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Property Surveying Blog

Written by Bradley Mackenzie

In this blog post I am going to be discussing the type of considerations that need to be taken into account when a leaseholder is obtaining a Licence to Alter from his freeholder.

Given that most leaseholders will live in a block shared with other owners/leaseholders, it is common that the contractor will gain access to the flat of the leaseholder who is undertaking the works through communal areas such as hallways, stairs, lifts or corridors.

With any construction works, it is expected that a fair amount of dirt, dust, debris and mess will arise. Therefore, as part of the Licence to Alter agreement process, the communal areas will need to be carefully considered to ensure that they are kept in a clean, fair and normal state, but also that they are protected against any damage, which can inevitably come from the carting of materials, tools and debris through those areas.

Floor Protection

The first point I would recommend considering, is protection to the floor surfaces.  The best way to do this, in my opinion, is through the use of a self-adhesive floor film, or shield. This type of surface protector sticks to the carpet beneath and forms an impervious layer between the floor and the workmen or materials above.  It stops dust from penetrating the floor and ensures that at the end of the job the plastic sheet can be easily peeled off and all the rubbish and debris taken with it.

Wall Protection

I would also recommend that heavy-duty polythene sheeting is masked and held in place to the lower sections of the walls, commonly this is below dado rails.  By ensuring there is an impervious layer between the floor and the wall, you are ensuring that any wheelbarrows or sacks of rubble that transfer through the communal areas do not rub or scuff walls which are often painted.  However, you are also ensuring that workmen themselves do not brush against these walls as they travel inside and outside of the site.

Inspections

It is also advisable to have incremental inspections of the communal areas, for example at the end of each working week.  This will ensure that any scuffs or issues that have occurred are easily dealt with and will avoid issues with fellow leaseholders, and the freeholder. A good example of this is on a job that I was recently involved in, whereby the contractor had actually covered the fire alarm switch with the heavy-duty polythene sheeting, obscuring it from view.  This was noted in our weekly meeting, and it was quickly adjusted so that the fire alarm was clearly visible.

Licences to Alter can be problematic at times, however in my opinion through careful consideration for both leaseholders and freeholders, can often be dealt with in a pragmatic and simple manner.

If you are planning on undertaking some construction works to your property and believe a Licence to Alter may be required, give me a call now and I will be happy to discuss how we can be of assistance to you.