Published on December 6th, 2016 | by Guest


The Pyramus & Thisbe Club: All about party walls

If you’re thinking of building an extension to your home, or making some refurbishments, your neighbours – and the party wall that divides you – will undoubtedly play an important part in the process.

Before starting any work close to the boundary of a neighbour’s property, according to the Party Wall Act 1996 you have to give them two month’s written notice before ‘notifiable work’ begins. If you don’t, your project could end up costing you a lot more.

‘Notifiable work’ means: Building work that affects a party wall or a boundary line, or excavations within three or six metres of a neighbouring property including extensions and loft and basement conversions.

You don’t necessarily need planning permission to serve notice, and once notice has been served you’re allowed up to one year to begin building.

Pyramus & Thisbe Club

The Pyramus & Thisbe Club (P&T) was established in 1974 by several leading party wall surveyors. It is an organisation for professionals with a particular interest in matters relating to the Party Wall Act of 1996. P&T aims to promote best professional practice in the application of the Party Wall Act and to inform members of current legislation, amendments thereto, and the procedures that need to be followed.

The Club takes its name from two leading characters in Shakespeare’s, ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’: Pyramus and Thisbe. They are lovers – separated by a wall – who come to a sad end because of an ongoing dispute between their fathers.

When P&T first came into being in the early 1970s, members would meet in the Café Royal in London and this tradition continued until its closure in 2008.

Although membership was originally limited to just 100, the Club grew substantially because of pressures to provide a large enough venue to accommodate the many junior surveyors signing up and where Continuing Professional Development could take place.

The Club now meet at St James’ Court Hotel, Westminster and host talks and various events. Their website provides useful information, including a directory of party wall professionals and a detailed explanation of the Act as it currently stands.

Party Wall legislation history

P&T played an important role in shaping the present Party Wall Act of 1996. Many members of the Pyramus & Thisbe Club were actually in the House when the Bill was introduced into the House of Lords – some were even present during the committee stages, during which amendments were passed. The Party Wall Bill was sponsored through Parliament by John Lytton, The Earl of Lytton, who was a past Chairman of the Club.

Once the 1996 Act legislation was extended to include all of England and Wales, P&T branches opened up throughout the country. There are now 15 branches in total.

A shortened version of the Party Wall Act

A Building Owner proposing to carry out any works to an adjoining leasehold and/or freehold property must give the Adjoining Owner at least 2 month’s written notice of their intent to carry out the works. Thereafter, one of the following procedures must be adopted:

  1. the Adjoining Owner agrees and consents to the proposed work;
  2. the Adjoining Owner disagrees and both sides appoint their own Surveyor to settle all differences and produce an ‘Award’, or ruling, that sets out the works proposed;
  3. the Adjoining Owner disagrees and both parties appoint one Surveyor termed ‘the Agreed Surveyor’ who will produce an Award on the same basis;
  4. the Adjoining Owner fails to respond, whereafter a Surveyor may be appointed for him and the matter proceeds as in 2 above;
  5. when two separate Surveyors are involved, immediately they are appointed, they select an additional surveyor, termed ‘the Third Surveyor’, to be called in to act if one of them becomes unable to proceed, or to mediate any differences that arise between them, or that might arise between the Building and Adjoining Owners.


Article credits: This article was provided by Dakota Murphey (BA Hons) marketing graduate, in a project with Southdown Surveyors.

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