Party Wall Basics


If you need help and advise with regard to disputes, particularly party walls matters, or you require a structural survey or a schedule of condition or dilapidations report or any other property matters please call 0800 298 5424 for a friendly chat.


Party Wall etc Act 1996 basics

The following article will help you get a basic understanding of the party wall process as set out within the Party Wall etc Act 1996. We would recommend the Party Wall etc Act 1996 explanatory free booklet that is available from the office of the Deputy Prime Minister: website

The aims of these articles are to give a basic understanding (although not detailed understanding) of the Party Wall etc Act 1996. This particular article looks at the terms used in the party wall world.

Free phone 0800 298 5424

A party wall defined

This is a wall that stands astride a boundary of land belonging to two or more different owners. Interestingly enough, the Act doesn't just relate to party walls (that is why we have the etc. bit) and also it redefines different types of party walls.


Party fence wall

The first term we will look at is the party fence wall. This is a wall that doesn't form part of a building and stands astride the boundary line between lands of different owners. In summary, it is used to separate these lands. Typically, it is a garden wall and that is what most people would call it, but it doesn't include a wooden fence!


Line of junction

The term line of junction is often used in the party wall world to mean a boundary line.


The other type of party wall

This is a party wall that sits wholly on the land of one of the owners, but is used to separate or divide their land or buildings. A good example of this is where a garden wall has been built, building on one person's land and next door builds a house extension utilising this wall. Another term used in the party wall world is party structure and this is more of an all embracing term that can be used for walls or floors, for example that divide flats, but still fit the interpretation of astride a boundary of land between two different owners.


Who do party walls affect and more specialist terms that are used


The land or building owners terms

The first term to get used to is that a building owner, and this is usually the person that wants any work to be carried out, initiates the Party Wall Act. The second term that is often used is adjoining owner. This has slightly different connotations, as it can relate to the actual freeholder of the property or the leaseholder or leaseholders, with regard to a lease the interest has to be greater than one year. Therefore, an adjoining owner can in fact be several people or companies. These terms are very much used in abundance so you should get used to the term building owner and adjoining owner.


Terms used for the different sorts of surveyors

Initially in any dispute the building owner will seek advice and guidance from a specialist building surveyor (also sometimes known as the unappointed surveyor). The surveyor will advise and help the building owner to serve a notice on the adjoining owner. It is only when dispute arises from this notice served that we move onto the next stage and that is where we have appointed surveyors. There will be an appointed surveyor for both the building owner and the adjoining owner. However, there is another alternative, which is where both the building owner and the adjoining owner agree on having an agreed surveyor; so this is one surveyor appointed in agreement by both the building owner and the adjoining owner to see through the Party Wall etc Act 1996.

It is the ideal situation, in our opinion, particularly with domestic disputes. However, frequently both sides wish to have their owner surveyor feeling rightly or wrongly, and we would say wrongly, that the surveyor will be acting on their behalf. They are in fact not acting on their behalf but simply ensuring that the Party Wall etc Act 1996 is carried out correctly.

There is a further surveying term used and that is the third surveyor. This is the surveyor that is selected by the two appointed surveyors, so that if there are any difficulties they can hopefully be resolved. We have carried out an article specifically on third surveyors which we would refer you to.


Why do people use the Party Wall etc Act 1996?

It is because they gain more rights than they do have under common law. However, unless the Notice is served correctly and the surveyors have authority to act, the Party Wall etc Act 1996 does not exist. We have heard it explained as if you are going to a party without an invite to get the party wall Award started.

Then, in its simplest form, the building owner will work with his party wall surveyor and the adjoining owner will work with this party wall surveyor to have whatever work the building owner is wishing to have carried out and the adjoining owner to influence the work (but not stop it) until the work is completed. This is the ideal scenario.


How does the Party Wall etc Act 1996 work?

From a building owner's point of view they need to appoint a party wall surveyor. In our experience, we would recommend that they first of all seek advice from the surveyor as to their situation prior to instructing the party wall surveyor, as in some cases the Party Wall etc Act 1996 is not appropriate. Typically, Party Wall Notices will be required for any work that requires taking a bearing off the wall, any alterations to the wall, i.e. raising it, thickening it or cutting it down or off, demolition and rebuild or protecting work. Smaller works, such as adding a flashing or fixing a shelf (although in theory you are taking a bearing off the wall), or cutting it away to put electrical points in are too small to mention.

The key point with regard to the Party Wall Act is where there could be a consequence for structural strengthening or support, etc, or that to the adjoining property then the Party Wall etc Act 1996 applies.


See our other articals regarding party walls:

What is a Third Surveyor in Relation to Party Wall Act etc 1996?


If you truly do want an independent expert opinion from a  surveyor to specialise in party wall work please contact us on 0800 298 5424 for a surveyor to give you a call back. We are also happy to carry out third surveyor work. If you require a structural survey, a schedule of condition, a dilapidations report, specific defects report, home buyers reports or any other property matters please contact us.

If you have a commercial property, be it leasehold or freehold, then you may wish to look at our Dilaps Website at and for Disputes go to our Disputes Help site .

We hope you found the article of use and if you have any experiences that you feel should be added to this article that would benefit others, or you feel that some of the information that we have put is wrong then please do not hesitate to contact us (we are only human).

The contents of the web site are for general information only and is not intended to be relied upon for specific or general decisions. Appropriate independent professional advice should be paid for before making such a decision.

