London Party Walls – a short briefing!
A brief history of the Party Wall Act in London
The origin of the Party Wall etc. Act 1996 can be traced back to 1666 when the Great Fire of London gave way to a fundamental re-design of construction to restrict the spread of fire between adjacent properties.
Until the introduction of the London Buildings Act 1894, there was no set procedure in the UK for dealing with works to party walls. This led to expensive litigation to resolve quite straightforward matters.
London Party Wall Surveyors
As its name implies the London Buildings Act did not apply outside the Capital. The introduction of the 1996 Act brought the legislation in force to the rest of the country.
Some of the Capital’s surveyors could claim that they have many more years’ experience than those outside!
The volume of work in the Capital also means that many surveyors here specialise in this field.
Party Wall Notices - include excavations and boundaries!
The Act is not just limited to party walls.Both construction on a boundary or any excavations within 3m of any neighbour’s structure may require a notice.
Where deeper foundations are used then a party wall notice may be due on anyone situated within 6m of the excavations.
As a result, with a growing population of 8.9 million (2018) in a highly densely populated urban area, most relatively simple extensions trigger the Party Wall Act.
What projects do Party Wall Surveyors in London deal with?
Some of the largest and most technical take place in London. Some of the Central London schemes require party wall notices be served on entire residential blocks. This requires the surveyors to be thorough from an administrative perspective. Being a statutory process, the procedures should be carefully followed to ensure that the outcome and any party wall award is valid.
Large schemes require experienced surveyors familiar with modern and complex construction methods. For such schemes the surveyor may seek the advice of an independent advising engineer.
Basements are very popular in the most affluent suburbs of London. Whilst very expensive to construct, the high property values make them profitable. Over several years we have noticed a clear pattern of basements slowly spreading beyond these areas as the rising property values make them viable.
The recent political situation has seen a dip in property values and as a result we have seen several basements projects on hold.
Complex projects aside, the most common extension seen throughout London is a loft extension. They are relatively cheap, easy and quick to carry out. From a party wall surveyor’s perspective, loft extensions are usually straightforward. Rear and side extensions are also very common throughout London.