Can you renovate a home that has a party wall?

On Behalf of | Dec 8, 2021 | Firm News

If you are trying to buy a home in Hartford’s red hot housing market, you already may realize you may have to make some sacrifices. Purchasing a fixer-upper rowhouse or condo may allow you to switch from renter to homeowner without spending a fortune.

Many multi-unit buildings have party walls. A party wall, which usually sits on the property line, is the wall that separates two independently owned residences. Because you likely own only half of the party wall, there may be some limitations on any renovations you can undertake.

Read the party wall agreement before closing

Party walls often provide structural support to the entire building. Otherwise, they may serve as fire or sound barriers. Either way, the party wall in the home you are thinking about buying probably has an existing agreement. The party wall agreement outlines both your and your neighbor’s wall-related rights and responsibilities.

Because the party wall agreement may limit the renovations you can perform on your home, you must read it thoroughly before your real estate closing. If the agreement is too restrictive, you may even want to pass on the property. On the other hand, you may be able to negotiate changes to the agreement with your neighbor.

Understand your maintenance and repair obligations

Regardless of whether you can renovate your property, you must understand your party wall-associated maintenance and repair obligations. Often, each property owner has a legal duty to keep his or her side of the wall in good condition. If your part of the wall requires repairs or ongoing care, you may have to foot the bill.

Ultimately, because your party wall agreement may be full of legalese, it may be advisable to review it with your real estate attorney to better understand your renovation options.