Party Walls: your questions answered

At YDBC, we want to make a positive difference to your project. One way we do this is by anticipating any questions you may have and trying our best to answer them. We regularly receive queries relating to party walls and the boundaries between buildings, so we’ve put together some information on the subject.

The Party Wall Act 1996 covers work that takes place on party walls, along or astride the boundary lines between different properties and excavations that take place close to a neighbouring building. The Act outlines the rights of both the owner of the property where work is taking place and the adjoining owner.

Under the Party Wall Act, you are required to give notice to your neighbour before work begins. Different types of work affect whether a notice is required or not and how far in advance the notice must be given. The notice must be provided in writing, however, if possible, it’s a good idea to discuss your plans in person with your neighbours beforehand as well.

Notice is required two months in advance when work is taking place directly to an existing party wall, especially if the work may affect the integrity of the wall or its structural capacity. However, some work, such as putting up shelves or applying plaster, is considered too minor to require notice.

When work takes place along a boundary, a fence is being constructed or a new party wall is being erected, notice will be required but in this case it is only a month, rather than two months. Meanwhile, if you are excavating within three metres of a neighbouring structure or within six metres within 45 degrees of the neighbouring foundation then a notice of one month should be served.

It is important to note that if you fail to give notice before work begins, your neighbour can seek to stop the work through a court injunction or other legal redress. You must also not start work before the notice period ends unless your neighbour has specifically agreed otherwise.

For further information on your rights and responsibilities under the Party Wall Act 1996, we recommend reading the government’s guidance. This document includes lots of helpful information, including useful diagrams and notice letter templates.

Please note: this article is guidance only and does not constitute official advice. Please contact your local authority’s planning department if you need advice that is specific to your project. Before you start a project it is important to check if you need planning permission and building regulations approval. Reaching an agreement with your neighbour does not negate the need to seek the appropriate permissions and gaining planning permission or building regulations approval does not exempt you from giving appropriate notice.