The Perils of Party wall

What is party wall consent?

The party wall Act provides a framework for preventing or resolving disputes in relation to party walls, party structures, boundary walls and excavations near neighbouring buildings.

If you own a property that shares a wall or boundary with a neighbouring property and intend to undertake structural/ building works that would affect that shared wall/boundary it is required that you gain consent from your neighbour(s) prior to the works taking place.

Relevant works include ( but are not exclusive to) –

  • building a new wall
  • cutting into a party wall
  • making a party wall taller, shorter or deeper
  • removing chimneys from a party wall
  • knocking down and rebuilding a party wall


The act of gaining consent can be a costly and time consuming enterprise, depending entirely on the stance taken by your neighbour, and can affect when and how the works are undertaken.

In some cases, it may be more beneficial to reconsider the works you intend to undertake or work with your contractor, designer and structural engineers to design a solution that circumnavigates any works that would affect the party wall.

A good example is a site that MGI worked on recently. The original scheme was designed in such a way that party wall consent would not be required however following site investigation by the appointed structural engineer it was recommended that 2 existing beams, previously intended for retention, should be replaced as the existing were showing unacceptable levels of deflection. Whilst it could be argued that the beams had been in situ for 100 plus years and were unlikely to deflect any further or collapse entirely the engineer recommendation was that it would be prudent to undertake the works to these beams at the same time as the planned refurbishment rather than having to return at some point in the future. Unfortunately, as the site shared boundaries to both sides, these works would have triggered the need for party wall consent. An unacceptable outcome at the time as the project was only 2 weeks from commencing onsite and the client could ill afford to wait a further two months in order to gain the necessary consent, notwithstanding the additional costs this would incur.

In order to mitigate against this delay, MGI worked closely with the engineers and principal contractor to come up with a solution that would allow the existing beams to be retained in situ and as such avoid the need for party wall consent, ensuring that the client’s project could commence, and more importantly, handover within the agreed program.

The steps to gaining Party Wall consent.

The first step to gaining party wall consent is, wherever possible, to speak directly with the neighbour to advise them of your proposed works and assure them of any concern they may have. Following this conversation, a written notice should be issued to the neighbour, outlining your proposal and asking for their consent to the works. In order for consent to be achieved the neighbour must then issue a written response within 14 days of the notice (either a signed copy of the initial notice or a written letter of consent) confirming their acceptance of your proposal.

Although Your neighbours can’t stop you from making changes to your property, that are within the law, they are still within their rights to refuse party wall consent. It should also be noted that if you do not receive a response to your initial notice, this cannot be construed as permission to proceed.

Neighbours are also able to serve a “counter notice” requesting that additional works be undertaken at the same time as your initial proposal. A counter notice should be issued within 1 month of the initial notice.

Assuming that no counter notice is issued and the neighbour either doesn’t respond or refuses consent the next step would be to begin the dispute resolution process.

A building surveyor should be appointed, either one surveyor to serve both yourself and your neighbour or the neighbour can appoint their own surveyor to protect their own interests.  The surveyor would then produce a “Party Wall Award” which would outline –

  • what work should happen.
  • how and when it will be carried out.
  • who will pay for which part and how much will be paid (including surveyor’s fees)

If you or the neighbour dispute the Party Wall award this can then be appealed at the county court within 14 days of receiving the award. The preference here is that both you and the neighbour can come to agreement without getting to this stage however it is not unheard of.


Once consent is achieved, either via Party Wall consent or a Party Wall award, your responsibilities do not end when the project commences on site. It is imperative that your contractors avoid causing unnecessary disruption to the neighbour and take all necessary and reasonable measures to protect the neighbours property from damage for the duration of the works( doubly important if they refused consent in the first instance) and pay for any damaged caused to the neighbour’s property in the undertaking of your works.

Whilst works are ongoing the neighbour is required to provide access to his building for surveyors and contractors to undertake the building works where required, although a 14 day notice must be issued prior to accessing their property. Contractors cannot just knock on the door on a daily basis hoping to gain access.


If you`d like to know more about the party wall act and how MGI can assist in your project please get in touch.

man in black jacket and black pants sitting on concrete wall