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Property Surveying Blog
Written by Karim El Shenawi-Ali

Here at Berry Lodge Surveyors we specialise in Party Wall Surveying. One of the most common types of notifiable Party Wall works I have dealt with is a wall that is being built up to the boundary line, but wholly on the land of the builder owner. This is frequently seen in the form of the flank wall of a rear or side extension.

Assuming the wall is being built up to or astride the line of junction, also known as the boundary line, during construction the building owner’s contractor will likely want to gain access onto the adjoining owner’s property in order to construct the flank wall.

Under the Party Wall etc. Act 1996, the building owner has the legal right to obtain access onto an adjoining owner’s land in order to construct the flank wall.

Gaining access onto the adjoining owner’s property allows the building owner to complete the construction of the wall in a more straightforward fashion and will ultimately ensure a much neater final finish.

Here is an example of a flank wall to a rear extension that was constructed through gaining access onto the adjoining owner’s property.

Access Wall ConstructionAs Party Wall Surveyors, one of our roles is to protect both the builder owner’s property and the adjoining owner’s property and aim to avoid a future dispute or damages.

In doing this, if we agree access onto an adjoining owner’s property within the Party Wall Award, we will always instruct that the builder owner’s contractor takes the appropriate protective precautions during the course of the access.

One of the most common conditions we write into an Award when allowing access is to ensure the contractor places hoarding, which is usually a solid 2 metre high timber hoarding on the adjoining owner’s land. The installation of this hoarding not only screens off the adjoining owner’s property from the building site, it also ensures that both the building owner and the adjoining owner’s properties remains separate from one and other.

Installation of hoarding ensures that the adjoining owner can still use their garden or property without any visual distractions and protects their property from any dirt or debris associated with the construction. Such a condition ultimately puts the adjoining owner at ease through the course of the necessary access and importantly ensures the protection of their property is preserved.

However, there is always two sides of the coin and in some cases a building owner undertaking the construction works may find that the adjoining owner refuses access onto their property.

In the event that access is refused, the next alternative would be for the contractor to proceed with “overhand” construction.

Overhand construction is achieved by the contractor standing wholly on the building owner’s property and constructing the wall row by row, while leaning over the adjoining owner’s property.

Unfortunately, the result of performing overhand construction of the a wall will in most cases result in a poor finish, as the wall will not be properly pointed.

Here is an example of a flank wall to a rear extension that was constructed overhand construction. Non Access Wall Construction

Not only is the wall far less visually pleasing, as the wall is poorly pointed it can lead to further future problems, for example the gaps in the brickwork can be vulnerable to damp penetration, pests and even insects nesting.

From an adjoining owner’s perspective, as the wall will face their garden, having such a poorly finished wall isn’t appealing to the eye.

Considering all of the potential issues that overhand construction causes, here at Berry Lodge Surveyors we strongly recommend that adjoining owners provide building owners with access, as you can see it helps avoid both poor finishes and future problems.

In simple terms, if an adjoining owner allows access for a short period of time during the course of the construction, in the long term they will end up with a well finished wall.