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Part III – Utility Routes, Party Wall Awards, Rights of Light, Environmental Issues and Project Managers

Whether you are simply extending your existing property or constructing a completely new property you will of course need to obtain planning permission and then you need to obtain building regulation consents (unless exemption applies).  There are other matters that you need to consider before committing funds to such a project but the matters mentioned below are frequently encountered in practice:-

  1. Utility routes
    If the land that you intend to build over includes underground utilities such as water mains or drainage pipes in particular then you will need to negotiate a Build Over Agreement with the relevant utility supplier or alternatively you will need to try and agree with them that the route of their service can be diverted but this can be a very costly exercise.  This needs to be considered at an early stage.
  1. Party Wall Awards
    If you are building onto or close to an adjoining premises wall it is probable you will need to enter into an Party Wall Award with the adjoining owner which will set out your obligations and duties in relation to your building works including obligations to take reasonable care and make reasonable repairs and preparations to your neighbours property.  In this connection it is vital that you appoint a party wall surveyor at the earliest possible time and will deal with matters on your behalf.  You will have to pay your neighbours costs in relation to the matter.If you fail to comply you may find yourself subject to an injunction or even criminal proceedings in trespass.
  1. Rights of Light
    You need to ensure that your building works do not infringe your neighbours rights of light.  Please note that rights of light can only be claimed in relation to windows that have been in existence for at least 20 years and no such rights are available with regard to garden land.  Potential breaches in relation to such matters can be stopped by injunction proceedings.
  1. Environmental Issues
    This paragraph is more relevant in circumstances where you are contemplating a purchase of a land for a development. Environmental law is designed to reduce the impact of human activity and to identify previously imposed risks to the environment. You have to be particularly careful when purchasing industrial sites, waste disposal sites or mining sites. The current regime imposes an obligation on the person who caused contamination to the land to clean it. However, if such person cannot be identified, the obligation will be passed on the current owner of the site. The costs of cleaning contamination site often can be grater then the value of the land itself.
  1. Project Manager
    It is vital that you have as part of your professional team a project manager who will advise you on the form of building contract you require and any amendments to be inserted therein such as penalties for late delivery.

This article is intended to point out major areas of concern but in all cases it is sensible for those wishing to either build new properties or extensions whether residential or commercial to take advice from a professional team which should include their Chartered Surveyor and Solicitor.

For more information and advice on extending or building a property, call us on 020 8514 9000.

Article by Michael Bonehill.