawmakers to re-think party walls in order to restrict fire spreading to adjacent buildings.

Since then, although the Party Wall legislation was not solely confined to London and local acts in different parts of the country were present, the Party Wall etc Act 1996 which came into force in 1997 extended itself to England and Wales, superseding all the local Acts.

Now what exactly is the Party Wall etc Act 1996?

The Party Wall etc Act 1996, gives you certain rights and obligations to adhere to whichever side of the wall you are on i.e whether you’re an owner looking to commence some building work (in this case you would be a building owner) or your neighbour is (in this case you would be an adjoining owner).

When will it apply to me?

Different Sections of the Act tend to apply depending on the type of work you as a building owner are looking to undertake, however it is important to consider that only certain types of work specified within the Act are notifiable, meaning that are covered by the Act.

For example, if you are considering building a rear extension then in almost all cases your contractors will dig up soil to lay foundations, these would be deemed as excavations under the Act, which would be notifiable under Section 6 (1).

I have included an image below to demonstrate these types of work.

(An illustration of deep excavations)

In this example, we mentioned that excavating to lay the foundations for the proposed structure would be notifiable under the Act, but who to exactly?

The Party Wall etc Act 1996 stipulates that, if the excavations are being dug within 3 metres of the adjoining owner’s property and crucially below their foundation then the works will be notifiable and the Party Wall procedures will need to be followed.

What else is notifiable? 

Another very common type of work which is notifiable under the Party Wall etc Act 1996, is if you are building a wall up to, or astride the boundary line. Within the realm of the Party Wall etc Act 1996, this line is referred to as the “line of junction”. These types of work, commonly for flank walls of rear or side extensions are notifiable under Section 1(5) of the Act.

Berry Lodge Surveyors

(An illustration of a rear extension where Section 1(5) commonly applies)

By now you’re probably scratching your head wondering whether your proposed works are notifiable, right? If that is the case, feel free to give me a call and speak to one of our Surveyors who would be more than happy to assist you.