Quick guide to party walls

The following Property Disputes practice note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Quick guide to party walls
  • Purpose of the Party Wall etc Act 1996
  • What is a party wall?
  • How does the process work?
  • Adjoining owners
  • Cost of works
  • Serving notices
  • Notice periods
  • Existing walls
  • New building on the boundary
  • More...

Quick guide to party walls

The Party Wall etc Act 1996 (PWA 1996) provides a framework that controls how a building owner who shares a boundary with an adjoining owner can carry out works. This Practice Note provides a summary of the functions of PWA 1996—for more detailed guidance, see Practice Note: Party Wall works—notices, disputes and awards.

Purpose of the Party Wall etc Act 1996

PWA 1996 affects any building owner that wishes to:

  1. work on existing party walls or structures

  2. construct a new wall or structure at the boundary line with an adjoining property, or

  3. excavate within three or six metres of an adjoining building or structure (depending on the depth of the works)

PWA 1996 works by giving building owners rights to do work to party walls that would otherwise be a trespass to neighbouring property, or would risk liability for the tort of nuisance. It also gives certain protections to adjoining owners, creates a dispute resolution method and apportions costs in certain cases.

What is a party wall?

A party wall is a wall which is part of a building and either:

  1. sits across a boundary (to a greater extent than merely its footings or foundations), or

  2. stands wholly on one owner’s land but separates buildings belonging to different owners. Only the part of that wall that is used by both buildings forms the party wall. Anything

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