Side Extensions & Party Walls
Tips on designs & how your neighbour can be your biggest ally in delivering the project you want.
If you are looking to extend your property to the party wall (the wall between your house and your neighbours) it is worth considering talking to your neighbour as they might be able to collaborate with you, helping you get the project you really want.
Typically the new extension and party wall will be built inside your plot (lets call you Number 25). In some cases, the owner of the adjoining plot may decide that they want the wall built astride the boundary in exchange for the right to use the wall at a later stage for their own extension. In this case, No.25 would pay for the wall and foundations and gutter.
Advantages of building astride of the boundary
By allowing to build astride the boundary, your neighbour (lets call them Number 27) has acquired the right to use the wall. The advantages are multiple:
When Number 27 decides to use the wall, they will pay 50% of the wall and foundations' cost back to you. In other words, the two neighbours share the cost of the wall rather than paying twice for the same construction element.
Furthermore, both properties will benefit from reducing the thickness of the construction along the boundary. A single party wall will measure about 350mm in thickness, which is approximately 130mm wider than the typical brick boundary wall that usually separates properties. In the region of 750mm thickness, a double party wall will reduce the width of both properties by 180mm on each side.
A party wall astride of the boundary will be in continuity with the existing wall separating the two properties, and will be more consistent with the construction of the house. This will result in a simpler structure and more streamlined interiors.
It is possible to have more say over the height and shape of the wall. The planning department mostly decides on this matter, but two neighbours who agree on the design of their extension can submit a joint application, which will allow more freedom on the height and shape of the party wall.
A single party wall is much easier to build. This is particularly useful to the neighbour that is not yet extending their house. Once the party wall is built inside the building owner's plot, the adjoining owner will have to agree and solve a few construction issues when erecting their own wall. For example:
Sectional hit and miss bay foundations may be required.
A weatherproofing flashing detail at roof level.
Some form of weatherproofing seal at the junction of the two walls
The adjoining owner will likely need to install a slip membrane between the building owner's existing foundations and their proposed foundations.
In the short term, the adjoining owner will lose about 100mm of garden space and allow foundations to run even further inside the plot.
A few design considerations will be needed for both properties. The adjoining owner will be encouraged to think about their extension, and this may take some time.
The building owner will need to consider more items and factor in more time when planning the extension. The design in the first stages becomes a bit more complex.
Of course both parties should consider both options carefully, but my advise is usually to work in collaboration with your neighbour to try and figure out a way of sharing this little bit of responsibility and design, to gain considerable advantages in the long run for you both.
I hope this has helped, if you would like to discuss a potential project with us do get in touch. We would be happy to talk through some ideas or share past projects that would be of interest to you.