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Keeping in With the Neighbours

By: Chris Hogan MSc - Updated: 12 Nov 2017 | comments*Discuss
 
Extension Build Planning Permission

Keeping in with the neighbours can be critical to any home extension and it's well worth putting some effort into it. This was touched on in our article about Obtaining Planning Permission, in that you don't want your neighbours to find out about your plans when the little notices go up on the lampposts and fences near their homes.

Take Neighbours Into Consideration

Even if the neighbours wouldn't really have had anything to say about the development of your property, in terms of it's style and situation, then the fact that you didn't tell them first might well make them sit up and take a lot more notice than they otherwise would have. You don't have to ask their permission, just have a casual chat with them and mention the work you'll be doing, answer their questions, and gauge their reaction to see if you're likely to have a problem.

Neighbours have a right to prevent you from doing work on your property that will adversely affect their living conditions. Talking their light is one thing that will almost certainly result in a planning permission refusal, so look at how close your neighbours are and where their windows are. If your building will block light getting to their property, resulting in significantly less light reaching their windows, then you will very likely have to reconsider your plans.

Access and Party Walls

Another area where you should take care is if your work will affect a neighbour's access to their home or land. As with most things, this isn't forbidden, its perfectly all right if your neighbours agree to the change and get access that's as good, if not better, after you've finished your work. It's the getting permission that's the tough bit, and obviously you will have to pay for any work necessary to affect that new access.

Party walls, i.e. walls that sit on the boundary line and are therefore owned or used by more than one neighbour, are covered by a separate act, the Party Wall Act of 1996, which was put in force to clarify the processes and procedures to follow when trying to make changes to such a wall. It is essential that any works that might affect a party wall are discussed with the other owners and agreed in writing, and you must start this process at least two months before you intend to start work. The Act also requires those other neighbours not to be unduly obstructive, but it can be difficult to know where the dividing line is between a genuine, if perhaps petty, objection, and being unduly obstructive.

Once you have applied for planning permission the council will put notices up in the area of your house to let people know of the work that is proposed, and your plans must be on display a the local planning office for any neighbours to look at. If neighbours object, then it doesn't necessarily mean that permission will be refused, but the planners will take their views into consideration.

Keep Lines of Communication Open

Once you have planning permission, the dialogue shouldn't stop there. Your builders or other contractors may need access via a neighbour's house or garden, for example, so make sure you agree that up front and see any damage is made good. Let people know what's happening as the work progresses, such as times and dates when heavy equipment or suppliers' lorries are expected, so that neighbours can make sure they don't get blocked in.

Consider buying presents for people who are inconvenienced by contractors' vehicles over the period of the build. In the context of an extension budget, an extra hundred quid or so on nice wine or chocolates for the neighbours isn't a big item, and it may turn out to be a spend that's worth it's weight in gold

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[Add a Comment]
HerneHillHelp - Your Question:
Hello, I would be grateful for you advice. I am a leaseholder in a ground floor flat with one flat above. The leaseholder has agreed, in principle, that I can build a Orangery/SunRoom extension to the back of my property - with at least some glazed roof. The upstairs neighbours have a small balcony which will hang over (a few centimeters above) some of the roof of the extension. I know I need Planning Permission, but before I move forward and develop plans, I want to understand whether their balcony might give them or the Council more of a reason to object to or decline planning permission.Thanks so much, in advance.

