Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Foresight Could Save Friendship; House Doctor Peter Fall Looks at Party Wall Problems

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Foresight Could Save Friendship; House Doctor Peter Fall Looks at Party Wall Problems

Article excerpt

Byline: Peter Fall of Clear Building Survey

ONE of our surveyors in the London area received a call last year from a client who returned home from work to find her neighbour's builder had erected a scaffold half-way across the back of her house.

She was aware that the neighbour was having an extension - indeed she had agreed to the work, so obviating the need for a Party Wall Award. What she hadn't agreed to, was free access for the builder on to her land. The builder, on the other hand, had been told by the neighbour that our client had agreed to the works, so the builder assumed that included letting him put his scaffold up to facilitate building up the party wall and connecting up to the roof.

It was a classic case of the builder assuming what is good for them and trusting that the affected people won't mind. But our client did mind. From her position of tolerating the mess and disturbance she quickly turned to complete obstruction and insisting on the scaffolding being removed.

Of course, had both parties appointed party wall surveyors at the outset, this issue would have been addressed and resolved before the builder started.

The right of access for a neighbour on to another's land was addressed by an Act of Parliament in 1992, The Access to Neighbouring Land Act. This says you can apply to the courts for access on to your neighbour's land if you want to carry out basic preservation work to all or part of the land or building and, if without this access it would be impossible or substantially more difficult to do the work if you didn't have access. The key words are 'basic preservation works' and 'substantially more difficult'.

Basic preservation works are such things as maintenance and repairs to the building drains or pipes, also cutting back, removing or replacing of hedges and trees, which are becoming diseased, or filling in and clearing of an adjacent ditch. …

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