Party Wall

If you are planning to undertake works to or near a shared party wall or are concerned about your neighbour's proposed works, then the Party Wall Act 1996 is relevant. Complying with the Act is essential to avoid disputes and delays that could result in additional costs.

Party Wall

If you're looking to do construction work on or near a shared wall or if you're worried about your neighbour’s planned projects the Party Wall Act of 1996 is something you should consider. Following regulations help prevent disagreements and delays.

Our team can connect you with a party wall surveyor who offers solutions at a fair price. These experienced surveyors can represent the building owner and the adjoining owner, acting as Agreed Surveyor for both parties.

Making improvements or changes to your property can enhance its value and appearance. You should be mindful of damage to neighbouring properties that may lead to legal issues and so your party wall surveyor will handle tasks such as preparing:

  • Notices
  • Schedules of Condition
  • Party Wall Awards

Your party wall surveyor will act on behalf of either party involved and offer expert guidance and this includes assessing the condition of the property before any work begins (like loft conversions, home extensions, structural alterations or foundation work).

Rely on expertise to navigate the party wall process by reaching out to us. Our aim is to simplify the party wall process and ensure an outcome for all parties concerned.

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Frequently asked questions

What is the Party Wall Act?

The Party Wall etc. Act 1996 is a piece of legislation in the UK that establishes the rights and obligations of property owners when engaging in construction or alteration activities potentially impacting adjacent properties and shared structures.

The central objective of the Act is to limit and address disputes by promoting a resolution in a facilitative manner that safeguards the interests of both parties. In this way, the courts are alleviated of what would otherwise become burdensome legal proceedings for them.

What is a party wall surveyor?

They are professionals appointed to represent you under the Act and determine relevant disputes with your neighbour. There are no clients in party wall, as the party wall surveyor’s appointment is statutory. Their role is therefore quasi-judicial.

What work does the Act cover?

If you or your neighbour are planning significant works, such as an extension, loft conversion, internal layout reconfiguration, or basement excavation, they may fall under the provisions of The Party Wall etc. Act 1996. The Act broadly covers three categories of notifiable work, including:

  • Excavations within 3-6 metres (depending on foundation type) and lower than the neighbour’s foundations.
  • Constructing new walls up to or astride boundary lines.
  • Alterations to party walls, party fence walls or party structures (building elements separating terraced or semi-detached houses).

When proposed work falls within the Act's scope, it becomes necessary for the Building Owner (neighbour carrying out works) to serve notice on the Adjoining Owner. If consent is not granted by the Adjoining Owner, the parties are considered to be in dispute under the Act. It then becomes mandatory for surveyors to be appointed to resolve matters through a Party Wall Award.

How does the Act protect me?

The process outlined in the Act safeguards neighbours by determining the manner and timing of notifiable works, with provisions for offering compensation in case of damage. It also grants certain rights to the neighbour undertaking the work (Building Owner), including access to neighbouring land for completing the project.

What are the different types of party wall?

The common type of party wall is one that's part of a building and divides properties.

A "party structure" can refer to a partition within a floor.

A "party fence wall" is not exactly a fence but a wall that straddles the boundary between owners.

Which specific sections of the Act are relevant to construction work?

Notifiable work under the Party Wall Act is divided into 3 sections, each corresponding to aspects of construction:


Section 1(5) involves constructing a wall up to the boundary but not extending beyond it. New walls may be built without setback from the boundary long as features like roofs, gutters and fascias do not protrude.

In section 1(2) building a wall that sits astride the boundary on both side requires consent from Adjoining Owners. This benefits the Building Owner with a slightly larger extension while allowing the Adjoining Owner to use it as a party wall in the future.

Note: if an Adjoining Owner decides to utilise this party (fence) wall they are required to pay an "enclosure fee," which covers 50% contribution towards its construction.