Our Response:
The planning department will consult neighbours in the vicinity, but an objection doesn't always mean consent will withheld. Talk to your planning officer before making an application, they will happily provide you with general details of what may or may not be considered acceptable (although of course they won't be able to state categorically whether consent will be given/refused)
ExtensionBuild - 14-Nov-17 @ 12:10 PM
Hello, I would be grateful for you advice. I am a leaseholder in a ground floor flat with one flat above. The leaseholder has agreed, in principle, that I can build a Orangery/SunRoom extension to the back of my property - with at least some glazed roof. The upstairs neighbours have a small balcony which will hang over (a few centimeters above) some of the roof of the extension. I know I need Planning Permission, but before I move forward and develop plans, I want to understand whether their balcony might give them or the Council more of a reason to object to or decline planning permission.Thanks so much, in advance.
HerneHillHelp - 12-Nov-17 @ 4:23 PM
DarinaNikolov - Your Question:
Hi. We live in first floor flat and we have built a window on the loft and internal staircase but we havent got plan permission for it as its not gonna be a bedroom but just extra space. My neighbour from ground floor is complaining that we didnt ask her about the window and staircases and had complain in the council and said she will come to check over as it wasnt safety enough for her. My question is.What rights she has to have an acces to my flat? Do I need permission to have staircase to the loft?

Our Response:
Assuming you own the property (i.e your downstairs neighbour isn't actually your landlord), your neighbour doesn't have any rights to come and inspect what you've done. As she lives in the same building, it's understandable if she's concerned about any structural work you've done. You almost certainly need planning permission to put in a new window (where there wasn't one originally) and possibly also to put a staircase into your loft. You will definitely need building regulations approval for both types of work.
ExtensionBuild - 6-Nov-17 @ 10:56 AM
Hi. We live in first floor flat and we have built a window on the loft and internal staircase but we havent got plan permission for it as itsnot gonna be a bedroom but just extra space. My neighbour from ground floor is complaining that we didnt ask her about the window and staircases and had complain in the council and said she will come to check over as it wasnt safety enough for her. My question is...What rights she has to have an acces to my flat? Do i need permission to have staircase to the loft?
DarinaNikolov - 3-Nov-17 @ 10:01 PM
Hi We are having neighbours taking pictures of our loft conversion and being generally disruptive. Party wall agreement has been signed off all above board they have also sent over building regs as well who didnt have any complaint. what can we do to stop this behaviour?
wao1 - 10-Oct-17 @ 5:11 PM
brommo - Your Question:
Recently builders have renovated and built a extension to next door, the problem is that at the back of the house they have put concrete slabs on top of the party wall, they are now over hanging onto my side of the party wall, also it will be obstructing me being able to put up a new back door post.

Our Response:
Have you talked to them about it? They may not realise that it is an issue.
ExtensionBuild - 3-Oct-17 @ 10:45 AM
recently builders have renovated and built a extension to next door, the problem is that at the back of the house they have put concrete slabs on top of the party wall, they are now over hanging onto my side of the party wall, also it will be obstructing me being able to put up a new back door post.
brommo - 30-Sep-17 @ 6:07 PM
Carol - Your Question:
I live in a detached house as does my neighbour. Their house is lightly higher on the site and stepped forward. They have just closed a small toilet window which they had on their side wall and which we could not see because it was midway on the wall along their side passage. They have now opened a new window right at the front end of their side wall as they are moving kitchen to the front and it looks directly onto our front drive and into our sitting room. What can we do ?

