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Serving A Party Wall Act 1996 Notice Cornwall UK
  • Sep 13, 2022
  • Latest News

Do not allow the Party Wall Act 1996 to be an afterthought if you are planning to carry out building works to a shared party wall, during any home improvements or property development – if you do, it could prove to be a very costly mistake.

In laymen terms, serving a party wall notice is the formal and legal way of informing your neighbour(s) or adjoining land or property owners that you intend to carry out building works to a shared boundary, land or property dividing wall or structure.

Party Wall Act 1996 explained
How does the Party Wall Act 1996 define a Party Fence Wall?

Legally, a ‘party fence wall’ is defined as a wall (not part of a building) erected on land of different owners and is used for demarking the boundary separating adjoining land.

A ‘party structure’ is defined as a wall or floor separating buildings or parts of buildings with separate staircases or separate entrances such as apartments/flats.

When does the party wall act apply?
Any person who lives in a terraced property, a semi-detached property, a town house, a block of flats or an apartment, then the Party Wall Act 1996 will most definitely apply to you or your proposed building works which will impact any adjoining or shared structures.

Likewise, if you share a land boundary with any of your neighbour(s), such as garden walls, even if you live in a detached property, the Party Wall Act 1996 may well still apply to you. To fully understand whether it does or not, consult us here at Desmonde Associates Ltd to help you determine whether you need to serve your neighbour(s) a Party Wall Notice, prior to carrying out work on or near to any shared boundaries.

What should a Party Wall Notice include?
The devil is always in the detail; the more information you provide may increase the chance your neighbour(s) may agree to any of the works you wish to carry out, and less of a chance they may dispute.

You should include as a minimum the following:
· The names and address of those doing the work, including all owners of the property being worked on
· The signatures of the building owners or an authorised representative
· The date the notice was served or the date it was posted
· The date any planned work is due to begin
·  A description of all intended works (ensure you attach detailed drawings if you are serving a section 6 notice)

Who and where should I serve a Party Wall Notice?
The Party Wall Act 1996 says that notice needs to be served to adjoining neighbour(s) or property owners where the proposed works will affect a shared ‘party structure’. You may be required to serve notice to both the Leaseholder and the Freeholder of any adjoining property(s).

Does Party Wall Act apply to garden fences?
There is no mention of a garden fence within the Party Wall Act. Garden fences made of timber or concrete posts and timber panels do not fall under the Party Wall Act 1996.

It is advisable that you check your title deeds, as they may contain further information regarding any shared garden fences. However, your title deeds may state that the fence to your land/property is a 'party fence' – although this has a different meaning and is nothing to do with the Party Wall Act.

Can I issue a Party Wall Notice myself?
Yes. However, you will still need to ensure your notice includes all the relevant information contained within the Party Wall Act 1996. Sometimes it is better to instruct a professional to act on your behalf. Please get in touch with one of the team at Desmonde Associates and we can serve notice on your behalf.

What are the Party Wall Act Notice Periods?
The Party Wall Act stipulates fixed notice periods depending upon the proposed works; one month for adjacent excavation or new walls built at the boundary and two months for work that directly affects a party structure.

Most adjoining owners will usually consent to works being carried out sooner. However, in some circumstances, adjoining owners may want to delay your works for specific reasons, such as someone studying for an upcoming exam or using their land for a planned wedding or event.

Party Wall Act 1996 Counter Notice
Having been issued with a Notice a neighbouring owner may issue a counter notice within a 1-month period. If you do not agree, a dispute shall be deemed to have arisen between the parties. Under the Party Wall Act an independent surveyor appointed by both parties will act to settle the dispute through of a Party Wall Award (decision).

What are the different types of Party Wall Notices?
The three types of party wall notices include:
·  Section 1 Notice – Any new building works carried out on or to a shared boundary (minimum one month’s notice)
·   Section 3 Notice – Where structural work needs to be done on existing party walls or garden walls (minimum two months’ notice)
· Section 6 Notice – where work needs to be done that involves excavation within three metres of a neighbour(s) property and/or that runs deeper than their foundations (minimum one month’s notice)

Only a Section 6 notice must be accompanied by drawings, so unless the proposed work includes excavation that is notifiable under the Party Wall Act, notice could be served as soon as the decision is made to build.

