What is a Party Wall and understanding?


A “party wall,” also referred to as a parting wall or common wall, is a shared dividing wall between two or more adjacent properties. It originated as a fire safety measure for London’s terraced homes as far back as the 11th century, especially in response to the Great Fire of 1666. This wall can be part of the buildings themselves or serve as a boundary, such as a garden wall, and applies to both residential and commercial properties.

A “party structure” refers to a structure separating two or more buildings or different parts of the same building owned by different individuals, such as a floor in a block of flats. Wooden garden fences are not classified as party walls.

Developers constructing multiple properties simultaneously often erect a wall along the property line dividing two terraced or semi-detached houses, with 50% of the wall on either side of the line. However, party walls can also arise from two adjacent walls built at different times or, in the case of a non-structural party wall, a firewall or insulation layer between properties, especially in blocks of flats.

However, regarding common ownership, property owners adjacent to the wall have the right to use or benefit from it, even if they do not legally own it. The Party Wall etc Act 1996 in England and Wales mandates that you notify your neighbours in advance of any work planned near or on the party wall or shared property boundary and seek their formal agreement.

A party wall agreement is distinct from planning permission or building regulations approval, each of which has its own processes. We will delve further into the party wall agreement process below.

A Party Wall Agreement or Award

If you plan to carry out any construction work on or near a party wall, or if you intend to excavate below the wall near your neighbour’s property foundations, it’s imperative to notify them in writing using a party wall notice. Of course, you can also inform them verbally beforehand. You must provide a minimum of 2 months’ notice regarding your intentions. Subsequently, both parties must collaboratively draft a written party wall agreement. 

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