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Do I Need a Party Wall Agreement for An Extension?

Adele MacGregor

Written by

21st Feb 2023 (Last updated on 8th Feb 2024) 5 minute read

If your extension involves work on a party wall, you may need a Party Wall Agreement to proceed. You can only build an extension on the Party Wall if adjoining homeowners consent to the work. If they refuse or a dispute arises, a surveyor will need to be hired to draw up a Party Wall Agreement.

This applies whether you are planning a rear extension, side extension or basement extension. It will also apply to many loft conversions. Party Wall matters will most likely impact people in semi-detached and terraced houses.

You must also ensure the extension complies with Planning Permission and Building Regulations. If your home is in a conservation area or is a listed building, there may be extra regulations to consider.
Below we look at when and why you would need a Party Wall Agreement and what to consider with an extension.

  1. What is a Party Wall Agreement?
  2. Obtaining Consent from the Neighbour
  3. Importance of a Party Wall Surveyor for an Extension
  4. Ensure Compliance with Building Regulations
  5. Risks of Building an Extension on a Party Wall
  6. Party Wall Surveyor Fees
  7. What Happens If There is a Dispute?

What is a Party Wall Agreement?

A Party Wall Agreement is a document drawn up by a surveyor which complies with the Party Wall Act etc 1996. Also known as a Party Wall award, it is designed to settle disputes between neighbours regarding works on a Party Wall.

The agreement will:

  • Outline the proposed building works
  • The costs involved and who is responsible for paying
  • Outline the property owners' obligations to neighbours and their properties
  • Give details of access requirements where a neighbour's property is concerned

Be aware that the Party Wall Act does not apply to Scotland or Northern Ireland.

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Obtaining Consent from the Neighbour

Under the Party Wall Act, you must provide a formal written Party Wall notice to your neighbour. This must be done at least two months before the proposed work begins. They have 14 days to respond to your notice and this must be done in writing.

Be aware that the notice is only valid for a year. Work may begin earlier than the two-month notice if the adjoining owner agrees. They are not obliged to agree to this even if they agree to the work taking place.

Importance of a Party Wall Surveyor for an Extension

It is vital you find and hire a surveyor when building an extension on a party wall. An agreement cannot be drawn up without a Party Wall Surveyor and work cannot start without one. This will also outline who is responsible for paying the costs involved and when and how the work will go ahead.

A surveyor must also ensure the structural integrity of the wall is not impacted and it is safe to build on. They will help mitigate risks to all parties, ensuring the works run smoothly. The surveyor can also settle any dispute between neighbours regarding the work.

Can I Get a Party Wall Agreement Without a Surveyor?

No, you cannot obtain a Party Wall Agreement without a surveyor. You also cannot act as your own surveyor in a Party Wall dispute or draw up your own agreement.

Compare My Move can connect you with up to 6 local RICS or RPSA party wall surveyors, ensuring you have the best professional for your extension.

Ensure Compliance with Building Regulations

Besides complying with the Party Wall Act, you need to consider Building Regulations. Building regulations approval is required for certain home improvements including extensions. This must be obtained after planning permission but before you appoint a builder. This is a statutory requirement set by the government.

This is to ensure design and construction meet Buildings Regulation and Associated Legislation. This covers health and safety, fire safety and the structural integrity of a building. It is also in place to ensure there are long-term environmental benefits.

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Risks of Building an Extension on a Party Wall

When building an extension on or from a party wall, you are not only risking damage or changes to your own property. Your neighbours' property may also be affected. Be aware that any damage caused by the work must be rectified and paid for by you. Additionally, this could result in a strained relationship with neighbours.

You must also ensure that the Party Wall is secure and stable. It must be secure enough to bare the weight of the extension. There also needs to be a certainty that the structural integrity of the wall will not be affected.

Your surveyor can inspect the wall and make you aware of any concerns prior to work starting. If necessary, you may need a structural surveyor to assess the wall

Party Wall Surveyor Fees

If your extension involves work on a party wall, you will need to consider the cost of a Party Wall Surveyor. On average. Party Wall Surveyor costs are around £1,000.

These surveyors often charge an hourly rate and in the UK currently, this is usually between £90 and £450. Keep in mind this is an average. The costs can increase depending on the details of the dispute and the planned works.

If more than one surveyor is needed, you will need to consider the cost of additional surveyors. For example, for a second opinion or to appease your neighbour or even a third surveyor to settle a dispute. As the person having the extension, you will more than likely be responsible for all these costs.

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What Happens If There is a Dispute?

If the adjoining owner refuses or ignores your initial notice, there is deemed to be a dispute. It is at this point that you should hire a surveyor to assess the situation and draw up a Party Wall Agreement.

The Award is final and binding unless it is rescinded or modified by the county court on appeal. The adjoining owner has 14 days from when the Party Wall Agreement is reduced to dispute it in County Court. This should not be taken likely. If the appeal is successful you may incur costs against you.

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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