Party Wall Act for loft conversion UK
For a typical loft conversion, in most cases it will be necessary to cut into party walls to install beams to support the new floor and take the weight of any dormer installed. Notices must include the nature and particulars of the proposed works. However, you do not have to include detailed drawings, so it would be possible to draft a party structure notice on the day that you decide to proceed with the works using the following description:

Cut pockets in the party wall to allow for the insertion of beams for the purposes of converting the roof space into accommodation.

The start date for any works would need to be stated as ‘two (2) months after the date of this notice’. However, you can insert an earlier date if agreed – again, this would need to be in writing and signed.

When do I need to serve a Party Wall Notice?
It is highly advisable to serve written notice as soon as possible in case any disputes arise. Even if your neighbour provides you with a verbal agreement, it is still a requirement to receive agreement in writing prior to any work commencing.

Should I sign and agree to a Party Wall Notice?
Under Section 5, if you do not consent to the works within 14 days of receiving the Notice you are deemed to have dissented, and a dispute is deemed to have arisen between parties.

Party Wall Act 1996 dispute.
Where a dispute has arisen or is deemed to have arisen between a building owner and an adjoining owner, parties can jointly agree to appoint a single surveyor, or each party shall appoint a surveyor of their own choosing and the two surveyors appointed shall select a third surveyor to make an award.

The term ‘surveyor’ under the Party Wall Act 1996 can include any person who is not a party to the disputed matter. This means that you can appoint almost anyone you like to act in this capacity. However, the person should not have already been engaged to supervise the building work. The surveyor should also have a good knowledge of construction and of legal procedures under the Party Wall Act.

Re-roofing Party Wall Act
A change of roof covering does not fall within the scope of the Party Wall Act 1996, so no agreement/notice is required. However, it is still advisable to inform your neighbour of any upcoming works as courtesy. Also, any roof repairs or replacements may require Building Regulation consent, and it is a good idea to check with Building Control at your local planning office. Especially if it’s a listed building – any unauthorised works to a listed building or structure is a criminal offence.

Can a Party Wall Act Notice or award be applied retrospectively?
The Party Wall Act makes no reference to retrospective notices or awards. If works have already been carried out and neighbours cannot agree, it will be left for the courts to decide.

What is a Party Wall Act Award?
A ‘Party Wall Act Award’ refers to the decision made by an appointed surveyor regarding a dispute that has arisen after a Party Wall Notice has been served.

The surveyor will settle the matter by making an ‘award’ (aka ‘party wall award’). The award can include the following:
·  A condition report of the adjoining property or land detailing its condition in case any damage is caused
· Agreement allowing surveyor access so that work can be inspected periodically throughout the project, to ensure all work complies with the award
· Set out restrictions regarding when particularly disruptive works can be carried out and at what times

It is important that you keep a copy of the ‘party wall award’ with any of the property deeds, for the purpose of future sale of the property or land.

Party Wall Act and Scaffolding
If scaffolding is being used within your property or land’s boundaries, erecting scaffolding is not notifiable under the Party Wall Act. However, if the scaffolding is being used to facilitate works which are notifiable under the act, you must add this

Your neighbour or their surveyor may request you make reasonable efforts to ensure no building material or debris falls onto their property or land.

Another often overlooked consideration is your neighbour’s satellite signal, which may be lost and prevent them from watching their favourite TV channel, due to the position of any proposed scaffolding. You may be required to factor this in when erecting any structure to your land or property.

A party wall award may mean you have to pay for their satellite dish to be repositioned during the works and repositioned to its original place after the scaffolding has been taken down.

Does Party Wall Act apply to demolition?
Yes, for works including the removal of a shared chimney breast or replacement of a party wall will need to be notified under the Party Wall Act 1996.

Please be advised, the above does not constitute legal advice and you should always seek relevant legal or professional advice before carrying out any building works to your land or property.

If you would like us to act on your behalf regarding serving a Party Wall Notice or receiving a Party Wall Notice, then please get in touch with one of the team here at Desmonde Associates. We can also help you with any structural design, planning application/permission or any surveys required.

Please call: 01872 554227 or email: