Tag: neighbours

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Keep your neighbours happy and look into the party wall act 

Firstly, what is the party wall act? 

The party wall act 1996 introduced a procedure for resolving disputes between owners of neighbouring properties. The Party Wall act prevents building work by one neighbour that can undermine the structural integrity of shared walls or neighbouring properties. 

What is a party wall? 

A party wall is a wall that stands on one owner’s land, but is used by two or more owners to separate their buildings.  

What is covered by the act?  

There are certain items of work that you can only be done after notifying the adjoining owners and either receiving written agreement of the neighbour. This includes:  

  • Demolishing and rebuilding a party wall 
  • Underpinning a party wall or part of a party wall 
  • Inserting a damp proof course, even if it’s on your side of the wall.  
  • Cutting into a wall to take the bearing of a beam 
  • Excavating foundations within three metres of a neighbour’s structure and lower than its foundations  
  • Rasing a party wall and, if necessary, cutting off any objects preventing it from happening  
  • excavating foundations within three metres of a neighbour’s structure and lower than its foundations 
  • excavating foundations within six metres of a neighbour’s structure and below a line drawn down at 45° from the bottom of its foundations. 

Reaching an agreement with your neighbours –  

Sending a notice to your neighbours is the first step of the process, without the issue of valid notices, no action can be taken.  

Written notices must be to the neighbours at least two months before starting any party wall works. Your notice must contain: 

  • The name and address of the building owner 
  • The nature and particulars of proposed work. Including plans, sections, and details of construction methods.   
  • The date on which the proposed work will begin 

Once you’ve given your notice your neighbour can: 

  • Give consent in writing  
  • Refuse consent, which will start the dispute resolution process.  
  • Serve a counter notice requesting additional works be done at the same time 

Finally, your neighbour must let you know in writing within 14 days if they consent to your notice.  

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The Party Wall Agreement

What is the party wall agreement? 

The party wall act was designed in England and Wales to legally settle construction disputes between neighbours. Sometimes, carrying out building work can be loud, messy and quite disruptive. This can cause a dispute between you and your neighbour when they start to complain.  Furthermore, this act prevents this from happening and is settled legally. If your neighbour complains to your local council with a valid reason of why your project would affect them, they can stop you from starting. 

Reasons why your neighbour might complain  

  • Firstly, noise  
  • Lack of light  
  • Lack of privacy  
  • Could affect their home. For example, change their foundation or look of their home. 
  • Finally, damage to their home  

Will this act stop my project? 

There is a chance your neighbour could stop you from carrying out building works if you live in a semi-detached, terrace, flat, or your detached home is close to your neighbours’ properties. Before starting building works you must serve your neighbour a notice so they know that building works are going to be carried out. After this, your neighbour has 14 days to say that don’t agree after the notice has been served. So, other things you need to think about that can stop your project is: 

  • Floors and ceilings  
  • Shared boundry walls 

Building works that come under the party wall act 

  • A loft conversion that means the boundry wall will need to be worked on  
  • Adding another storey which is on the boundry wall 
  • Changing your homes foundation  
  • Rebuilding a boundry wall 

What is a party wall? 

In addition, a party wall is a boundary wall that separates adjoining homes. So, technically speaking you only own one half of the wall meaning, if you’re wanting to carry out any works on that shared wall you will need to ask your neighbour for consent. 

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How close can you build to your boundary line?

When planning a home extension or garden, it’s important to consider if planning permission is required. And then how close to the boundary line the build will be.  

What is a boundary line?  

A boundary is a line that divides one area from another. It may be called a border and defines the extent of one or more areas that are adjacent or in close proximity. Boundaries can be defined physically by coastlines, rivers, roads, walls, fences, and lines painted on the ground.  

How close to your boundary can you build? 

If you’re planning on building an extension of more than one storey, you cannot go beyond the boundary at the rear by more than 3 meters. However, this only applies when there is no other property on the land to the rear of your home.   

A general guideline shows that a build that reaches 2.1 meters is considered acceptable and anything over that  

How close can you build to the neighbour’s boundary?  

The party wall act allows an absolute right to build-up to the boundary between you and your neighbour. It also allows you to build astride the boundary line, but only with your neighbour’s consent. 

A householder planning application may be required, which takes into account the opinions of neighbours and any other parties that may be affected by the new build. You should talk with your neighbours throughout the process to reduce the risk of them rejecting any proposal.  

What is the process for building on the boundary (party wall)? 

If you want to build a wall or garden wall astride the boundary wall, you must tell your neighbour. You can do this by serving a notice, called a party wall notice. You must also inform the adjoining owner if you plan to build a wall only on your land but up against the boundary line. However, if you have a party wall agreement, your neighbour can’t prevent you from building such a wall.  

Permitted development boundary lines –  

If the proposed build falls within permitted development rights, then the council must approve it. As long as it meets the required regulations. For example, a detached new build must have a maximum eaves height of 3m and a total maximum height of 4m.  

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