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Can My Neighbour Build on My Boundary Wall?

Adele MacGregor

Written by

9th May 2023 (Last updated on 14th Mar 2024) 6 minute read

A neighbour can build on their own land, up to the boundary line, without permission. The boundary line is what divides neighbouring land and buildings. If they want to build astride the boundary line, they must seek your consent.

As this falls under the Party Wall Act, your neighbours are required to serve an official written notice. This should lay out their proposed plans, start date and request permission for access. If they are looking for financial input from adjoining owners, this must also be laid out in the notice.

Below we look at your rights as a neighbour concerning boundary lines, party walls and the Party Wall Act. This includes extension work, maintenance to neighbouring buildings and other building projects

  1. What Are My Neighbour’s Rights Under the Party Wall Act?
  2. How Close Can My Neighbour Build to My Boundary Wall?
  3. What If We Disagree Over the Boundary?
  4. Can I Stop Work Going Ahead?
  5. When Should They Serve a Notice?
  6. What Obligations Does My Neighbour Have to Meet?
  7. What if My Neighbours Build Over the Boundary Without Permission?
  8. Do I Need a Party Wall Surveyor?

What Are My Neighbour’s Rights Under the Party Wall Act?

When it comes to Party Wall matters and boundaries, certain rules and regulations are in place to protect homeowners. The Party Wall etc Act 1996 protects the rights of all parties involved with a Party Wall matter. Any homeowner has the right to build up to the boundary line. They can extend work onto the party line with permission from adjoining neighbours.

Work which can be carried out under the Act includes:

  • Raising, underpinning or thickening an existing boundary wall
  • Repairing, demolishing or rebuilding a boundary wall (where necessary)
  • Inserting a damp-proof course into the shared wall (for example, in a terraced house)
  • Raising a boundary wall
  • Building a free-standing vertical wall of a building up to or astride the shared boundary

Although this work is allowed under the Act, a neighbour cannot start building works on a boundary line without notice or consent. At least two months' notice must be given, in writing, before the work begins.

How Close Can My Neighbour Build to My Boundary Wall?

Under the Party Wall Act, neighbours can build up to the party wall line without permission. They can build on their own land, providing it doesn't impact neighbouring properties. Neighbours can tell you out of courtesy but they are not required to inform you of house extensions or any work taking place on their home.

Any work which takes place on the boundary or impacts a shared wall in any way must be laid out in a written notice. Examples of this type of work include:

  • Ground floor extension if it impacts or uses a shared wall (for example, kitchen extension)
  • A single-story extension which uses an existing wall
  • Removal of a chimney breast
  • Loft conversions and loft extensions
  • Work on basement party walls
  • Placement of a reinforced concrete foundation

It is worth noting that wooden fences and screens are not considered Party Walls. Garden walls, however, are covered under the Party Wall Act.

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What If We Disagree Over the Boundary?

Each property will be surrounded by a legal boundary line. This will depict the edge of both your and your neighbour’s property. This is even if there is no physical or visual structure in place. Disputes can arise when there is uncertainty over boundary lines.

In a disagreement or dispute, you may need a boundary surveyor. They can determine where the boundary line is using old records, historical deeds and visiting the site. Additionally, a party wall surveyor will be required to draw up a Party Wall Agreement.

Can I Stop Work Going Ahead?

You cannot prevent work that is allowed under the Party Wall Act. However, you can raise a dispute. When you receive a Party Wall notice, you can either dispute it or submit a counter-notice.

Your counter-notice can include suggestions for alterations to the planned works. You can also request additional work you want to undertake. Be aware that if this is of benefit to you, you may be liable for costs.

You have 14 days to respond to the notice. If you do not respond, it will be considered a dispute. At this point, a surveyor will be required to draw up a Party Wall Agreement. If you disagree with the agreement, be aware that it can only be disputed in County Court.

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When Should They Serve a Notice?

Adjoining neighbours should be served notice before work starts. There are three notice types which include:

Section 1 – Line of Junction (one month’s notice)

Section 2 – Party Structure Notice (two months’ notice)

Section 6 – Adjacent Excavation (one month’s notice)

The initial Party Wall notice must be in writing and can be delivered in person or by post. It can also be sent electronically if you request or agree to this. The notice can either be drawn up and sent by the building owner or they can hire a surveyor to do it for them.

What Obligations Does My Neighbour Have to Meet?

The homeowner proposing the work has certain obligations to neighbours. These must be adhered to when undertaking work on a boundary or shared wall. As discussed above, they must serve notice well in advance of the work taking place.

Work must begin within 12 months of notice being served. It must be carried out in line with what was agreed upon either in the original notice or the Party Wall Agreement.

They must also ensure that there is minimal disruption to neighbours. They must also pay for any damage caused to your property during the works. Reasonable care must be taken at all times when it comes to a neighbour’s building and land and the structural integrity of all party walls must not be guaranteed. In return, you must allow access to your property as agreed if it is for the works in question.

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What if My Neighbours Build Over the Boundary Without Permission?

If your neighbour starts work without consent or permission, it is strongly recommended that you seek legal advice. In a worst-case scenario, legal action may be required.

A boundary line marks the specific territory of each individual homeowner. Your neighbours cannot start building on the boundary line without consent. They also cannot build a new wall on the boundary or on a neighbour’s land without permission. Neighbours cannot move or do anything to the boundary line without consulting the adjoining owner.

Do I Need a Party Wall Surveyor?

As the neighbour of someone proposing work on a shared wall or boundary, whether you hire a surveyor is down to you. If you need clarification on your rights in a Party Wall matter, it is essential that you speak to a specialist. Being as informed as possible is essential to ensuring your Party Wall matter is dealt with efficiently.

If you disagree with the work taking place, you may want to speak to an expert. For those looking for a second opinion or needing clarification, hiring a party wall surveyor is strongly recommended. They can then begin the dispute resolution process.

At Compare My Move, we can match you with up to 6 local RICS or RPSA surveyors who can assist with your Party Wall matters. Whether you are the homeowner proposing work or the adjoining owner, our surveying partners can assist you. We only take on the best in the business and they are monitored by our dedicated Partner Support Team.

Adele MacGregor

Having worked at Compare My Move for over five years, Adele specialises in covering a range of surveying topics.

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