If you live in a terraced or semi-detached house, a party wall agreement is likely necessary for building projects like loft conversions. The Party Wall Act 1996 safeguards both you and your neighbours by outlining dispute resolution procedures and requiring neighbour consent for structural changes.
The Act grants you the legal right to undertake reasonable renovations, such as loft conversions, while allowing neighbours to raise objections. If a dispute occurs, the Act provides a framework for resolution.
Before starting any loft alterations that could impact adjoining properties, you must obtain written consent from your neighbours. The Act mandates a deadline for formal notices to ensure smooth transactions.
These notices give neighbours 14 days to respond, allowing them to consent, object, or remain silent. Silence is considered an objection, requiring you to consult a surveyor before proceeding.
You’ll need a written agreement for any work affecting shared walls or structures, such as removing a chimney or altering the wall’s dimensions. Failure to obtain approval could result in fines and legal repercussions.
A party wall agreement is not needed if your loft is atop a detached house or if you use a purpose-built column for support instead of altering the party wall.
Hiring a qualified surveyor can save you time and money. They prepare documents, serve notices, and offer expert advice, ensuring you meet all deadlines and avoid potential pitfalls.
Remember, your neighbour has the right to hire their own surveyor, and you’ll be responsible for their fees.