Our Response:
Contact the planning department - sometimes they are willing to impose conidtions (such as frosting/opaque windows) in the case of side elevations.
ExtensionBuild - 29-Sep-17 @ 2:21 PM
I live in a detached house as does my neighbour. Their house is lightly higher on the site and stepped forward. They have just closed a small toilet window which they had on their side wall and which we could not see because it was midway on the wall along their side passage. They have now opened a new window right at the front end of their side wall as they are moving kitchen to the front and it looks directly onto our front drive and into our sitting room. What can we do ?
Carol - 27-Sep-17 @ 10:15 PM
Hi, I need your word of advice. Our neighbour is thinking of installing solar panels on her garage roof. We wouldn't mind if it was as the roof is now - it is a sloping roof, sloping towards her driveway and towards other neighbours on the opposite side. because of a better sun exposure she wants to change the roof - raise it on the sides where the slopes are now and lower it on the side that overlooks us and her home on the opposite side. she wants to instal the panels on the slope that would overlook us. Her garage is in our border and we have enjoyed the bit of privacy that the taller garage wall creates. We do not wish to be looking at her solar panels from our kitchen, dining room, playroom and even more so from our garden. Would she need a building permit to change the roofline on her garage that is adjacent to the wall (or is actually part of the wall itself) between our properties. Would it matter that she would immensely affect our view from the back of the house? I would appreciate any information you may have. Kind regards, Keda
Keda - 16-Sep-17 @ 7:24 PM
Hi, we have an end of terrace house (block of 4) and are looking to build an extension at the back, there is however a right of access for the next property (e.g. They have a gate in to our garden to allow access to the road). My question is would we still be able to build the extension if there is still a conveluted route to the outside road through our garden?. The neighbours have never used this route but not to say new neighbours may. Thanks
James - 26-Aug-17 @ 11:25 AM
Debsatwitsend - Your Question:
Hi,My neighbours have built a porch on their detached property. The side wall, with window, encroaches onto my driveway by a couple of inches. The end wall of the porch joins onto the front wall of my garage.I have two queries - now the porch of their detached house is joined to my garage, does that mean the status of their house is now semi- detached ?Also, I now wish to extend my home by the width of my driveway / garage to the boundary, which would mean 'meeting' their porch - would this be allowed as ' technically' their porch is on my property ?Thanks in advance for any guidance ??

Our Response:
Firstly yes, this could change the "status" of the house. Secondly, your neighbour should not attach anything they build to your property (e.g your garage).Thirdly you would need to speak to your local planning department about any potential extension.
ExtensionBuild - 22-Aug-17 @ 2:12 PM
Hi, My neighbours have built a porch on their detached property. The side wall, with window, encroaches onto my driveway by a couple of inches. The end wall of the porch joins onto the front wall of my garage. I have two queries - now the porch of their detached house is joined to my garage, does that mean the status of their house is now semi- detached ? Also, I now wish to extend my homeby the width of my driveway / garage to the boundary, which would mean 'meeting' their porch - would this be allowed as ' technically' their porch is on my property ? Thanks in advance for any guidance ??
Debsatwitsend - 20-Aug-17 @ 6:46 PM
Amanda - Your Question:
I'm buying an end of terrace house, the house in the next block to my right already has a conservatory. our houses are separated by a single paved pathway. Gardens either side to my property are already separated by 6ft + fencing. I intend to build a 4m x3m orangery, within permitted development, both ends will be brick walls, flat roof with a glass lantern. Builders will probably build as close as they can to the fence on the left and the right bearing in mind we have the pathway separating us on this side. Question - the right of light rule, does that apply to their conservatory? the height of mine is likely to mirror theirs, only difference being the brick wall, also it's not going to be too much higher than the existing fence but they might argue that it's enough to stop light coming in through the side of theirs.

Our Response:
The right to light usually applies to accommodation that is used as part of the residence. The easiest way to find out about this is to have an information conversation with your planning officer. They're happy to advise on this and will be able look at your potential plans to see if the effect on the neighbouring property is likely to prevent the build going ahead.
ExtensionBuild - 17-Aug-17 @ 1:00 PM
I'm buying an end of terrace house, the house in the next block to my right already has a conservatory. our houses are separated by a single paved pathway. Gardens either side to my property are already separated by 6ft + fencing. I intend to build a 4m x3m orangery, within permitted development, both ends will be brick walls, flat roof with a glass lantern.Builders will probably build as close as they can to the fence on the left andthe right bearing in mind we have the pathway separating us on this side. Question - the right of light rule, does that apply to their conservatory?the height of mine is likely to mirror theirs, only difference being the brick wall, also it's not going to be too much higher than the existing fence but they might argue that it's enough to stop light coming in through the side of theirs.
Amanda - 16-Aug-17 @ 9:34 AM
Rache3014 - Your Question:
I live in a detached converter house. I own the upstairs flat. The garden at the rear is split in two. My neighbours downstairs bedroom window overlooks my garden. Can I put anything in front of the window to stop them being able to look into my garden?

