Party wall act

A loft conversion will always require a party wall letter to you neighbours and we shall take care of this for you to ensure a smooth project for everyone .

Loft conversions are one of the most typical forms of construction work that fall within the realm of the Party Wall etc. Act 1996.

If a building owner owned a property that shares a party wall with an adjoining owner, commonly, this property being a terraced or semi-detached house, when they plan their proposed loft construction works, they will need to go through the formal procedures as set out by the Party Wall etc. Act 1996.

Loft conversions while relatively low risk on the spectrum and conventional in terms of construction complexity, do carry with them the formal requirement to serve a Party Wall Notice upon an adjoining owner prior to the planned works commencing.

A loft conversion specifically will fall under a couple of different sections of the Party Wall etc. Act 1996, as follows.

Exposing a Party Wall

Firstly, when the building owner removes the roof coverings to their property, thereby facilitating a working space for the planned loft construction works to take place, they will effectively be undertaking works that fall within the realm of Section 2(2)(n) of the Act as follows:

to expose a party wall or party structure hitherto enclosed subject to providing adequate weathering

Under the Party Wall etc. Act 1996, in order to minimise the risk associated with weather ingress and water penetration to the now exposed party wall, the Party Wall etc. Act and ultimately the agreement of a Party Wall Award will likely set out that the building owner needs to install some form of temporary weathering to that wall.

Temporary weathering often coming by the way of impervious sheeting fixed directly to the party wall during the course of the planned works.

Alternatively, if the building owner intends to have a comprehensive scaffolding tower with a sealed roof.  The introduction of this scaffold will equally ensure there is a proper weathering solution in place thereby stopping any chance of weather ingress and rain penetration to the adjoining owner’s property and party wall.

Cutting into the Party Wall

The second section of the Party Wall etc. Act 1996 that comes into play when loft conversion works are taking place is Section 2(2)(f) of the Act as follows:

to cut into a party structure for any purpose (which may be or include the purpose of inserting a damp proof course)

This section of the Party Wall etc. Act 1996 will specifically cover the planned insertions of the steel beams into the party wall.

The steel beams ultimately giving the new structure support and enabling the pitch of the roof to be picked up by the ridge beam, while equally allowing the new weight of the room to be picked up by the beams supporting the planned floor.

During the course of the insertion of these beams into the party wall, the building owner’s contractor will need to carefully cut pockets or openings into the brick party wall itself to accommodate a sound base for the beams to then be installed on, those beams likely then resting on padstones or spreader plates.

The act of cutting into the party wall is what falls within the realm of the Act.

The requirements of the Party Wall etc. Act 1996 and ultimately a Party Wall Award is more often than not likely to stipulate that the cutting in is done using hand tools, or alternatively non-percussive tools such as a oscillating saw drill.

The reason behind such requirement, is that the vibration caused by the percussive works to the party wall reduces overall vibration.

The reduction in vibration more often than not leading to an incredibly low rate of damage to the adjoining owner’s property and internal finishes to walls and ceilings.

Another typical inclusion within a Party Wall Award when a building owner is planning on undertaking loft construction works, will be for the adjoining owner’s open chimney breasts or flues to be carefully sealed and covered.

This will ensure that dust and debris that is caused by fibrous and loose cement and soot within chimney breasts on the adjoining owner’s side, ultimately do not find themselves passing into the adjoining owner’s property and causing expensive and intrusive cleaning.