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What is a Party Wall Agreement?

Posted by NK Lofts Team on 31/01/2013

We’ve all experienced the irritation of neighbours drilling into walls to put up shelves or chipping away at old wallpaper during redecoration. As annoying as this may be, it doesn’t contravene any laws (besides noise pollution if it’s late at night). Despite sharing the wall with you they are entitled to carry this type of work out without request, as are you.

However, for majorly destructive work, an agreement must be drawn up between both owners of an adjoining wall. This document is known as a party wall agreement, and it’s imperative that one is in place before any construction or demolition work begins.

The agreement, enforced by the Party Wall Act 1996, can apply to any adjoining wall between two properties (living rooms, hallways, lofts etc), as well as any wall that separates two premises in any way, such as a garden wall that forms a boundary. These partitions are usually jointly owned by both parties, meaning that the consent of both must be in place before any structural alterations are made.

Not all work necessitates a party wall agreement, so it’s important to know your limitations before embarking on work. For example, simple painting and decorating of the side of the wall you own doesn’t require permission from your neighbour. Similarly, putting up shelves or basic rewiring of electrics can be carried out without notice (although an informal request might be courteous if you plan any extensive drilling and hammering).

The agreement becomes obligatory, however, when any proposed work takes on a destructive nature. If you plan to increase the height or thickness of a wall, insert damp proofing or cut into it in order to insert a load-bearing beam during a attic conversion, drawing up a formal notice is a legal requirement.

The first step in this process is to make the owner of the adjoining wall aware of your intentions. In most cases, they will not mind and may even contribute to the cost if the work benefits them, such as thickening a supporting wall. It is then wise for both parties to get advice from either the Building Control Office or a professional surveyor or architect regarding the impact that the work will have. Opinions may differ and a compromise will have to be decided upon, as the Party Wall Act 1996 gives rights and responsibilities to owners both sides of a dividing wall, so it’s important that surveys are carried out in advance of any formal notice being drawn up.

The party wall agreement itself must contain the name of the property owners where work is taking place and the address of the property, names of the owners of the adjoining property, a description of proposed work, the projected start date, reference to the fact that notice is being served under the Party Wall Act 1996 and the date of the agreement. The notice may also include a number of stipulations as negotiated by both sides, including allowed working hours, access privileges, a time limit on the work or a compromise on surveyor’s fees. Once drawn up, your neighbours must respond within 14 days, else the notice goes into dispute, meaning that no work can take place until resolved in writing.

Here at NK Lofts, our expert team are on hand to advise you about party wall agreements and whether your proposed conversion requires one, all as part of our complete loft conversion service. We are available to design first rate conversions from start to finish, taking all planning regulations into consideration and making the whole process as stress free as possible for you.

We even offer free site surveys and quotations, so make your dream loft a reality and get in touch with the professionals at NK Lofts today.