Our Response:
Check your deeds to make sure there are no conditions relating to this. It would probably be unfair to block all light from your neighbour's window but planting some selective bushes a few feet away might be acceptable
ExtensionBuild - 20-Jun-17 @ 11:49 AM
I live in a detached converter house. I own the upstairs flat. The garden at the rear is split in two. My neighbours downstairs bedroom window overlooks my garden. Can I put anything in front of the window to stop them being able to look into my garden?
Rache3014 - 18-Jun-17 @ 12:16 PM
Kitkat - Your Question:
Neighbours are building extension and we are link detached , no party wall agreements and no info forthcoming and cannot get any help on our rights anywhere also heavy machinery and building work bank hols and until 8 at night.

Our Response:
If you object to work taking place on a party wall and the neighbour refuses to stop, you will have to consider legal action.
ExtensionBuild - 4-May-17 @ 2:20 PM
Neighbours are building extension and we are link detached , no party wall agreements and no info forthcoming and cannot get any help on our rights anywhere also heavy machinery and building work bank hols and until 8 at night .
Kitkat - 3-May-17 @ 10:57 PM
Chez - Your Question:
Hi im a council tentant.my neighbour as bought his council property.and has just built a brick conservatory with one window and a door.3.4 metres high.it has taken half of his garden in width.so looking from my patio window im blocked in.with 8inche gap from my patio window.also without planning permission.

Our Response:
Many conservatories do not need planning permission, but even "permitted development" has to meet certain criteria which you can read here
ExtensionBuild - 21-Apr-17 @ 2:29 PM
Hi im a council tentant .my neighbour as bought his council property ..and has just built a brick conservatory with one window and a door ..3.4 metres high .it has taken half of his garden in width..so looking from my patio window im blocked in..with 8inchegap from my patio window..also without planning permission.
Chez - 18-Apr-17 @ 7:53 PM
I live on the top floor of a 2 up 2 down victorian flat in Scotland. I have spoken to a solicitor who confirmed as deeds are silent on the ownership of the loft space the Tenement Act steps in and grants ownership to the top floor flats. I have 2 children and can't afford to move so would like to convert the loft to add another bedroom. My solicitor hasn't been useful to be honest. Am I right in thinking I just need to get permission from the other owners to put velux windows in the roof which we have mutual liability for? I am alright on the building regs etc it's just the legal side I am stuck on and I'm scared to do anything further until I get this part sorted. Do I just write to the neighbours and ask them if they object? I wrote to them with my intentions around 4 months ago to inform them of my plans and asking if there was any objection to me converting the loft but haven't heard back (they are rented out so I don't see the actual owners to ask them) I didn't specifically ask about installing windows so am not sure if I need to ask this specifically. Thanks for any help you can offer
Mrsl - 13-Mar-17 @ 6:08 PM
I live on the top floor of a 2 up 2 down victorian flat in Scotland. I have spoken to a solicitor who confirmed as deeds are silent on the ownership of the loft space the Tenement Act steps in and grants ownership to the top floor flats. I have 2 children and can't afford to move so would like to convert the loft to add another bedroom. My solicitor hasn't been useful to be honest. Am I right in thinking I just need to get permission from the other owners to put velux windows in the roof which we have mutual liability for? I am alright on the building regs etc it's just the legal side I am stuck on and I'm scared to do anything further until I get this part sorted. Do I just write to the neighbours and ask them if they object? I wrote to them with my intentions around 4 months ago to inform them of my plans and asking if there was any objection to me converting the loft but haven't heard back (they are rented out so I don't see the actual owners to ask them) I didn't specifically ask about installing windows so am not sure if I need to ask this specifically. Thanks for any help you can offer
Mrsl - 13-Mar-17 @ 5:10 PM
Our neighbours are having a new slate roof put on their existing conservatory. Contractors are in the throws of doing it now. Problem is our roofs have only 6 inches between them and the bare minimum of room for the normal size of guttering they say they would use. Contractor says he will make a guttering out of wood and line it with lead flashing and seal it, drill into both walls and attach it between the houses. Other than that there will be no guttering at all and the rain will just pour off the roof and down both the walls with ahigh possibility that it could create rising damp to both houses. Are the contractors just being slap dash and fobbing us off, as I would not think wood a very good material for use with rainwater.Advice please on how to tackle this problem, as I can see problems in a few years with no redress. HELP
CAS3 - 27-Feb-17 @ 4:11 PM
Hi, I live on a ground floor conversion victorian flat. The neighbor downstairs in the basement said he is looking to add a room as an extension intto his garden. I have asked him for the plans as I am interested in extending on top of him, so that I will have more space when I get married with the kids, but the neighbor is refusing to show the plans, and is saying he is doing the extension as a glass ceiling to allow more light into his property, so I will not be able to construct on top of his extension Is there a way from building control to enforce on the neighbor to at least make the room not as glass ceiling ? What would you advise I do in this case? Thank you
Question - 21-Jan-17 @ 3:54 PM
dmod83 - Your Question:
We are looking into purchasing a property with the intent of building a 2 storey side extension, built up to within 300mm of the boundary with the neighbours. The property is a modern semi detached property, and there will be no side windows on the extension however the neighbours property ground level is approx 300mm higher, and they have a side lean to conservatory which is built right up to the boundary. Their conservatory has obscure glass on our side, but will this present any issues when we submit our planning application? Are there any restrictions in place for building up to a conservatory? Does this fall under 'Right to Light' or 'Party Wall' acts?