This section covers kinds of tasks related to an existing shared wall. Common types of work include:

  • 2(2)(a): strengthening foundations or underpinning for constructing new basements.
  • 2(2)(b): demolishing and rebuilding or repairing a shared wall when necessary.
  • 2(2)(f): cutting, into a shared wall for installing joist hangers, steel beams or waterproofing like lead flashings.
  • 2(2)(g): cutting from a party wall typically seen with chimney breasts.
  • 2(2)(l): demolishing and rebuilding or raising a party fence wall for an extension.
  • 2(2)(n): exposing a party wall (for weatherproofing).


This section comes into play when excavating for foundations within 3 metres of a neighbour’s property and beneath their existing foundations. Foundations in London homes, namely those from the Victorian or 1930s era, are usually shallow (approximately 30cm). However, new foundations must adhere to Building Control standards and often require a depth of 1 meter.

To find out more about what party wall surveyors do and the associated fees and costs, get in touch with us.

What is the legal procedure?


Whenever there are proposed works falling under Sections 1, 2 and/or 6 of the Act it is mandatory for the Building Owner to inform all Adjoining Owners. This notification process is usually overseen by party wall surveyors due to its complexity, although some homeowners may opt to serve notice without a surveyor and which is not advisable. The notice periods are 1 month for Sections 1 and 6 and 2 months for Section 2.


Adjoining Owners have the option to either give their consent or dissent. Their decision does not necessarily mean they approve or disapprove of the work itself; rather it signifies whether they want surveyors to represent their property interests. The available responses include:

  • Consent: if consent is given no surveyor will be involved and the work can proceed. It's important to note that consent may come with conditions attached (for instance a Schedule of Condition might be required to document the state of the Adjoining Owner’s property). This serves as a reference point for comparison in case any damage occurs during the construction phase.
  • Dissent and appoint an Agreed Surveyor: one surveyor, referred to as the Agreed Surveyor, will represent both the Building Owner and Adjoining Owner. This option is suitable when the nature of the work is straightforward. This can streamline the process and is often a more efficient and cost-effective approach for uncomplicated projects.
  • Dissent and appoint their own surveyor: the Building Owner's surveyor and the Adjoining Owner's surveyor collaborate, still on an unbiased and impartial basis. This approach is particularly suitable for complex projects, such as basement excavations or large-scale works, where the involvement of two surveyors is often more effective. One of their initial tasks is to select a Third Surveyor, who can be called upon in the event of a non-agreement between the Building Owner and Adjoining Owner or their respective surveyors. The Third Surveyor acts like an adjudicator who gives the final decision if the parties/surveyors can not agree.


This is a comprehensive record containing both photographic and written information relating to the condition of the Adjoining Owner's property before commencement of works. It can help evidence whether damage has taken place by referencing photos and the descriptions of existing defects.


The Party Wall Award describes the parties and surveyors to the dispute, the notifiable works, and specifies the manner and timing of the project. Surveyors may include specific conditions, such as using hand tools only for cutting into the party wall or requiring excavations near the Adjoining Owner's property to be done in 1m intervals (knows as a “hit and miss” protocol) instead of all at once.

Once the Award and drawings are finalised, they are served on all owners. The legal commencement of work by the Building Owner is contingent on either the passing or waiving of any notice periods.


Surveyors conduct a final inspection after works are complete, comparing the new state of the Adjoining Owner’s property against the Schedule of Condition. If no damage is noted, the file is closed. In case of damage, the Adjoining Owner can choose to receive a payment in lieu or have the Building Owner's contractor carry out repairs.

What if no response is received from the neighbour?

Then the parties are in “deemed dispute” and a surveyor must be appointed for each party. The party wall process continues normally.

Can my neighbour refuse or block the party wall award?

No. There are strict deadlines to adhere to and the surveyors must proceed in good time. If one of the two surveyors is causing unnecessary delay, then they may be served with a Notice to Act Effectively, otherwise their counterpart may proceed to serve an Award ex parte or refer matters to the Third Surveyor.

What is a Third Surveyor?

The Building Owner’s Surveyor and the Adjoining Owner’s Surveyor must select a Third Surveyor to act as the adjudicator in the event of a dispute between such two surveyors. The Building Owner or Adjoining Owner can also make the referral if they are dissatisfied with their surveyor’s actions. If you have an Agreed Surveyor, then no Third Surveyor is needed.

