The Party Wall Etc. Act 1996 Explained

You would expect that an Act of Parliament that came into force in 1997 and that could affect as much as 25% of the population of England and Wales would be quite well known. But no! For a very high percentage of these people, the Party Wall etc Act 1996 turns up as a great surprise, causing delays and unexpected costs.

Planning Authorities, architects, engineers and contractors will all now advise the Building Owner (the person who owns the property where work is taking place) to sort out the Party Wall procedures before the work is started.


What is a party wall matter?

The Party Wall etc Act 1996 sets legal obligations put in place to safeguard the rights and responsibilities of both a Building Owner and Adjoining Owner during certain building works to shared walls (party walls), close to adjacent buildings, or at a boundary (the line of junction).

Some examples of works covered are:

  • Loft conversions
  • Extensions
  • Excavating within 3m or 6m of a neighbouring property
  • Building on the boundary with a neighbouring property
  • Underpinning
  • Some alterations or internal refurbishment


The Party Wall Act does not change any requirement for Planning Permission or Building Regulation Approval for building works, and equally obtaining Planning Permission or Building Regulation Approval does not negate the legal requirements under the Party Wall etc Act 1996.

If you or your neighbour are carrying out work and you are unsure if the works fall under The Party Wall etc 1996 Act, please contact us for free independent advice on all party wall matters.

Find further information on the Party Wall etc Act 1996 on the Department for Communities and Local Government website.

What is a Party Wall award?

A contract between the two owners, prepared and served by the surveyor or surveyors, setting out the duties and obligations of both parties. It also serves as a “buffer” between the parties in the event that there are matters under dispute that fall within the Act. It also makes it possible to find a resolution to problems that may arise without a long and expensive legal procedure, as long as the problem falls within the surveyor’s remit.