Section1, 2 And 6 Of the Party Wall Act
The Party Wall ACT of 1996 grants the owner of a property the legal right to undertake certain types of work which might without the Act constitute a trespass or be deemed a nuisance by the next-door neighbour. However, the Act is also designed to help owners of adjoining properties avoid the adverse effects of such works by imposing a couple of requirements that all adjoining homeowners need to follow. One of these requirements is of furnishing a notice before carrying out work.
The Act also has provisions for dispute resolution which will have to be mediated by an appointed surveyor or surveyors, if there are concerns about any proposed works.
In this article, we’ll take a closer look at what Section 1, Section 2, and Section 6 of the Party Wall Act is all about. We’ll also go into when the Act comes into play as well as a brief rundown of the sub-sections of the Act that pertain to serving notices as and when required.
Section 1 of the Party Wall Act mainly deals with the construction of a new wall(s) at the junction of two homes. So, if a new wall or fence is to be built across the decided boundary line, the neighbour will need to be served a notice. However, this isn’t your run-of-the-mill notice like an insurance claim since the new wall will go where there wasn’t one. It is also unlike rebuilding a wall that’s broken, demolished or in danger of failing. However, it can apply in some instances so adjusters and advisors will need to be notified so that they are fully aware of what the Act mandates.
What Does This Mean?
What it means is that you have the right to build against the party wall or line of junction, but not over it or form a new party wall without permission from your neighbour. It is always a good idea to discuss all the options you are considering with your neighbour before serving the notice. The notice can then be served once they have agreed to the work and if it means building a new party wall are willing to share in its ownership.
Now if your neighbours agree, they will have the right to use the wall to build an extension of their own. However, it will be subject to paying a percentage of what the wall will cost to build when they use it.
In the event your neighbour does not want the new wall built on their land (50% of it), they can refuse, and so the wall will have to be built on your land entirely. You, as a property owner, have the right to build on your own property and it does not require consent from the owner of the neighbouring property. However, you are still required to serve a notice, ideally a month before you intend on starting to work to inform them of your intentions.
Now unlike Section 6 and 2 of the Act, you don’t have to wait for consent from your neighbour since the wall is to be built on your land. So, you can build the wall as soon as the 1-month period is up, or even sooner if the neighbouring home chooses to waive the waiting period for you.
It is important to stress that unlike other sections of the ACT, the adjoining homeowner can’t appoint a surveyor simply because they received a notice unless there is a dispute over the notice as per section 1. Disputes are fairly limited, and so it is unlikely that if you’ve served a section 1 notice that it will end up meaning that surveyors are called in, or maybe a Party Wall Award is made.
In a nutshell, if you want to build a new party wall that straddles the designated boundary, it is mandatory to serve a notice and then get written consent from your neighbour. Your neighbour has a 14-day period within which to respond. If the owner does not consent, i.e., they have dissent, you can still build the wall, but it has to be on your property. To build the wall on your own land, there is no need for written consent. The same goes for if you want to build the wall on your land, to begin with, that said you still need to serve a notice and wait a month before you commence any construction work.
Section 2 of the Party Wall Act, mainly applies to works done to the walls, structures and the fence walls. Any work that’s intended to be carried out on the party wall like cutting into it, underpinning, cutting away from the wall, thickening, raising, demolishing, rebuilding or making good requires that a notice be served to the next-door neighbour.
It is very common for these to apply to the insurance claims. Subsidence claims, structural repair and underpinning of party walls are extremely common. In the same way in the event of fire damage to a structure or building, it may become mandatory to expose the party wall or even go through it so that the wall can be repaired.
What Does it Mean?
Section 2 of the Act mainly addresses the issues with an existing party wall or a fence wall generally alluding to major work. Take for instance, that you are allowed to drill into the wall for wall plugs, or screws or to put up a shelf for a picture without needing to notify your neighbours formally. Furthermore, the Act is lenient when it comes to minor work like this. However, if you were to drill into the wall to install a DPC (Damp Proof Course), it is considered major work and will be requiring notifying your neighbour.
As a homeowner, you need to look at the work you’re about to carry out and think objectively if it will affect your neighbour. If it does affect your neighbour, then it is addressed in this Act.
Section 6 of the Act mainly addresses excavations that are scheduled or planned to take place in close proximity to the party wall or the owner’s structure and the frequent insurance claims.
According to section 6 (1) of the Act, if excavations are to take place within a proximity of 3 meters of the adjoining structure, which is to go lower than the foundations of the home, then formal notice for the work will need to be served in advance.
Section 6 (2) of the Act clearly says that if excavation is intended within six meters of the next-door neighbour’s property and cuts through a 45-degree angle from under the foundation, then too a notice needs to be served.
Section 6 also highlights that if excavation works for a new foundation, drainage, underpinning and services are to be carried out in close proximity to the neighbour’s property; then notices need to be sent, while advisors and adjustors need to be informed.
What Does it Mean?
Section 6 of the Party Wall Act defines two distances, i.e. 3 meters and 6 meters from the party wall. Most domestic work is set within the 3 meters rule while deeper excavations which are required for building basements or perhaps piling that are around 3-6 meters away may require that you notify the neighbours formally as per the Act.
However, unlike Section 1, Section 6 of the Act requires that an excavation notice be accompanied by your building or work plans. It needs to show sections on the site, as well as the depth of the planned excavation in addition to its location/proximity from the structure. Generally speaking the more detail, the better.
All Section 6 Excavation and Construction Notices are required to be served a month or 30-days prior to starting the required work. You then need to allow, that much time for the neighbour to respond either way.
Generally, all homeowners who intend to carry out such work that comes under Section 6 should seek the advice of a Party Wall Surveyor to determine if it comes under the 3 meters or 6 meters rule of the Act.
On the other hand, if you are a homeowner and have been served a notice by your neighbour, you have 14 days within which to respond to the notice. You can either agree, not agree (dissent) or serve a counter-notice. If you do not respond, it is automatically assumed that you have dissented.
The 1996 Party Wall Act is complex with numerous sub-sections that need to be fully understood to both know your rights and the rights of your neighbours. If you are considering carrying out any work near the Party Wall or building a Party Wall for that matter across the designated boundary, it is always a good idea to contact a Party Wall Surveyor. A Surveyor should be able to advise you on the best way forward or if your work requires that you serve a notice.
However, you shouldn’t let the complexity and nuances of the Party Wall Act deter you from carrying out the required or planned work. There are many experts like us who can help work things out and come up with the best way forward for the work you want to carry out.