Party Wall Awards

Party Wall Agreements for Loft Conversions

With over three decades’ experience of advising homeowners about Party Wall Agreements, here is everything you need to know about your loft conversion’s Party Wall requirements.  

Do I need a Party Wall Agreement for a loft conversion?

The simple answer is if you share an adjoining wall, yes. The Party Wall etc. Act 1996 states that if your home shares an adjoining wall with your neighbours, you must have a Party Wall Agreement in place before work starts to your loft.

What is a Party Wall?

A Party Wall is a wall in your home that joins your property with your neighbour’s property. These shared walls are known as ‘Party Walls’ and are owned by both of you.

If you live in a terraced home, semi-detached home or a flat it is usual to share at least one party wall with an adjoining neighbour.

What is a Party Wall Agreement for?

A Party Wall Agreement is a written legal agreement covering the party wall you share with your adjoining neighbour.

The main purpose of the agreement is to ensure that building work carried out during your loft conversion doesn’t adversely affect the structure of your neighbour’s home.

How might my loft conversion affect mine and my neighbour’s Party Walls?

Depending on the type of loft conversion you’re planning, work might involve:

  • Cutting into the party wall to support new steel beams or timber joists
  • Increasing the thickness or height of the party wall
  • Removing a chimney breast on the party wall
  • Demolishing part of or re-building the party wall (if in a state of disrepair)

As the above are covered by the Party Wall etc. Act 1996, your adjoining neighbour must be notified of any work you intend to carry out.

How do I go about getting a Party Wall Agreement?

A Party Wall Agreement must be in place before any building work starts to your loft.

The first step is to serve your adjoining neighbour with a Party Wall Act Notice which outlines the scope of work you are planning.

The notice includes details such as:

  • Your name and address
  • The address of where the loft conversion is taking place
  • Description of proposed work, including drawings or plans
  • Proposed start date of your loft conversion

If Absolute Lofts are carrying out your loft conversion, we will supply you with Party Wall Notice forms for you and your neighbour to complete.

To avoid the party wall notice coming as a surprise, it is a good idea to have a friendly chat with your neighbour beforehand. Talking through your plans keeps them in the loop and encourages their co-operation.

You can either serve the Party Wall Notice yourself or you can instruct a Party Wall Surveyor to handle this on your behalf. We can recommend surveyors we have worked with previously.

If you don’t want to pay for a separate Party Wall Surveyor, we can prepare a Party Wall ‘Schedule of Condition’ record. This involves inspecting and photographing the condition of your and your neighbour’s party wall prior work starting to your loft conversion. The Schedule of Condition provides an accurate, independent record of the Party Wall’s condition beforehand and can be used as a reference in the event your neighbour claims the build has damaged their home.

When should the Party Wall Notice be issued?

The notice should be given to your neighbour at least two months before your loft conversion start date.

Your neighbour has 14 days to respond during which they can either send written consent agreeing or dissenting the work.

What do I do if my neighbour dissents the Party Wall Notice for my loft conversion?

Most of the time neighbours are happy for the work the go ahead and return their written consent.

However, if they dissent the notice, the first step is to appoint an ‘agreed surveyor’ (someone you both approve of) to draw up a ‘Party Wall Award’ – a document setting out rules for how and when the work will be carried out.

Alternatively, you can each appoint your own surveyor to work together to draw up the award.

This ensures your and your neighbour’s rights and interests are fairly represented when drawing up the award.

If on the rare occasion both surveyors cannot agree a way forward, then a third surveyor is appointed to draw up an award that satisfies both parties.

What if I don’t hear from my neighbour during the 14 days?  

If you don’t receive a response from your neighbour, or they are unreachable for any reason, this is considered a dissent and a Party Wall Surveyor will need to be appointed to resolve any issues.

The surveyor will draw up an impartial award document that represents both your and your neighbour’s interests detailing how the work will be carried out.

My neighbour and I are on good terms but they dissented the Party Wall Notice?

Even if your neighbour says they are happy for the build to go ahead sometimes they might dissent the work and request a party wall agreement to be drawn up anyway. This is likely because they want to protect their interests and have official guidelines about how and when the refurbishment is carried out.

Who pays the Party Wall Surveyor’s fees?

The surveyor’s fees are usually paid for by yourself, the homeowner planning the loft conversion. Hopefully, you and your neighbour will be able to agree on a single surveyor but if your neighbour wishes to appoint a separate surveyor, you will need to meet the costs of both.

Can you help with Party Wall Agreements for Loft Conversions?

We aim to make your loft conversion experience as smooth as possible and can advise you on all aspects of party wall agreements and other planning requirements.

We have years of experience of helping homeowners across London arrange party wall agreements and maintain good neighbour relationships – to the point we are often asked by neighbours to undertake their conversion at the same time or soon after!

As well as advising you on how to put a party wall agreement in place, we can put you in touch with the best Party Wall surveyors.

For free, friendly advice about your loft conversion party wall, get in touch today.