The Party Wall etc. Act 1996 (“The Act”) applies to all properties in England and Wales, whether they are commercial or residential. The Act is not applicable in Scotland or Northern Ireland. The Act is likely to affect owners of any type of property in England or Wales, including property investors, property developers, homeowners as well as anyone likely to be affected by the building works.
The Act has the dual purpose of enabling building work to take place, while at the same time ensuring that the adjoining owner's property is protected.
The Act requires the building owner to take full responsibility for following the regulations it contains, and no part of that responsibility can be delegated to builders or project managers. This resembles Health and Safety regulations and other laws, where the building owner has the ultimate responsibility.
The purpose of The Act is to ensure building owners are able to carry out building works within a mechanism for resolving any disputes that may arise without the need to go to court, as it provides a recognised dispute resolution process.
Planning, building control, boundary disputes and The Party Wall Act, are all elements of property law and each has its own place – i.e. one does not exclude another. In other words, if a property owner has planning permission or intends to carry out building works via Permitted Development, it does not necessarily mean that they are covered under The Act and, therefore, do not have to undertake the Party Wall process.
When Party Wall surveyors discuss The Act, they refer to Notices and Section numbers. This does not always mean much to property owners, builders or anyone else involved, who may be thinking in terms of their own specific projects. Therefore, I have tried to relate examples of projects to the relevant Sections within The Act. Examples of projects given are:
Loft extension/loft conversion
Removal of chimneys
Porches and outhouses may also
In order to have the best chance of gaining consent or having an agreed surveyor selected, once you have the first draft of the project available, you should start the Party Wall process.