What is a Party wall?

A wall is a "party wall" if it stands astride the boundary of land belonging to two (or more) 
different own.

What is a Party fence wall?

A wall is a "party fence wall" if it is not part of a building, and stands astride the boundary line between lands of different owners and is used to separate those lands (for example a masonry garden wall). This does not include such things as wooden fences or hedges.

What is a Party Structure?

A wall is also a "party wall" if it stands wholly on one owner's land, but is used by two (or more) owners to separate their buildings.
Only the part of the wall that does the separating is "party" - sections on either side or above are not "party".

Party Structure could be a wall or a floor partition or other structure separating buildings or parts of buildings.

Other Cases:

I am building an extension on my own land and I do not share a party wall with my neighbour. do I still need to serve a party wall notice?

The Party Wall Act does not only deal with shared party walls. Any excavation (required for most types of new foundations) within three metres of any structure on an adjoining property may require you to notify your neighbours under the Party Wall Act. If your excavation will be to a lower level than your neighbour's existing foundations, which is usually the case with older properties, then a party wall notice will be required.

What is a Party Wall Agreement?
Works that effect a wall, fence or any part of your neighbour's structure, within certain specified distances will require notification to adjoining owners in accordance with the party wall act 1996. This notification calls ''Party Wall Agreement". This notification can be a complicated procedure and can take a good deal of time and Architect in London are well placed to advise and help you.

How Long in advance do I serve the notice?

At least two months before the planned starting date for work to the party wall. The notice is only valid for a year, so do not serve it too long before you wish to start.

What happen after I serve the notice?

A person who receives the notice about intended work may give his consent in writing or refuse it to the works proposed. 
If after a period of 14 days from the service of your notice, the person receibing the notice has done nothing, a dispute is deemed to have arisen.

The best way of settling any point of difference is by friendly discussion with your neighbour. Agreements should always be put in writing.
If you cannot reach agreement with the Adjoining Owners, the next best thing is to agree with them on appointing what the Act calls an "Agreed Surveyor" to draw up an "Award". The surveyor must be a person agreed between the owners to act.

In all the cases, Your notice should not come as a surprise. If you have already ironed out possible snags with your neighbours, this should mean that they will more readily give consent in response to your notice.

Who can I appoint as a surveyor in the event of a dispute?

''Surveyor"  can be any person who is not a party to the matter. This means that you can appoint almost anyone you like to act in this capacity.

However,  The surveyor should also have a good knowledge of construction and of procedures under the Act. You cannot however act for yourself. You may wish to look for a qualified building professional with some experience or knowledge of party wall matters. Once a surveyor is appointed, he cannot be dismissed. This prevents an Owner waiting until awards are about to be signed and then sacking his surveyor.
If he dies or becomes too ill to continue, another surveyor has to be appointed in his place.

What does the surveyor do?

The surveyor (or surveyors) will prepare an "award" (also known as a "Party Wall Award").

This is a document which:

  •  sets out the work that will be carried out.
  • says when and how the work is to be carried out.  For example, not at weekends if the buildings are domestic properties.
  • records the condition of next door before the work begins (so that any damage can be properly attributed and made good).
  • allows access for the surveyors to inspect the works while they are going on (to see that they are in accordance with the award). It is a good idea to keep a copy of the award with your property deeds.

How much will a party wall award cost? 

The cost of a party wall award will vary depending upon the type of work being proposed and the nature of the properties. Most party wall surveyors charge on an hourly basis rather than giving a flat rate: If you intend to carry out any of the building works mentioned, you must inform all adjoining owners. You must not even cut into your own half of the wall without telling the next door neighbour of your intentions.

A. Part of one building

B. Separates two or more buildings