Party Walls – Your rights as a Building Owner

Harrison Clarke is a leading firm of chartered surveyors in the Hampshire area, with a dedicated team specialising in Party Wall matters. 

In this article, we share the answers to questions that our clients commonly ask us.

Key Points

  • Building Owner is the person who owns land and intends to carry out work on it under the Party Wall Act.
  • All Building Owners must be named on the notice when served.
  • Building Owners have rights to carry out repairs, modifications, and underpinning on Party Walls under the Act.
  • Minor works like shelving and replastering may not require notices unless they impact structural integrity.
  • Building a new Party Wall on the boundary requires notifying neighbors; building wholly on your land still requires notice.
  • Excavation within three or six meters of a neighbor’s property requires written notice.
  • Foundations on neighbor’s land possible if necessary, but justifications required.
  • Rights of access for building walls, raising walls, or excavating for foundations, depending on the situation.

Who is the Building Owner defined as under the Party Wall Act?

The Party Wall etc. Act 1996 defines a Building Owner as an owner of land who wishes to exercise their rights under this Act – the person intending to carry out work on the land that they own. It is worth noting that there can be more than one Building Owner. 

When notice is served, it is important that you make sure all Building Owners are named on the notice.

If I want to carry out work to an existing Party Wall, what rights do I have?

The Party Wall etc. Act 1996 provides Building Owners with additional rights that go beyond common law rights. Under section 2 of the Act, the most common rights used by Building Owners are:

  • Carrying out repairs to a Party Wall.
  • Cutting into a Party Wall to support a beam.
  • Raising the height or increasing the thickness of a Party Wall.
  • Cutting into a Party Wall to insert a flashing or damp proof course.
  • Demolishing the existing Party Wall and rebuilding it.
  • Cutting off any projections which prevent them from completing their works.
  • Underpinning the entire thickness of a Party Wall.
  • Weather proofing and protecting a Party Wall which will be exposed by their works.

What about minor works – installing shelving, wall units and renewing plaster?

Works such as drilling into a Party Wall to install shelving or replastering are considered too minor to require Party Wall Notices. The key point for you to consider is whether your proposed works could have an impact on the structural integrity of the Party Wall or your neighbour’s property. 

It can be a complex area to make a decision on, so you should always seek the advice of an experienced Party Wall surveyor to help you determine whether your works are notifiable.

I want to build a new wall on the boundary. What rights do I have?

If you intend to build a new Party Wall or Party Fence Wall on the boundary line, you must inform your neighbour by written notice. Your neighbour does not have to agree to this as you have no right to build the wall astride the boundary and on your neighbour’s land. 

You may decide to avoid this potential outcome by building a wall up to the boundary line, but wholly on your land, in which case you must still inform your neighbour by written notice. 

In this scenario, your neighbour cannot prevent you from building this wall as long as it is built completely on your land.

I want to excavate close to my neighbour. What rights do I have?

Under the Party Wall Act etc. 1996, you have a right to excavate close to your neighbour’s property. 

However, you must inform your neighbour by written notice if you plan to excavate within three metres of their building or structure and that excavation will go deeper than your neighbour’s foundations.

You must also inform your neighbour by written notice if you plan to excavate within six metres of your neighbour’s building or structure, and where your excavation and building works will cut a line drawn downwards at 45 degrees from the bottom of your neighbour’s foundations. This is most likely if you carry out very deep foundations such as piling.

Can my foundations extend to my neighbour’s land?

You do have a right to construct foundations on your neighbour’s land, but only if necessary. 

In most cases, foundation details can be designed in such a way that this is not necessary. If you do propose to construct the foundations on your neighbour’s land, you will need to inform them in your written notice. However, be prepared to justify why it is necessary. If it is proven otherwise, you may need to re-design your foundations.

What are my rights of access to my neighbour’s land?

If a notice is served under Section 1 of the Act to build a new wall along a boundary, this can be either astride the boundary or wholly on your land. You have a right of access to your neighbour’s land to build that wall. 

Bear in mind, though, that if your proposal was set back from the boundary, you will not have a right of access for building this wall. If a notice is served under Section 2 to raise, or demolish and rebuild, a Party Wall, you have a right of access to your neighbour’s land to enable you to build this wall. 

If a notice is served under Section 6 of the Act, in order to excavate and construct your foundations you may have a right to access if it is necessary to protect the neighbouring land. This could be through hoardings and support, for example.

How Harrison Clarke can help

Our experienced and helpful team of specialist Party Wall surveyors at Harrison Clarke will always make time to answer any other questions you may have, talk you through the likely process and guide you through the Party Wall process as smoothly and as painlessly as possible.

We also have a range of videos talking through various surveying services, including various aspects of Party Wall matters. You can access them via our website or our YouTube channel

How you can contact Harrison Clarke

Call our friendly, expert and highly qualified surveyors on 023 8155 0051, or email us at We would welcome the opportunity to help with any queries or needs you may have.

At the time of writing, we have a total of 69 reviews across Trustpilot and Google. We are proud to say that they are all 5 star ratings across the board.

Discover something you would like to know more about?

Faye Williams, party wall and building surveyor at Harrison Clarke chartered surveyors.

About the author

Faye Williams,
BSc (Hons) MFPWS Senior

Surveyor & Winner of Young Property Person of the Year 2023

Faye joined Harrison Clarke in 2018. Faye found an interest in Party Wall surveying, and became a Member of the Faculty of Party Wall Surveyors in 2022.

Since then, Faye has set out a revolutionary approach to party wall instructions, by focusing on people and relationships, backed up by expert knowledge. Faye’s approach has saved building owners £1,000s in unnecessary party wall fees.