Party Walls Explained
If You Live in a Semi or Terrace, You Have Party Walls
Party walls form a boundary between your house and your neighbour’s. There are rules regarding party rules that are there to ensure harmony is maintained.
A party wall is one of those terms that everyone has heard of, most people can vaguely define but very few people are entirely sure about. This is not an ideal situation, as most of us have party walls forming a part of our property.
If we, or indeed our neighbours, want to carry out building work or improvements, the rules covered by the Party Wall Act 1996 become highly relevant and it is important to take appropriate party wall advice.
Types of Party Wall
A party wall forms the boundary between two properties. Usually, but not always, the precise boundary lies at the centre of the wall. There are two types of party wall, known as Type A and Type B.
Type A is the sort you would typically think of. This is where the wall stands astride the boundary line and the exact boundary runs through its centre. An example of this is the wall dividing two semi-detached properties. Loft conversions typically invoke the party wall act, as structural beams will need to be fitted to the shared wall.
Type B is where the wall itself stands entirely on one party’s property but is used to separate buildings belonging to different owners. For example, you might build an extension on the back of your house that runs right to the boundary line but lies wholly inside it. If your neighbour then decides to build a structure that abuts your wall, that part of the wall that is enclosed by the structure becomes a party wall.
However, note that in this case, the boundary is not in the centre, but is on the face of the wall on the neighbour’s side.
The legislation mentioned earlier also uses the phrase “party structure.” This describes other types of construction that might form a boundary between properties. These could include floors, ceilings or other partitions between flats and conversions. However, structures of these types are rarely the subject of Party Wall Agreements.
Party Fence Wall
It sounds like a clumsy name, and that’s exactly what it is. Simple fences that are made of wood do not fall within the Party Wall Act, even if they have concrete bases and/or posts. However, a wall that straddles land belonging to different owners is considered a “party fence wall.”
So even if you live in a detached house, you might still find yourself needing to consult the Party Wall Act if there is a “party fence wall” separating yours and your neighbour’s property. Note that if the wall is entirely built on your property, a little like the wall to the extension we mentioned earlier, this is not a party fence wall. If it is completely on your land such that only its outer face forms the boundary, then it is
simply known as a “boundary wall” and it is your responsibility to maintain. It also means you can do with it as you wish.
If In Doubt, Take Advice
The above should give some insights as to what is and is not a party wall, but if you are planning on any work that might impinge upon party walls, it always pays to get some professional advice before you submit any plans or start any work, just to be on the safe side.