Party Wall Agreements Explained: When & Why Do I Need One?

If you’re planning on carrying out building work on or near a party wall then you’ll need to have a Party Wall Notice and a Party Wall Agreement in place beforehand. Even homes that have been extended under the Permitted Development rights will, potentially, still need a Party Wall Agreement. But when should you get a Party Wall Agreement drawn up and why do you need one before starting your project?

When do I need a Party Wall Agreement?

The first thing you will need to do before starting any building work on or near a party wall is to serve the adjoining homeowner(s) with a Party Wall Notice and a Party Wall Agreement. This all needs to be done between one year and two months prior to the work being carried out and the aforementioned documents will expire twelve months after the adjoining neighbour(s) have been given them. After that time, you’ll need to draw up a fresh Party Wall Agreement and a new Party Wall Notice.

If the adjoining property is leasehold or rented, then you’ll need to give a Party Wall Agreement and a Party Wall Notice to the landlord or freeholder and also to the tenants residing in the property.

It’s always recommended that you speak to your neighbour(s) prior to serving them with formal documentation in order to iron out any misunderstandings or disputes before it goes down the civil court route.

When do I have to serve a Party Wall Notice?

You’ll need to serve a Party Wall notice no later than two months before work is due to be carried out and it’s only valid for twelve months thereafter. Once the affected neighbour(s) have been notified of the works, they have up to 14 days to respond. They’ll either consent to the work, ask for additional information about the project or request modifications to the prospective work or they’ll simply reject it.

If you do not hear from them within 14 days of giving them the notice, then a dispute will automatically ensue and a Party Wall Award will be needed. A Party Wall Award is produced by two party wall surveyors in a bid to reach a fair and reasonable resolution between all affected neighbour(s). If an agreement cannot be reached, a third party wall surveyor will be needed in order to come to a swift conclusion that takes into account the best interests of both parties.

Sometimes, a dispute may involve more than two people. If you own a mid-terraced house, for example, and both adjoining neighbours refuse the works then three party wall surveyors will be needed and a fourth will become involved if a resolution cannot be reached.

Do I need a Party Wall Agreement?

A Party Wall Agreement will be needed to stop you incurring additional costs should any damage be done to adjoining properties, even if it wasn;t your fault. The adjoining neighbour could serve you an injunction and building works will be halted. In some cases, you’ll be liable for fixing any damages that arose as a result of work carried out on party walls or structures, even if it wasn’t you who directly caused the damage.

By not serving a Party Wall Agreement, you could be facing having to pay hundreds, possibly even thousands, of pounds to repair damages to the adjoining property or properties as civil courts do not look kindly on those who do not present Party Wall Agreements to their adjoining neighbour(s) or to those who do not serve the correct notice.

If you want your project to run as smoothly as possible with as few delays as possible, then you should definitely serve your neighbours with a Party Wall Agreement. Therefore, you do need a Party Wall Agreement if you’re planning on carrying out the following building works:

  • Repairs to party walls or structures
  • Raising works
  • Demolishing a party wall
  • Rebuilding a party wall
  • Excavation works, including underpinning, to or near to the party wall (within 3-6m)
  • Loft conversions
  • Cellar or basement conversions
  • Garage conversions
  • Making party walls taller or thicker
  • Building a new wall up to or off a party wall
  • Inserting damp proof course
  • Building a second-storey extension above a party wall

You do not need a Party Wall Agreement or a Party Wall Notice if you’re carrying out the following projects:

  • Replastering a party wall
  • Removing old plaster from a party wall
  • Drilling or fixing screws to a party wall
  • Hanging something from a party wall using nails etc
  • Cutting in or channeling out a party wall for new electrical wiring or for replacing old electrical wiring

If you aren’t sure about whether or not you need a Party Wall Agreement and a Party Wall Notice, then you should consult a highly-trained, professional party wall surveyor.