Our Response:
It's unlikely that this will be affected by any planning issues and it doesn't sound like a party wall issue especially if the neighbour has built right up to their side of the boundary already and you are leaving a 30cm gap (do make sure you have allowed for future external maintenance). Check with your planning department as two storey side extensions do not normally fall under permitted development.
ExtensionBuild - 5-Jan-17 @ 10:42 AM
We are looking into purchasing a property with the intent of building a 2 storey side extension, built up to within 300mm of the boundary with the neighbours. The property is a modern semi detached property, and there will be no side windows on the extension however the neighbours property ground level is approx 300mm higher, and they have a side lean to conservatory which is built right up to the boundary. Their conservatory has obscure glass on our side, but will this present any issues when we submit our planning application? Are there any restrictions in place for building up to a conservatory? Does this fall under 'Right to Light' or 'Party Wall' acts?
dmod83 - 4-Jan-17 @ 7:52 AM
We are buying a semi detached house and the neighbour has extended with a two storey extension right up along the boundary. The guttering overhangs our land.We are buying the house with a view to building a two storey extension. Can we also build to the boundary or are we obliged to leave a gap? Would the potential gap have to be a set size and therefore disproportionately affect our plans as in, we need to allow all the gap because next door have left none rather than share the gap? I've heard about a terracing effect that councils may not allow.
Jenjenjen - 9-Nov-16 @ 9:52 PM
Our house was extended before we bought it and the extention is built partly over access land. There is still a path at the side that gives access to the wall that is now between the properties.The access was only because there were originally two outside loos at the end of the neighbour's patio and it was to access these. These are no longer there. However, the neighbour keeps threatening that she could make us put a door in our kitchen as she has a right to walk through it. Is this correct please?
Feel threatened - 5-Oct-16 @ 3:20 PM
Bee - Your Question:
Our neighbours are building a 2 storey extension that is not attached to the party wall but comes close. We have a overhanging roof which is part of the design of the terrace of swiss chalet style houses. The new wall will pass the edge of our roof so close that it will make it impossible for us to carry out maintenance to our roof at that point, what can we do? The building work has started and the wall is closer that it should be by 2 inches.

Our Response:
As it's a two storey extension we assume planning permission was sought and your objections noted? Please contact your planning department if you think the building or its location are not following the specified plans.
ExtensionBuild - 30-Sep-16 @ 2:36 PM
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