All rights are reserved the contents of the web site is not to be reproduced or transmitted in any form in whole or part without the express written permission of


0800 298 54 24


building engineers

Home Buyers Reports Property Surveys - why we're the best. Engineers Reports
© Copyright

1stassociated-logo-for-footer IVSA-badge IVSA-putting-client-first call-us-for-footer

We have thousands of free property articles to help you - or call us freephone on 0800 298 5424

We have been working in the property industry for many years and have been
providing free property articles for over ten years. All for free and to help you with buying your next property.

House and Home Surveys and Useful Information

All you need to know about Building Surveys

Building Control, what do they do?

Designers and Architects will they save me money or will they cost me money

Enviroment, Your Building and Garden Gnomes

Estate Agents help sell houses and work for the vendors

Have a Structural Survey to protect you against structural problems

Home improvements, builder problems and ideas for you on how to solve them

How a Surveyor values a property, Chartered Surveyors and Regulated Valuers

How Chartered Engineers and Building Engineers can help you

Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas

NHBC National House Building Council

Structural Surveys and How We Can Help You

Traditional and Non-Traditional Houses and Mortgage Problems

Valuations and how much is the building worth?

Whats the difference between a Chartered Building Surveyor, Chartered Surveyor and an Independent Surveyor

Useful property problem articles by Chartered Surveyors explaining building issues to avoid

External - Helpful information on building problems on the outside of the property

Chimney issues and problems

Cracking and Movement Problems and Surveying Solutions

Flat Roof Problems, how we can solve them

Foundations and Structures and Settlement and Subsidence and Underpinning

Pitched Roofs Problems and Solutions

Roof Problems

Wall Problems

Windows and Doors and Fascias and Soffits and Wet Rot and Dry Rot and other problems

Internal - House problems we have investigated inside

All you ever need to know about floors

Asbestos in your home, what you need to know

Ceiling Cracks and Structural Problems

Condensation, Damp and Black Mould Problems

Cracking and Movement Problems and Surveying Solutions

Windows and Doors and Fascias and Soffits and Wet Rot and Dry Rot and other problems

Woodworm is it a problem or not? Is it active or not?

Services - Building help and advice on costly services

Drainage, what's underground can affect what's above ground

Heating; I just can't get my house warm enough or alternatively I just can't get my house cool enough

You can't mess around with the electric, you need an expert


Commercial Property Services

Building Terms Explained and Directories

Commercial Property Surveys

Commercial Structural Surveys

Leisure Facilites

Offices Large and Small

Shops and Retail

Warehouse and Industrial Buildings

Dilapidations Help and Advice What is a Dilapidations Notice?

A Beginner's Guide to Dilaps

Damp Mould and Condensation

Dampness Rising Damp Mould Black Mould Condensation

Dilapidations and Negotiations

Dilapidations Claim by a Landlord

Energy Saving what can I do?

Finance what is a Financial Adviser (We are not Financial Advisors)

Fire Risk and Help

Health and Safety Risks

Insurance how do I get the correct property insurance?

Landlords Surveying Advice

Property Investment how can I invest in property?

Property TV Reviews by an Independent Surveyor

Schedules of Condition Leasing a Commercial Property

Scotts Schedule and Section 18 Valuation

Tenants Surveying Advice

Weather how does weather affect my property?



Snow and Ice

Strong Winds

Reviews from clients on Commercial Building Surveys

Churches and Charities, helpful reviews from our clients

Industrial Buildings and Warehouses and what our clients say about us

Offices Large and Small, reviews and feedback from our clients

Pubs, Restaurants, Hotels and other Leisure facilities we have surveyed over the years

Shops and Retail, helpful reviews from our clients


First Time Buyers

Buying a Leasehold or Shared Freehold Home

Buying and Selling Houses for the experienced house and home purchaser

First Time Buyers how do I go about buying my first house and home?

Improve your property knowledge with our presentations on house, homes and commercial property

Building Surveys

Building Surveying Useful Information


Dilapidations Presentations in Detail

Final Year Building Surveying Exams for University Students or those that would like to know more

How old is your Building? Which era was it built in?

Party Walls

Surveyors and Design Tools

Disputes and Party Walls

Boundary Disputes

Building and Property Disputes

Party Wall Book Reviews

Party Walls Your Rights and Responsibilities

1stAssociated Surveyors Review for Structural Surveys and Building Surveys

Building Surveys, reviews and feedback from satisfied customers

Buy to let property clients, what they say about our structural surveys

Buying at auction, review of the survey

Buying bungalows and retirement properties and how our surveyors can help

Both at work / busy couples, how we can help and some 1stAssociated client reviews

Families with a young person flying the nest, reviews and feedback

First Time Buyers, what they say about us

Listed buildings, structural surveys

Older buildings, a review of buying an older house

Families with children looking for a new home, feedback and reviews

Buying a Non-Traditional Property

Residential Surveys

House and Home Surveys

Commercial Building Surveys

Commercial Surveys

1st Associated Surveyors Are Also Available in the Following Areas:

East Anglia and East

South and South East

West Country and South West


North and North East



London Markets

London Parks



Areas of Britain

1stAssociated Independent Expert Property Surveyors

Specialists in Home Buyers Reports, Building Surveys and Structural Surveys and Schedules of Condition

All Surveyors are Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors qualified and RICS regulated

and are Members of the Independent Surveyors and Valuers Association

Putting the Client First

We do not accept service of documents by email or fax