We’ve been resolving party wall disputes in Colchester since 2007. Whether we are dealing with the removal of a chimney breast that backs on to a party wall or a double storey basement extension, our focus is on finding a fair balance between the building owner’s desire to complete their works as quickly as possible and the need to minimise risk and inconvenience to adjoining owners.
If you are about to buy your first Colchester property you can also take advantage the experience of our team of Chartered Surveyors can offer. We can provide a range of pre-purchase surveys but the best way to decide which one best suits your needs is to call us on the number above for an initial consultation.
Our senior surveyor, Justin Burns, recently advised the owners of a period cottage to the north of Colchester, close to the village of Great Horkesley, regarding a proposed rear extension. Although the proposals were relatively modest, they had been met with some local opposition and the building owners were concerned that they would not have the access required to complete their project. Our surveyor confirmed that every owner has a right of access to undertake works covered by the Party Wall etc. Act 1996 where that is necessary and that there was nothing in the Act that could be used to thwart their plans.
The building owners were grateful for the advice provided and relieved that their works could proceed – ‘Many thanks for your visit and helpful guidance. It’s helpful and somewhat comforting to receive the advice that the works cannot be stalled by this process’.
Appointed surveyors do not have the power to determine boundaries but sometimes it very difficult to untangle party wall procedures from arguments over the position of the boundary. Section 1 of the Act covers new walls at the boundary (referred to in the Act as a ‘Line of Junction’) but how can an award authorise such when there’s a dispute over that boundary?
This was the challenge faced by our surveyor Justin Burns when he recently served party wall notices on behalf of an owner who proposed to add a rear extension to his semi-detached house close to a small village north of Colchester. The adjoining owners dissented to the notices but made it clear their only issue was that the extension did not go beyond the existing fence line.
Justin laid out the options for the building owner and he decided to move his extension back slightly and avoid a dispute. Agreeing the award was then a straightforward process and it was served in time for the work to commence on schedule.
It’s sometimes necessary to dig a little in to the history of a property to establish what rights are being exercised under the Party Wall etc. Act 1996. A good example is where the owners of adjoining terraced or semi-detached properties each have rear extensions but one owner proposes to demolish and re-build theirs. What’s the status of the wall that divides the existing extensions?
Our surveyor Justin Burns was recently faced with one such head scratcher when visiting an adjoining owner in the CO11 area of Colchester. Measurements taken on the adjoining owner’s side of the wall contradicted the architectural plans so it was not clear whether there was one dividing wall or two, if a party wall is being raised (as the building owner intended to form a parapet) or if a party wall was to be exposed.
The obvious solution would be to open up part of the structure but that’s not always easy when properties are occupied. A more practical solution would be to serve an award on the basis of what is more likely with an obligation for the building owner to gain agreement from the adjoining owner if it turns out to be different. The surveyors can become involved again after work commences, and serve a further award, if the owners cannot agree matters.
Applying a cement-based render to a period property is generally a bad idea. Older style properties tend to be built on shallower foundations and do not have movement joints so are prone to both seasonal settlement and thermal movement cracking. Whereas bricks laid with a lime-based mortar will accommodate such movement to a certain extent, a rigid coat of render will inevitably crack.
Our surveyor Justin Burns came across an example of this while recently preparing a Level 2 survey on a rural property close to Manningtree. The original Victorian cottage had been heavily extended but all walls, including the original, had been rendered. The render had cracked extensively and there were areas of de-bonding. When applying render to a period property it should be lime-based and any painted coating applied to the render should be permeable such as a limewash.
Our clients were pleased with the survey commenting that It had helped them feel informed for their purchase of the property.READ THE FULL REVIEW
We’re often asked by owners what they can do to ensure a favourable outcome when serving party wall notices and the key advice is always the same – keep your neighbours in the loop. Many smaller extensions fall under an owner’s permitted development rights so the neighbours may only become aware of the proposals when party wall notices are served. That’s the first opportunity to get the neighbours on side.
We had a good example of this on a recent loft conversion project close to Highwoods to the west of Colchester. Due to the configuration of the modern houses, 3 adjoining owners had to be notified. Our surveyor Justin Burns prepared the notices but they were hand delivered By the building owner who took the time to explain the process and answer any questions. Justin dealt with a follow up call from one of the neighbours but they all consented to the notices.
The building owner was pleased with our input commenting that Justin was “… easy to communicate with and quick to respond to any questions”.READ THE FULL REVIEW
You can read further reviews from our clients in and around Colchester on our Google Business page
Colchester is a market town to the north-east of Essex, close to the border with Suffolk.
The town has a rich Roman history, being one of their most important settlements, and it would be easy to spend a day exploring the remains of their occupation including the 2 mile long perimeter wall, the Roman Theatre in the Dutch Quarter or the Roman Circus Centre which hosted chariot racing.
Maybe not as exciting as chariot racing, but attractions is modern day Colchester include the zoo, the Norman Castle or the East Anglian Railway Museum for those that have always dreamt of operating a real life steam engine.
Colchester’s property market offers lots of variety. There’s a good choice of modern properties close to the town centre, often very affordable, but if you’re looking for something more picturesque there are many beautiful villages surrounding the town including Coggeshall to the west and Dedham on the River Stour to the north.
Colchester is just over an hour from Liverpool Street Station by train. If you fancy a day at the seaside, the coastal town of Frinton is a mere 30 minute drive or if you’d prefer to jet off to somewhere sunnier, Stanstead airport is a similar distance in the opposite direction.
Leading London-based party wall specialists with a 35+ year history.
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