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Party Wall: Chimney Breast Removal

long_term_service

Written by Reviewed by Mike Ashton

13th Feb 2023 (Last updated on 25th Jan 2024) 6 minute read

Formerly an essential part of a home in the UK, many homeowners now look to remove the chimney breast in their home. To do so, however, means following the correct procedure. This includes Planning Permission, Building Regulations and complying with the Party Wall etc Act 1996.

If you live in a semi-detached or terraced house, removing a chimney breast will likely impact neighbouring properties. If the chimney is classed as a Party Wall or part of a Party Wall, you must notify your neighbour first.

In the event a dispute arises with your neighbour, you may need a Party Wall Agreement. This is a legal document drawn up by a surveyor.

Below we look at what removing a chimney breast involves and when you need a Party Wall Surveyor.

  1. Is a Chimney a Party Wall?
  2. Do I Need a Party Wall Agreement for a Chimney Breast Removal?
  3. The Role of a Party Wall Surveyor
  4. Getting Planning Permission
  5. Complying with Building Regulations
  6. Costs to Remove a Chimney Breast
  7. Can You Remove a Shared Chimney Breast?
  8. Can I Take Down a Chimney If My Neighbour Doesn’t Use Theirs?
  9. Who Pays for Repair Works?

Is a Chimney a Party Wall?

If the chimney is part of the Party Wall, then any work on it will come under the Party Wall Act etc 1996. This is a piece of legislation that protects the parties involved in a Party Wall discussion or dispute.

A Party Wall is usually a shared wall with a neighbour, for example in a terraced or semi-detached home. When both homeowners use or own the wall, any work on the wall must either be agreed upon by both owners, or allowed by a party wall agreement.

If the chimney is not part of an adjoining wall, it is not a Party Wall. This would be the case if you live in a detached home or end of terrace, for example.

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Do I Need a Party Wall Agreement for a Chimney Breast Removal?

As we’ve stated above, if the chimney breast makes up part of a Party Wall then it is covered by the Party Wall etc. Act 1996. As a result, you will need to notify your neighbour and come to an agreement before any work begins.

If your neighbour rejects or ignores your notice, a surveyor will need to draw up a Party Wall Agreement. This is also known as a Party Wall Award. Within this, the surveyor will decide who pays for producing the award and check that the proposed works are in line with the Party Wall etc. Act 1996.

According to the Act, if no dispute arises there is no requirement to appoint a surveyor. There would therefore be no need for a Party Wall Agreement to be drawn up.

If the adjoining owner responds to your notice in writing within 14 days consenting to the chimney breast removal, the work can go ahead as agreed.

The Role of a Party Wall Surveyor

A Party Wall Surveyor will be required if your neighbour refuses or ignores your notice. If an agreement cannot be reached, a surveyor will need to be appointed to draw up an “award”. This is commonly referred to as a Party Wall Agreement.

According to the Party Wall Act, the surveyor must be a person agreed upon between owners. Alternatively, each owner can appoint their own surveyor to draw up the award together. If the two cannot agree, a third surveyor will be engaged to reach an agreement.

All surveyors acting under the dispute resolution procedure of the Party Wall Act must take into consideration both owners. The award should be drawn up impartially and fairly.

Be aware that you cannot act as your own surveyor during a Party Wall dispute, even if you are a surveyor by trade.

The surveyor or surveyors will draw up the award and do the following:

  • Set out the planned work
  • Detail how and when the work will be carried out
  • Any additional work required (for example, protecting neighbouring buildings when the chimney breast is removed)
  • Recording the condition of the adjoining property prior to work commencing
  • Details of the access granted for the surveyors to assess the ongoing work. This is to see it is being carried out in accordance with the award
  • Provide professional advice

One of the best ways to find a party wall surveyor is by comparing surveyors in your area. Compare My Move can match you with up to 6 local RICS or RPSA surveyors, so you can find the best surveyor for your chimney breast removal.

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Getting Planning Permission

Reaching an agreement with the adjoining owner under the Party Wall Act does not mean that Planning Permission is not required.

When you are looking to change the outer appearance of your home, you may need to apply for planning permission. If removing the chimney breast changes the external wall of your home, this will likely be a requirement.

If your home is a listed building or within a conservation area, you will more than likely need planning permission. This is so the aesthetic appeal and historical integrity of the building is maintained. You should also check there are no other regulations to adhere to.

Complying with Building Regulations

In addition to Planning Permission and an agreement with your neighbour, you may also need Building Regulations approval.

Building work that is carried out on a property in the UK must follow certain standards. This should usually be applied for after Planning Permission but before work begins.

Improvements and home extensions are covered under the Building Regulations 2010. This includes adding the removal of a chimney breast and work related to it.

Building Regulations ensure that the health and safety of those in the buildings are protected. It also ensures the work is in line with regulations and legal. You will also need to ensure the chimney breast removal adheres to local regulations.

Costs to Remove a Chimney Breast

The cost of removing a chimney breast will depend on a few factors. If you need a surveyor to draw up a Party Wall Agreement, this will add to your cost. Needing Planning Permission will also contribute.

Below we look at the potential costs to remove a chimney breast:

ServiceCost

Chimney Breast Removal

£2,500 (£500 if non-load bearing)

Party Wall Agreement

£1,000

Planning Permission

£190 - £206 depending on location

Building Regulation Checks

Usually 10% of the cost of the work


Keep in mind these costs are UK averages and your costs will depend on your location and the work required.

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Can You Remove a Shared Chimney Breast?

Where a chimney breast is shared between two homes, both homeowners must agree to remove it. This is whether it is part of a project for one homeowner or if the chimney breast is damaged.

If there is a breach to the structural integrity of the chimney breast and it needs to be removed for safety reasons, the cost will often be split between owners. However, if it is part of improvement works that benefit one homeowner, they will usually be responsible for all costs involved.

The homeowner must also have permission and agreement from the adjoining owner. Inconvenience to the neighbour should be kept to a minimum where possible. Any damage caused must be remedied and paid for.

Can I Take Down a Chimney If My Neighbour Doesn’t Use Theirs?

Your neighbour may not use their fireplace, but this does not mean they want the chimney removed. Regardless of whether their chimney is used or not, if it is shared then you will usually need your neighbour's agreement. You cannot remove a shared chimney breast without their written consent.

Who Pays for Repair Works?

As we’ve stated above, if the chimney breast needs to be removed due to damage, poor brickwork or safety concerns, the cost will usually be split between both owners.

However, if the removal of the chimney breast is part of a renovation project that benefits just one homeowner, they will usually be solely liable for all costs.

long_term_service
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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