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Party Wall Questions #1

Saturday, 22nd January 2011 | by: Peter Barry

Question

An Owner plans to add an additional floor to the back addition of his late Victorian terraced house by raising a studwork wall against the existing party parapet wall (see sketch below) – does he have a right of access on to the roof of the Adjoining Owner’s property to apply hanging tiles/flashings?

Could the Adjoining Owner object to such an arrangement on the basis that it would make it difficult to weatherproof a similar extension to his own property in the future?

Parapet

This is the first in series of questions that were raised at a recent FPWS North London forum meeting which I helped to organise. I would welcome the views of other surveyors. If you are a surveyor involved in party wall matters and would like to attend future meetings please email me at justin.burns@peterbarry.co.uk and I’ll keep you updated.

Comment

Rights of access are covered in Section 8 of the Act. The first part of the section spells out in what circumstances access must be permitted by the Adjoining Owner:

8.(1) A building owner, his servants, agents and workmen may during usual working hours enter and remain on any land or premises for the purpose of executing any work in pursuance of this Act and may remove any furniture or fffittings or take any other action necessary for that purpose.

The key words in this clause are ‘…in pursuance of this Act…’ i.e. access will only be permitted for the purpose of undertaking works which fall within the scope of the Act. So, what part of the work described in the question falls within the scope of the Act?

So, what part of the work described in the question falls within the scope of the Act? The sketch shows that the timber studwork is to be bolted on to the face of the parpet wall – that would be covered by Section 2(2)(f) of the Act. It was suggested during our recent meeting that either dressing the lead flashing down over the wall or fixing tiles within the airspace over the wall could constitute ‘raising’ the wall as covered in Section 2(2)(a) but that was surely not the intention of that clause.

So, as it is only the fixings that are notifiable under the Act and they can easily be installed from the Building Owner’s side the Act would not grant any right of access on to the Adjoining Owner’s roof.

The second part of the question is quite straightforward, the Adjoining Owner cannot object to the detail shown regardless of how it may affect his future plans. He would still have the right to raise the party wall under the Act and cut away anything that prevents him from doing that – subject to serving notice.

Finally, you may question why a Building Owner would adopt the detail shown rather than simply raise the party wall in brickwork and enclose upon it. The answer appears to be in the rules govering an owner’s permitted development rights and what constitutes the curtilage of his property – that topic was recently covered in some detail by Matthew Hearsum in a recent post on his blog.