Party Wall Act Section 6 | Excavation & Notices | RICS


Are you planning to carry out excavations near a shared boundary with a neighbour? If so, you need to understand the Party Wall Act Section 6 and its implications. This in-depth guide will walk you through the critical aspects of the Party Wall Act Section 6, focusing on excavations, notices, and the roles of the building and adjoining owners. We'll also answer common questions about the Act and its related procedures.

Section 6 of the Party Wall Act 1996 is a crucial part of the legislation that deals with adjacent excavation and construction activities in the UK. This section of the act outlines the legal requirements and processes for property owners who wish to excavate or build a new wall or structure within close proximity to an adjoining owner's property. The Act covers various party wall matters, including the serving of notices, counter-notices, and the role of party wall surveying.

Under Section 6 of the Act, property owners are required to serve a notice to the adjoining owner when planning to excavate within 3 metres or 6 metres measured horizontally from any part of the structure of the adjoining owner. The notice period varies depending on the type of work involved and the depth of the proposed excavation. The Act also outlines the rights and obligations of both the building owner and the adjoining owner, with provisions for serving counter-notices and the appointment of surveyors to resolve disputes.

The Party Wall Act Section 6 is applicable in various situations, including the construction of new walls, external walls of buildings, and garden walls. It does not apply to some cases, such as when a wall or structure is not considered a party wall or party fence wall under the Act. The Act includes specific provisions for existing party walls and structures, as well as the rights and obligations of both parties concerning the direction of excavation, the bottom of the foundations, and the face of the external wall.

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Party Wall etc Act 1996 – Guide on Section 6, Excavation & Notices, Harding Chartered Surveyors

Excavations and Section 6 of the Party Wall Act 1996


What's Covered by the Act?


Section 6 of the Party Wall etc. Act 1996 covers excavations near party walls and structures. These include:

  • Excavations within 3 meters of any part of a building or structure of an adjoining owner, with the bottom of the new foundations extending deeper than the existing foundations.
  • Excavations within 6 meters of a neighbouring structure, measured horizontally, where the proposed excavation intersects a plane drawn downwards at a 45° angle from the bottom of the existing foundations.

When is the Act Not Applicable?


The Act does not apply to garden walls, fences, or other structures not classified as party walls or party fence walls.

Party Wall Notice Period Requirements and Procedures


When to Serve Notice


A building owner proposing excavations covered by the Act must serve a notice to the adjoining owner(s) at least one month before commencing work. This notice period allows the parties to discuss and agree on the proposed excavations or appoint a surveyor if they cannot reach an agreement.

What the Notice Must Include


The notice must contain:

  1. The name and address of the building owner
  2. A description of the proposed excavation work
  3. The date the work is planned to begin
  4. A statement that the notice is served under Section 6 of the Party Wall etc. Act 1996

How to Serve the Notice


The building owner can serve the notice by delivering it personally or sending it via post. The adjoining owner has 14 days to respond with either consent or a counter-notice.




Party Wall etc Act 1996 – Guide on Section 6, Excavation & Notices, Harding Chartered Surveyors

Roles and Responsibilities of Building Owners and Adjoining Owners


Building Owner's Obligations


The building owner must:

  • Serve a valid notice before starting any excavation work
  • Not cause any unnecessary inconvenience to the adjoining owner
  • Compensate the adjoining owner for any damage resulting from the excavation work
  • Comply with the provisions of the Act, including any party wall awards or agreements

Adjoining Owner's Rights and Obligations


The adjoining owner can:

  • Consent to the notice, in which case the building owner can proceed with the work
  • Serve a counter-notice requesting additional works or modifications to the proposed excavation
  • Appoint a surveyor if they do not agree with the proposed work

Party Wall etc Act 1996 – Guide on Section 6, Excavation & Notices, Harding Chartered Surveyors
Party Wall etc Act 1996 – Guide on Section 6, Excavation & Notices, Harding Chartered Surveyors

Frequently Asked Questions


What happens if the notice is not served or is invalid?

The adjoining owner can seek a court injunction to halt the work or claim damages if the building owner proceeds without serving a valid notice.

Can a building owner appeal a party wall award?

Yes, either party can appeal a party wall award within 14 days of its service by applying to the county court.

What if the excavation work causes damage to the adjoining owner's property?

The building owner is responsible for repairing any damage caused by the excavation work or compensating the adjoining owner for the cost of repairs.

Is a party wall surveyor always necessary?

No, a party wall surveyor is only required if the parties cannot reach an agreement or if the adjoining owner serves a counter-notice.

What if the building owner does not comply with the provisions of the Act?

The adjoining owner can seek legal remedies, such as an injunction or damages, to enforce compliance with the Act.

Can the adjoining owner prevent the building owner from carrying out the excavation work?

No, the adjoining owner cannot prevent the work if it falls within the scope of the Act and a valid notice has been served. However, they can influence the terms of the work through counter-notices or party wall awards.

Conclusion


In conclusion, Section 6 of the Party Wall Act 1996 specifically addresses adjacent excavation and construction activities in the UK. This provision comes into play when a building owner proposes to excavate, or excavate for and erect a building or structure, within a distance of three metres measured horizontally from any part of a building or structure of an adjoining owner. It is essential for property owners to have a thorough understanding of their rights and obligations under this Act, as this will help to prevent delays, additional costs, and potential damage to the adjoining owner's property, such as the external wall or the foundations of the building.

Navigating the Party Wall Act Section 6 can be a complex process, but understanding its key aspects and procedures is crucial to ensure a smooth and legally compliant excavation project. By serving a valid notice and engaging in open communication with adjoining owners, building owners can minimize disputes and ensure that their excavation work proceeds as planned.

Harding Chartered Surveyors can provide valuable assistance to clients with enquiries concerning Section 6 of the Party Wall Act 1996. By offering expert advice and guidance on the legal aspects of excavating and constructing close to an external wall or the foundations of a building, they can help clients ensure their projects proceed safely and in compliance with relevant regulations. Additionally, Harding Chartered Surveyors can provide support on matters related to strengthening or safeguarding the foundations of neighbouring properties during construction works, further ensuring that clients adhere to the requirements of the Act.



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Party Wall etc Act 1996 – Guide on Section 6, Excavation & Notices, Harding Chartered Surveyors

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With our professional help, you can simplify the process of altering a party wall while complying with the law and minimising the risk of disputes and costly setbacks. We can help leaseholders, homeowners, landlords and investors save time, money and effort, and we always provide free quotes upfront.

London Party Wall Surveyors help prevent and resolve any disputes arising from changes you plan to make to your property that could affect theirs. This includes party walls, shared boundaries and excavation work within 3-6 metres of their property. With our help, you can improve your home and increase its value, stress-free. Harding Chartered Surveyors are specialist Party Wall surveyors, please contact us today to find out more about our services or get some advice.