Having an extension put into your home can be an exciting process, but there are certain rules and regulations placed on your property that may set you back if you’re not in compliance with them. One that leaves a lot of people a little bemused are party walls, what are they? How do they work? Take a minute to read through everything you need to know, so you’re totally aware of your rights and obligations when it comes to making amendments to your property.
What is a Party Wall?
In a nutshell, a party wall is the wall that divides yours and your neighbour’s properties, with the ownership of the wall usually being split in the centre of the structure. To prevent disputes, the Party Wall etc Act 1996 provides a framework for property owners to abide by, which should be referred to when either property owner decides to extend their home. It is important to remember that whilst your home and therefore your life is slightly upturned during building work, if you live in an adjoining property, your neighbours will also experience disruption and noise – and they won’t really benefit from any of the fabulous results – so understanding and patience is key.
What action should I take?
Once the extension plans are in place and you know exactly how far you wish to build your extension, you are obliged to inform the owner of the adjoining property – this is called serving a party wall notice. Failure to serve this notice could massively delay your building work plans so it is important you take action from the get-go. The Party Wall Notice should be issued at least two months before the work in the notice is due to begin.
What kind of work requires notice?
An adjoining neighbour should be notified if any part of the party wall will be affected during renovation or if you are undergoing an excavation, any properties within 3-6 metres of yours, need to be told. This will include most loft conversions. Serving the notice can be one of the first things you do, even before you’ve received the all-important planning permission. You can start work up to a year after you have served the notice, so the best thing to do is get organised.
What if my plans change?
Don’t worry, if your plans change and you have already served the notice, in most cases, you won’t have to re-serve a new one, you can simply just show your neighbour the revised drawings.
And if my neighbours don’t agree?
Your neighbours have 14 days to respond to the party wall notice and after that it goes into dispute, which can unfortunately be a little pricey as you will need to pay for a surveyor to lay down the rules of where your builder can build up to in the property. It is best to ensure that you put aside some money (around £1000) if worse comes to worst and you do have to pay out. Another thing to note; when your neighbours agree, be sure to get it in writing before you start any work.
Should you need to appoint a surveyor, we work with trusted party wall surveyors who can help you with this process. Please contact our team who can advise you further.
For any further information about party walls or if you have any questions about your own loft extension, contact Simply Loft today on 0800 917 7571 or visit our contact page