Many homeowners unwittingly break the law when carrying out building or alteration works because they are unaware of the Party Wall etc. Act 1996.

This Act requires homeowners under certain circumstances to serve Notice on their neighbour of their intention to carry out building works. Examples of work likely to trigger a Notice include: building an extension within 3 metres of a neighbouring property; loft conversion works; cutting of roof flashings into party walls; excavation for drainage works etc.

The Act does not simply apply to houses but could also affect flats if a block is being extended or internal structural alterations are proposed.

Many homeowners believe it is sufficient to get Planning and Building Regulation approval from the council but these consents do not confer any rights under the Party Wall Act. If in doubt, homeowners wishing to carry out extension or alteration works should take advice from a party wall surveyor who is a member of the Portsmouth Property Association.

Neil A Hawkins, FRICS – party wall surveyor at Chandler Hawkins, Chartered Surveyors and Secretary of Portsmouth Property Association