Party Walls Leicestershire​​

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Party Wall Surveying Across the Midlands & Further South​​

The Party Wall etc. Act 1996

A Brief History

Building statutes and regulations have a long history, with London being the traditional epicentre of change. Fire was always a hazard among the tightly packed housing conditions in the capital. Subsequent to a major fire in 1212, thatched roofs were banned in London, but the use of timber framing remained popular, and jettied buildings overhanging narrow streets were a common sight.
The Great Fire of London, 1666, in which 80% of the city was destroyed, led to the London Rebuilding Act of 1667. It was the first Building Act to carry the provision that surveyors should enforce its regulations. Streets must now be wide enough to act as a fire-break, it decreed. All houses were to be built in brick or stone. And there were specifications for wall thicknesses and limits set for the number of storeys.
Act of Parliament, The Party Wall etc Act 1996
Nearly two centuries later, further consolidation and amendments were laid down with the appearance of the Metropolitan Building Acts of 1844 and 1855; the London Building Acts of 1894 and 1930; and the London Building Acts (Amendment) Act of 1939. By the time of the 1939 Act, the mechanism for resolving disputes had evolved, from the mid nineteenth century, into something close to what we have today.

What Happened in 1996?

Before 1996, courts were becoming more and more clogged with disputes between neighbours when it came to erecting new buildings, extensions, etc. A major driving force behind the re-enactment was the aim that the dispute resolution procedures would be used more effectively, and that such cases would be dealt with out of court. This has, in fact, been the result, with the vast majority of disputes being settled satisfactorily by building owners, adjoining owners, and their surveyors.
Party Wall Act | Surveying
Another major change was in geographical scope. The 1939 Act and its predecessors had applied only to London, but the updated Party Wall etc. Act 1996 applies to the whole of England and Wales.

The Act Today

Some would argue that the Act is flawed and needs to be rewritten. It's true that there are differences of opinion among surveyors over the interpretation of certain sections or sub-sections, and that some cases still end up in court, but, largely, the Party Wall etc. Act 1996 "does what it says on the tin": it enables building works to go ahead and it resolves disputes between contentious neighbours.  
You can view online, download, print, etc. the following documents from gov.uk websites:
The Party Wall etc. Act 1996
Government Explanatory Booklet

How Can Party Walls Leicestershire Help?

To further discuss any Party Wall issues, please contact Party Walls Leicestershire on 0333 9000 310 for a free 30-minute consultation. You can also contact us on 07470 347849. If you prefer, you can make an inquiry using the contact form on the Contact page. Either way, if it sounds as if Party Wall Notices or any of our other services are indicated, you will also be offered a free initial site visit and assessment. For a full schedule of our services, please see Services & Fees .