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What is a Party Wall Agreement?

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Written by Reviewed by Mike Ashton

16th Mar 2023 (Last updated on 14th Mar 2024) 5 minute read

A Party Wall Agreement, also referred to as a Party Wall Award, is a legal document that is drawn up by a surveyor. This is required if you are planning structural alterations on a wall shared with adjoining homeowners. Known as a Party Wall, this is most likely to be the case in terraced or semi-detached houses.

The agreement outlines all notifiable building works, how they will be carried out, and when work can start. This is to satisfy both the homeowner who wants the work done and any adjoining owners.

The agreement is a crucial part of the dispute resolution process for Party Wall Matters. If you want to carry out work on shared structures notifiable under the Party Wall etc. Act 1996, then you may need one. Be aware that the Party Wall Act does not apply to Scotland and Northern Ireland.

  1. When Would I Need a Party Wall Agreement?
  2. What Does a Party Wall Agreement Contain?
  3. What Work Requires a Party Wall Agreement?
  4. Is a Party Wall Agreement Always Necessary?
  5. What is the Difference Between a Party Wall Notice and Party Wall Agreement?
  6. What If My Neighbour Rejects the Agreement?
  7. How Much Does it Cost?
  8. Finding a Surveyor for a Party Wall Agreement

When Would I Need a Party Wall Agreement?

A Party Wall Agreement would be required to set out the planned works on a shared existing wall. If an agreement cannot be made directly between neighbours, a party wall agreement should be used when a dispute arises. For example:

  • If your neighbour has rejected or disputed a Party Wall notice with a counter notice
  • If your neighbour hasn’t responded to the notice within 14 days

You cannot begin work until a Party Wall Surveyor has completed and served an Agreement. Doing so could result in prosecution.

What Does a Party Wall Agreement Contain?

The Agreement provides details about the obligations to neighbours and their properties. This includes alterations that may directly impact neighbouring buildings and inconvenience caused. It also notes excavations within 6 metres from the boundary if a neighbour’s home may be affected.

It helps reduce any risks of damage or loss to your neighbour's property due to the work taking place, and sets out arrangements to deal with those fairly if any loss or damage happens.

The agreement will:

  • Detail the costs involved (including surveying costs) and who is responsible for paying
  • Outline the proposed works and start date
  • Record the condition of the building on the neighbours' side
  • Detail any access requirements for the work

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What Work Requires a Party Wall Agreement?

This would be regarding alteration, improvements or construction on the following:

  • Building work on a shared wall with your neighbour
  • Various work carried out on a floor or ceiling shared by a neighbour (for example, in flats)
  • Basement and loft conversions
  • Extensions which impact the party wall
  • Building work at or on the boundary of an adjoining neighbour's property
  • Excavating within six metres below the foundation level of a building or structure
  • Removal of chimney breasts or stacks if they are part of a Party Wall

Minor work on internal walls, such as putting up wall units or pictures, will not need an agreement or notice.

Is a Party Wall Agreement Always Necessary?

A Party Wall Agreement may not always be necessary. For example, if your neighbour agrees to your notice and gives written consent for the work to take place.

That said, keep in mind that the Agreement is a legal document protecting both the homeowner and adjoining owners. Without this, you could find the work being halted or without protection under the Party Wall Act. It also lays out the plans for the work and rights of all parties in a fair and practical way.

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What is the Difference Between a Party Wall Notice and Party Wall Agreement?

The difference between a Party Wall Notice and an Agreement is that a formal notice does not need to be prepared or served by a surveyor, but an Agreement will.

The notice must be sent first and this can be done by the homeowner without the assistance of a surveyor. An Agreement, however, must be drawn up a Party Wall Surveyor. This takes place after the initial notice to any adjoining owners.

Serving a Party Wall Notice

There is no official form for giving notice under the Party Wall Act but the notice must include:

  • Your full name and address (including the name of any joint owners)
  • The address of the building where work will take place
  • A full description of the planned works. If you have plans, you should include these for clarity
  • The planned start date for the works
  • If you plan on strengthening or safeguarding the adjoining owner's property

The Party Wall notice must be in writing and be given two months before building work begins. One month’s notice is required for excavations. This starts the process under the Party Wall Act. Your neighbour then has 14 days to respond. They can accept, dispute or come back with amendments. To get a free online party wall notice generator, try out Cambridge Building Surveyors generator here.

What If My Neighbour Rejects the Agreement?

Once a Party Wall Agreement has been drawn up a surveyor, adjoining owners can only dispute it in County Court. They must submit their appeal within 14 days.

This is likely to delay the work you have planned, so keep this in mind. As we have stated above, staying civil with your neighbour is key in Party Wall matters.

For more information see: Can My Neighbour Refuse Party Wall Agreement?

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How Much Does it Cost?

The hourly rate for a Party Wall Surveyor in the UK is currently between £90 and £450 on average. Reportedly, Party Wall Surveyor costs are on average around £1,000-£2000. Keep in mind that this will depend on various factors.

The time spent on the matter and complexity of the dispute will contribute to the overall cost. If an additional survey is required to settle the matter and help draw up the agreement, this will also need to be factored into your costs. Your location may also be a factor, with surveyors charging more in affluent areas. For example, you could expect to pay more for a party wall agreement in London.

For more information see: How Much Are Party Wall Surveyor Cost?

Finding a Surveyor for a Party Wall Agreement

You cannot act as your own surveyor in Party Wall Matters. The surveyor must be independent and usually will be agreed upon by both the homeowner and adjoining owners. If an agreement cannot be made with the initial surveyor, a second or even third surveyor may be needed to settle the matter.

If you find yourself needing a Party Wall Surveyor when planning work on your home, there are a few ways you can find the right local expert for you.

  • Ask family and friends for recommendations
  • Look at companies on the RICS website
  • Check the RPSA website
  • Read local company reviews
  • Compare Party Wall Surveyors on a comparison site

At Compare My Move, we can match you with up to 6 local RICS or RPSA party wall surveyors. Many of these can help with Party Wall matters and draw up a Party Wall Agreement for you.

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Mike Ashton

Reviewed by Mike Ashton

Director, Cambridge Building Surveyors

With over 20 years of experience in the property surveying industry, Mike Ashton is the director of Cambridge Building Surveyors.

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