Are boundary disputes covered by party wall?

No. Boundaries are to be agreed between the parties. If neighbours are unable to do so, then they should seek the services of a boundary dispute surveyor.

What are the typical costs?

A standard party wall job requires around 6-8 hours without any changes or complications arising. Otherwise, additional time should be allowed for, which means additional cost. Surveyors typically charge between £150-350 per hour depending on their level of expertise and job complexity. The more expert they are, the less time they ordinarily require to complete the job.

Each adjoining owner needing to be dealt with typically incurs about £750-1,500 in fees, but this can be higher if the works value and sensitivity is significant.

In order to keep costs down, it is preferable to have an “Agreed Surveyor” acting for all parties.

Who pays for the costs?

The building owner typically pays for all costs including the fees of all surveyors representing the parties. The only time an adjoining owner may pay for costs is if they cause unnecessary delay to the process or they request work to be carried out to their property for maintenance reasons.

Should I appoint a surveyor?

It is advisable to do so in a bid to ensure that the works are properly carried out. This will minimise damages being incurred, which benefits both the Building Owner and Adjoining Owner. It also means that the legal process is followed more professionally and this can protect you in court. If there is a dispute under the Act, however, then appointing a surveyor is not optional; it is mandatory.

Do I need a schedule of condition?

These are not mandatory, but it is strongly recommended that you instruct a surveyor to at least prepare a Schedule of Condition.

This benefits the Building Owner to the extent that any existing damage at the Adjoining Owner’s property can be proven to not be the result of the works, whereas it benefits the Adjoining Owner to evidence any damage that did arise due to works. It works both ways.

The Schedule of Condition is designed to only schedule areas of the property considered to be at risk of the works. It does not ordinarily cover the whole property.

Do I need an Award?

If there is a dispute, then yes. An award is a legally binding document which sets out how the works are to be conducted safely, when and what happens if something goes wrong. This can be very helpful to both the Building Owner and Adjoining Owner, especially in the event of court proceedings.

An award also helps in the event of you potentially selling your property, as your legal advisor may want to see if the works have been covered off legally.

Can works start before the award is served?

Works are not permitted to start prior to the service of notice and the expiry of the notice period. It is advisable to wait for the award to be finalised, otherwise a Building Owner runs the risk of not conducting the works in line with the award to be served and may open themselves up to compensation claims or an injunction. You do not want to fall out with your surveyor(s) either.

If works have already finished, is it too late to invoke the Act?

Generally, yes. Retrospective awards are not typically viewed as valid. So, it is mandatory for the Building Owner to serve notice before or during the works. Otherwise, common law applies. An Adjoining Owner can instruct a surveyor to write to the Building Owner and pressure them to comply with the Act.

Can I appeal an award?

Yes (within 14 days), although no court is permitted to contest it if the award is valid. You should only appeal if you believe the decision is unlawful and/or proper procedure has not been followed.

When should I serve notice?

You should initiate the party wall process early, because it can drag on. Do so when you have planning permission and all of your drawings finished.

Notice periods, depending on the type of work, are either 1 or 2 months. For complex projects, the agreement of a Party Wall Award may take longer than the standard notice periods.

Should I speak to my neighbours about it?

It is advisable for building owners to communicate with their neighbours before formally serving notices. Open communication helps neighbours feel informed and may reduce the likelihood of them immediately appointing a surveyor upon formal notice, potentially incurring unnecessary surveyor fees. An Agreed Surveyor is usually preferred.

How do I know what notices to serve and on whom?

You can have your plans reviewed by an experienced party wall surveyor to confirm if the works fall within the Act's scope and if notice is required.

Having a surveyor draft the notice may increase the chances of that surveyor being appointed as the Agreed Surveyor, which can help control costs.

Multiple notices may be necessary, particularly for flats, and careful management is crucial to minimise the number of surveyors involved.

How do I avoid being over-charged?

