When is a Party Wall Agreement required?

Party wall surveyor

Are you planning to have building works carried out on your property – perhaps a loft conversion, building extension or a new basement? If so, you may need a Party Wall Award. As one of the leading party wall surveyors in London, we have many years of experience advising on all party wall matters. In this blog post, we’ve put together some key information to help you understand what’s involved. 

What is a party wall?

A party wall is a shared wall or other structure that divides the homes of two separate owners. It could be the wall between two terraced or semi-detached houses, or the ceiling between two flats in a block, or a shared garden fence.

The Party Wall etc Act 1996 covers three types of work affecting a party wall:

  • Alterations to a party wall/structure
  • Carrying out building work along the boundary line between two properties
  • Excavating within a specified distance of shared walls/structures on the adjoining property

Examples of building works where the Party Wall Act is applicable include cutting into terraced walls to insert roof support for a loft conversion, digging foundations close to a neighbouring structure for a conservatory or extending your property too close to the boundary. It also includes garden walls that are built over a boundary.

How to get an agreement

Before any party wall building works can begin, the homeowner (aka Building Owner) is legally required to obtain a written Party Wall Agreement from all affected neighbours (aka Adjoining Owners). To this end, the Building Owner must serve a written Party Wall Notice to all Adjoining Owners with details of the planned party wall works. The Building Owner has to give 2 months’ written notice on building works that affect a party wall or boundary, and 3 months’ notice for excavations. Once Notice has been served, the Building Owner has up to 1 year for the works to commence.

Serving a Party Wall Notice can be done by using templated forms available on the internet. However, party wall legislation is a complex area of law and failure to comply can cause significant financial repercussions and delays to your project. That is why we would always recommend that you take professional advice to ensure you are guided through the process effectively and competently. At Squarepoint Chartered Surveyors, we are highly skilled in acting for Building Owners and Adjoining Owners in all party wall matters.

Once Notice has been served, your neighbour has 14 days to respond, with three possible outcomes:

  1. The Adjoining Owner gives his written consent, with the proviso that the homeowner will rectify any problems. In this case, there is no need for a Party Wall Award. You should take pictures of the party wall and have agreed written notes detailing any cracks, with copies for both parties. Alternatively, you could appoint a party wall surveyor to prepare a Schedule of Condition in order to minimise the risk of any disputes later.
  2. The Adjoining owner dissents, or does not reply within 14 days. In this case, a Party Wall Award will be required. You would then appoint one agreed surveyor who can act impartially for the Building Owner and the Adjoining Owner and produce a Party Wall Award. This details the works proposed and includes a Schedule of Condition of the neighbour’s home.
  3. It is possible for each owner to appoint their own surveyor. However, this is the most expensive option for the Building Owner who is legally responsible for the costs of the neighbour’s surveyor in addition to his own.

Our Party Wall page has further information and advice.

Good neighbourly relations

Conducting building works in your home that affect the party wall is likely to be a smoother process if you are on good terms with your neighbours. They will rightly be concerned about the risk of damage to their property, so it is up to you to allay their fears as much as you can.

Before posting a Party Wall Notice through their letterbox, it may be polite to have a friendly informal chat first. Share sketches and explain the planned works, providing plenty of reassurance that you are as concerned about following the proper process as they will be. By the time you tell them that a formal notice will have to be sent, they may already have warmed to your approach.

Your neighbour may also reasonably ask for contact details for your surveyor or building contractor to obtain further information and reassurance about your proposed building project.

Professional guidance

At Squarepoint Chartered Surveyors, we can help you prepare the necessary Party Wall Notice and Party Wall Awards to make sure your building works are completed properly and in accordance with the Party Wall Act and with the minimum of inconvenience and disruption to you and your neighbours. Under the leadership of Scott Buchanan MRICS RMaPS MFPWS, our team is passionate about understanding buildings, taking a highly client-focused approach to providing the best possible advice. Contact us today to discuss your party wall needs.

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Really helpful team at Squarepoint, on hand to help with any queries and take you through the whole process clearly and at a pace guided by you. Our party wall surveyor, Adam, was great at communicating and efficient throughout  the whole process, could not ask for more.

I had been hunting for a simple job that required a surveyor’s expertise, but had been struggling to find trust throughout my enquiries, until I spoke to Adam.

The advice simply and honestly given by Adam on our first call was remarkable. His friendly but competent application and manner made it easy for me to hire him, and not only did he more than deliver on the required services, but his price was the most competitive I could find. Would highly recommend Eve and Adam at Squarepoint.”


I recently hired Adam to help with a party wall award required on both sides of my terraced house.

He was able to liaise with both parties to answer their initial questions/concerns, which led to them both appointing him as the agreed surveyor, which saved me time and money.

Adam prepared the final award comprehensively and quickly. I would thoroughly recommend him and his friendly Admin assistant Eve.

From the very first time I called Scott, he was very attentive to my requirements for a building survey. From the outset he noted down my areas of concern, updated me with progress prior to the survey and gave me a thorough debrief after the survey. The quality of his report was excellent, very easy to understand and, importantly, comprehensive.

I was extremely pleased with the excellent service provided by Scott Buchanan of Squarepoint Chartered Surveyors, and  I hope to contact yourselves in due course with a view to getting further advice.

Working with Adam Graham at Squarepoint was a very smooth and easy process. He was always clear and thorough in our communication and provided very detailed advice. I would highly recommend Squarepoint!”

The team at Squarepoint were very helpful, knowledgeable and understanding when dealing with my loft conversion and party wall agreement.”

We have used Squarepoint Chartered Surveyors at several of our Parishes and have found them to be very efficient in the production of reports on a variety of issues such as building condition surveys and PPM, defect investigations and Party Wall matters.”

Young, trustworthy, professionally competent and committed to delivering on time and on budget.”

Fast and friendly service with an extremely thorough survey. The Surveyor’s phone call to explain the findings of the report, before the official survey was sent, was invaluable.

I used Squarepoint for a party wall agreement. From my initial conversation with Eve through to Adam completing the party wall award, the process was smooth, professional and timely given the challenges of COVID lockdown. Thank you for your great service.