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Property Surveying Blog

October 16, 2015

Party Wall Access

Written by Beau Davies

In this Party Wall blog post we will be discussing the topic of access and when it applies to the Party Wall etc Act 1996.

 Party Wall access tends to apply on construction jobs whereby the building owner intends to build a wall up to, or astride the line of junction, also commonly referred to as the boundary line.

Here at Berry Lodge we commonly find that this type of construction is the flank wall of the building owner’s proposed extension.

The majority of properties in London with gardens are separated by one of two things.

The first is usually a fence of some kind, whether it be timber or a similar material.

The second is usually a solid brick wall, fairly typical to Victorian, Edwardian and more modern properties where brick construction has come back into fashion.

With space being in such short supply in London, when a building owner plans to undertake their extension they will likely aim to maximise the usable space.

This usually means the extension’s flank walls are built right up to the boundary line. It is here that the access onto the adjoining owner’s land becomes applicable.

The Party Wall etc Act 1996 gives a building owner, or his contractors, the right of access onto an adjoining owner’s land. Providing of course that the proper and correct Party Wall procedures have been followed and a Party Wall Award is in place.

The Party Wall Award, which is also commonly referred to as a Party Wall Agreement not only governs the Party Wall work, it also deals with points such as access.

Party Wall access is by its very nature is disruptive to the adjoining owner, after all, the adjoining owner will in effect be legally obligated to allow the contractor access onto their land for a set period of time, thereby enabling that contractor to properly construct the building owner’s flank wall.

So how can a Party Wall Surveyor help?

Put simply it is part of a Party Wall Surveyor’s role to ensure that the proposed access is fully considered and is the least amount of risk possible to the adjoining owner’s property.

Although no job is the same, nor are two properties. There are usually a number of points that will always apply when it comes to Party Wall access.

The area of access will always be fully hoarded off.

Not only does this ensure that the adjoining owner’s garden is screened off from the work, it also means the contractor is restricted to only accessing the area within the hoarding. Finally it means that the transfer of dust and debris is significantly reduced as it is in effect trapped within the hoarded area.

Access will always be restricted to a set period of time. This means that the contractor will only have access for the amount of time it actually takes to complete the Party Wall work that has been agreed within the Party Wall Award.

Party Wall Hoarding

In practice this means that the access will be restricted to the reasonable amount of time it takes to build the flank wall of the extension, not the entire extension! In our experience we find that access tends to be restricted to about 4 – 8 weeks.

The benefit of this is that it means the contractor will have to prioritise the construction of the flank wall, thereby reducing the nuisance to the adjoining owner.

Hoarding will usually be alarmed. This means that the adjoining owner’s property is securely protected.

 

Access will always be subject to a Party Wall Award. This not only ensures the access is subject to surveyor input, ensuring points, such as the ones discussed in this blog are agreed and considered, but more importantly gives the adjoining owner a point of contact in the event of issue, as they can then get in touch with the surveyor whom agreed the Party Wall Award and ensure the issue is addressed.

Party Wall Access Hoarding Any plants, bushes or other vegetation will usually have to be carefully potted or relocated by a gardener. This ensures that the adjoining owner’s plants are not destroyed during the course of access.

Party Wall Access can take many forms, from hoarding, to cantilevered scaffolding, to stationary scaffolding. What ever the proposal may be, it is key to ensure that it is always fully reviewed and considered by the Party Wall Surveyor.

One of the benefits of a Party Wall Award is that it legally protects the adjoining owner in the event of damage. This not only applies to structural or decorative damage, however it also applies to other forms of damage such as damage to plants, trees or other vegetation.

Here at Berry Lodge over the years we have dealt with many different types of Party Wall Access, from single storey extensions to multi storey new builds.

We understand that access onto an adjoining owner’s land has to be carefully considered and more importantly carefully managed.

If you have been served with a Party Wall Notice, or are about to embark on construction work and suspect the contractor will require access, why not call our experienced Party Wall team now.