Skip to content

Press release

16 MAR 2022

Avoid costly neighbour disputes with guidance on party walls and extensions

RICS has today published new guidance on how homeowners can build their dream property through alterations like new extensions, but without unnecessarily upsetting the neighbours or triggering a potentially expensive dispute along the way.

As the RICS Residential Market Survey continues to report a shortage of new homes for sale, many homeowners will be looking at new ways to improve their living space including how to renovate their current property instead of moving.

The free impartial advice guide is for anyone looking to consider construction work to extend or retrofit their property and to help them understand the rules around dealing with construction around or on boundaries, also known as Party Walls.

With the average home extension costing between £15,000 to £125,000*, and new incentives for homeowners to reduce the carbon our homes produce it’s important that owners know this type of construction is covered by legislation, The Party Wall etc. Act 1996. Anyone in England and Wales will need to make sure that they follow specific procedures when undertaking building work that involves construction or excavation on a boundary, adjoining and shared walls or close to neighbouring buildings.

The new guide not only gives advice for building owners, reminding them of their legal duties as well as providing advice for adjoining owners or occupiers, but highlights the need to use chartered professionals who understand but the law and latest construction techniques and can help keep disruptions to a minimum. For when tempers possibly fray it also lists how to deal with a dispute and details how experts will be appointed and how cases will be settled.  

James Kavanagh, RICS Head of Land and Resources Standards, commented:

“The pandemic made many people review how they use their home space, and many will have looked to extend their homes to meet homeworking demands. Chartered surveyors play a central role in supporting people looking to make home improvements. As more people look to extend their existing home, or indeed improve the energy efficiency of a property, this new consumer guidance sets out clear guidelines to help consumers avoid falling out with their neighbours, protect them against the risk of rogue traders and reduce the risk of a dispute.”

Michael Cooper FRICS, Director – Head of Neighbourly matters and Building surveying at Coopers Building Surveyors Ltd, comments:

“Building an extension or significant alternations can be very stressful not least for the owner doing the work but also the neighbours who might be affected. The Party Wall etc Act 1996 is designed to enable works and lessen the tensions between neighbours and it provides a simple dispute resolution protocol handled by chartered surveyors, architects, and engineers. In the right hands this Act can keep the peace between neighbours and reduce tension and concerns to a minimum before works commence. Building an extension is not simple and requires robust construction knowledge for successful application of the procedure. The procedure is meant to be dealt with by capable trained RICS surveyors or other chartered individuals and property owners are advised to consider choosing surveyors wisely as the Act doesn't define the credentials of those acting as surveyors.”



Notes for editors:


About RICS

We are RICS. Everything we do is designed to effect positive change in the built and natural environments. Through our respected global standards, leading professional progression and our trusted data and insight, we promote and enforce the highest professional standards in the development and management of land, real estate, construction and infrastructure.

Our work with others provides a foundation for confident markets, pioneers better places to live and work and is a force for positive social impact.

For more information:

Alexandra Booth

Rebecca Hunt