The Party Wall Act
The Party Wall Act 1996 puts in place steps to safeguard the rights of those undertaking certain types of building work and the rights of their adjoining neighbours. The Party Wall Act works to protect the owner undertaking the works, through the party wall surveyors, by ensuring that the work is lawful, whilst also protecting their neighbour’s rights in the event of damage occurring.
Although the Party Wall Act in its present form is relatively recent, similar Acts have been in force within the London area for hundreds of years. The basis of the Party Wall Act continues to define and affirm the rights of a person (referred to as the ‘building owner’) wishing to cut into a party wall or to excavate for new foundations within three metres of an adjoining structure. The neighbour(s) that either share ownership of the party wall or are within three metres of the new excavations are referred to as the ‘adjoining owner(s)’. Both parties may appoint a party wall surveyor if the building work is subject to the Party Wall Act.
Party Wall Surveyors
The key effect of the Party Wall Act has been to extend these rights outside the London region and tackle some of the problems of the previous Party Wall Acts. Any building owner wishing to undertake works subject to the Party Wall Act must follow the correct procedure as laid down by the Party Wall Act. The process is not as complicated as it may seem at first and can have substantial practical benefits for both parties.