The Building Owner pays for the surveyor fees, including fees incurred by surveyors appointed by Adjoining Owners. This can be fixed or an hourly rate (usually the latter for Adjoining Owner Surveyors) with the total to be agreed with the Building Owner's Surveyor. Disagreements can be referred to the Third Surveyor, who has the final say.

Do I need to give security for expenses?

For works involving underpinning and basement excavation, the party wall award will be more complex due to increased risks and may include considerations like security for expenses, where the Building Owner has to pay an amount held in escrow and which will only be (partially) released in the event that works do not complete. This is not to be considered as compensation; rather, it pays for making any unfinished works safe.

Works have already started but I have not served notice. Do I halt the works?

As a Building Owner, you should stop the continuation of works until the party wall process has been followed. Otherwise, you run the risk of incurring damages, particularly if no Schedule of Condition has been carried out and the Adjoining Owner claims that the condition of their property has suffered. A judge will not look kindly on a Building Owner who failed to follow due process. It may not be too late, though, as you should still be able to serve notice.

What do I do as Adjoining Owner?

Frequently, an Adjoining Owner only becomes aware of their neighbour's proposed works when notice arrives. You would then complete the acknowledgement forms and confirm whether you intend to consent or dissent.

Rarely do Adjoining Owners opt for the former, but will only do so if the works are low risk and preferably if a Schedule of Condition is conducted.

In most cases, Adjoining Owners dissent and appoint their own surveyor or appoint an Agreed Surveyor to represent both parties.

What if I do not respond?

If no response is received by the Building Owner within 14 days, the Adjoining Owner is deemed to have dissented, triggering a dispute under the Act. In case of a dispute, both owners must appoint different surveyors to reach an agreement and serve a party wall award.

What might I want to see in an award?

Typical issues addressed in a party wall award include working hours, dust and noise control, measures to limit vibration, access to the adjoining owner's land, and security.

The award also includes a schedule of condition of the Adjoining Owner’s property, along with copies of relevant method statements and drawings.

Party Wall Surveyors do not have control over planning issues such as the size and appearance of an extension or Right of Light issues and these concerns must be addressed with the local authority.

What happens after the award?

The surveyors will be on standby to step in if any issues arise during or after the works.

Once works are completed, the surveyors or Agreed Surveyor typically conducts a follow-up visit to confirm that no damage has occurred, which they do by referring to the Schedule of Condition.

Do I pay any fees?

Generally, the Building Owner (the neighbour undertaking the works) is responsible for all surveyor fees, including the surveyor to the Adjoining Owner. If the surveyors cannot agree on the reasonableness of fees, then the matter can be referred to the Third Surveyor.

My neighbour has already started works but has not served me with notice. What do I do?

The Building Owner is obligated to serve you with notice prior to works commencing if they are notifiable under the Party Wall Act. Failing to do so is a violation of the law.

If the Building Owner fails to follow due process, then you can obtain an injunction via County Court. You may, however, be required to give an undertaking that you will cover all costs if the works are not notifiable. Seek advice from a party wall surveyor and a solicitor before applying for an injunction.

How do I limit the construction noise?

The Building Owner is obligated to adhere to health and safety rules and environmental protections laws and these include keeping vibration and noise within acceptable limits and not working outside of ordinary hours.

As an Adjoining Owner, a degree of “reasonable disturbance” needs to be tolerated, but you should not have to put up with unnecessary nuisance or inconvenience. Any losses suffered by an Adjoining Owner should be quantified and recoverable as compensation under the Act.

Are contractors permitted to access my property?

You are required under the Act to grant access to the Building Owner’s contractors where necessary. They ordinarily have to serve you with 14-days notice under section 8 of the Act. If there is an urgent matter (e.g. leaking pipework), then the number of days notice may be reduced.

How do I claim compensation for damages?

If the Adjoining Owner’s property has suffered damage, then your surveyor can instruct the Building Owner to have their contractor make good the defect or the Adjoining Owner would receive payment in lieu. If neither has been received as awarded, often in an Addendum to the Award, then it can be enforced in the County Court or Magistrates Court.