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Post pandemic lots of people are working from home and looking at transforming their living space accordingly.  Now may be the perfect opportunity to finally build that much desired kitchen extension or convert that old long abandoned garage into an office space. However, before a party starts that dream home project, it’s important to consider the Party Wall etc. Act, or else that dream could soon become a nightmare.

This legislation, enacted in 1996 to regulate building work near a neighbour’s property, allows a homeowner to work on their property within a framework designed to protect from allegations by the neighbour that the works have damaged their property.  When the Act applies, the party undertaking the building works serves a Party Wall  notice on the adjoining property owner. Typical circumstances under which a Party Wall Notice must be served relate to:

  1. Works on existing party walls, for example in circumstances where a steel beam is inserted into the party wall in order to remove an internal wall to open up space;
  2. Building on the boundary line between neighbouring pieces of land for example an extension to the rear of  property; and
  3. Excavating near neighbouring buildings.


A failure to service a Party Wall Notice, when required, can have catastrophic consequences, as this will most likely give the adjoining property owner grounds to sue, and may even have the consequence of forcing the project to stop indefinitely. A building owner who failed to serve Party Wall Notice is likely to be responsible for the other party’s legal costs of this action, an amount often in the tens of thousands.

It is therefore highly recommended that any party looking to develop their land under the above circumstances, should consult with a Party Wall surveyor.  Where works have commenced and no notice has been served, it is not uncommon for a property owner to receive correspondence from a solicitor in the midst of building works asking that those works be stopped and requiring a Party Wall Notice to be served.  This can place a hold on long awaited developments and can run the risk of builders leaving site or having to pay to store materials ordered etc.  In such circumstances it is imperative to consult a solicitor who specialises in Party Wall matters in order to check that the Act does in fact apply and to try to take steps to avoid a neighbour taking action.


For more information on any of the issues raised in this article and how they might affect you or your business, please contact Adam Coumis in our Property Disputes team by emailing [email protected] or calling 0300 373 7807.