Party Walls - What you Need to Know
We have all heard or had experience with those neighbours that add havoc and frustration to homeowners – “the dog is too loud”, “the crying baby keeps me up at night”, “your tree is over my side”. When you have neighbours, issues can arise, but if you are respectful of each other, it should be peaceful and easy to accommodate one and another.
Photo: Archplan Architects
Even if you get on superbly well with your neighbours, issues can arise when one of you thinks about doing construction work on your property. Due to the financial climate, more people are extending and making their property more family liveable by knocking down walls, converting their lofts or adding a basement. With these extensions, can come neighbour tension.
Party walls are where, in terraced houses or semi-detached houses, your wall is adjoined to the next house. If this wall adjoins the two properties with no gap in between then that is a party wall. If thinking about carrying out work on your property that will affect your neighbour then a party wall agreement has to be put in place.
Party wall notices need to be given whenever building a new wall that will affect your neighbour: cutting into a party wall, making a party wall taller, shorter, deeper, removing chimneys on the party wall, or knocking down and rebuilding a part of the party wall. Other examples include doing a rear side extension to your property’s boundary or converting the loft, or working on a boundary that already exists, underpinning, cutting and repairing. Both examples will touch you and your neighbours party wall and therefore your neighbour must know about the work that you are having done. The Party Wall agreement will let your neighbours know about the work you are proposing to have done and let them know that it may affect them. Dust, dirt and noise can all occur if you are having work done on your property.
A verbal agreement is not enough. A written notice must be prepared and offered to your neighbours at least two months before plans have started. Your neighbours have two weeks to agree or disagree.
In some cases, the party wall notice is disagreed by neighbours, but do not worry, this can be negotiated. If issues are arising and your project is coming to a halt, an agreement can be written up by a party wall surveyor. The surveyor will listen to both sides and draft a resolution in a fair and practical way. This does cost money and takes time but in some cases it is the only solution, and it is good to know that not all hope is given up on your property dreams.
There are also such things as party fences (garden walls that are on the boundary) and party structures (flats where your floor and ceilings adjoin two neighbours.
Party wall agreements can be frustrating but are very important. Living adjoined to another home is an agreement between two parties and hopefully it is a smooth relationship. nu:projects will help you with your party wall issues if anything arises before and throughout the project – we all want a plain sailing journey.