You can download a free Explanatory Booklet created by The Department for Communities and Local Government. This is a good source of impartial and correct information. We have also included a link to a download of the Party Wall etc. Act 1996
The Party wall act, the Party Wall etc. Act 1996 act to give its full name is a piece of legislation that was mainly transferred from Part VI of London Building Acts (amendment) Act 1939, it applies in England and Wales.
The main purpose of the act is to provide a framework for amicably preventing and resolving disputes between neighbours in relation to Party Walls, boundary Walls and Excavations near neighbouring buildings.
Building owners are given statutory rights that did not exist in existing common law, when undertaking certain types of construction as defined by the Act. As well as these rights it obliges Building owners to give appropriate notice and for the relevant notice period if they intend on carrying out the defined work.
These types of work all require notices to be served as required by the act, once notice has been served, if there is dissent then it is deemed there is a dispute and the Act allows for this, this would be the dispute or resolution stage. Most disputes arrives when the Adjoining Owner has worries or concerns with the proposed work or simply fails to respond in the statutory time to the building owner, for which there could be many reasons.
Where a dispute arises either due to non-consent or no response then the Act lays down the steps required to resolve the dispute this is where the Building Owner and the Adjoining Owner will each appoint there Surveyor this could be one each or even the same surveyor with agreement for all parties working as the Agreed Surveyor.
Party Wall Surveyors, will deal with disputes by issuing an Award. Party Wall Award(s) are ways of dealing with disputes under the Party Wall etc. Act
Building owners planning to carry out defined works within the Act. Have an obligation to serve written notice on ANY adjoining owner who may be affected by the proposed works, there is no official notice template or factor there is some guidance in Section 3 of the Act but legal names of all owners, when the proposed work will commence and detail of proposed work are all critical for a notice to be legal, the notice should contain all Building Owner names as there is legal precedent in Lehmann Vs Herman (1993).
The Party Wall etc. Act 1996 is totally separate to other legislation you would still be required to serve a Party Wall Notice upon your Neighbour(s) if the proposed work is deemed as notifiable under the Act, this would even be the case if no building control or planning permission was needed but the work is deemed notifiable.
A party wall agreement sometimes incorrectly called a Party Wall Agreement is a legally binding document between Building Owners and Adjoining Owners; which has been agreed by the Appointed Surveyor(s), authorising the building work in accordance with the act. The Award will detail all sorts of information including how the works will be undertaken, working times and days, any measures required to protect the Adjoining Owners property to prevent damage and unnecessary inconvenience. It will include drawings and in almost all cases a Schedule of Condition of the adjoining owner’s property even though it is not specifically mentioned within the Act. Almost any condition could be added to a Party Wall Award, if deemed appropriate by the Surveyor(s)