I have a great relationship with my neighbour who is building his own extension. I've taken pictures of the party wall (our side patio and fence). But my parents are saying I need a Party Wall agreement?
Yes, your neighbour needs a Party Wall Agreement from all affected neighbours before works start. Party Wall Agreements (technically called Party Wall Awards) are needed when building works require new foundations, which are close to neighbouring properties (within three or six meters, depending on the depth of the new foundations).
By rights, your neighbour should give two months’ written notice on building works that affect a party wall or boundary, or one month’s notice for excavations. He can serve notice for free using a party wall template (we have one here).
Once served the notice is served, you have 14 days to respond to it either giving assent (saying you’re happy for the works to go ahead, providing your neighbour will put right any problems) or dissent.
If you agree for the works to go ahead, you should take dated pictures of the party wall and have written notes of any cracks and provide copies for your neighbour.
In the event of dissenting to the works, both you and your neighbour can appoint one impartial surveyor (who can act for both of you) who will produce an ‘award’, which details the works proposed and a schedule of condition, including pictures, of the neighbour’s home.
Surveyors’ rates vary between £150 and £200 an hour, so a party wall award and surveyor can cost around £1,000. The cost will be borne by your neighbour, but it is important that you are happy that the surveyor will represent your interests. You can find party wall surveyors local to your area on the HomeOwners Alliance website (HOA.org.uk/services/party-wall-surveyor/).
Having an agreement in place is a good idea, even though you have a great relationship with your neighbour, as it gives you the security of knowing your neighbour will put right any issues and saves any complications further down the line.
For further information and advice on party walls, see our guide.