Are you planning a house extension, loft conversion or other major home improvement? It may be an exciting time to see your vision come to life, but the process itself can be messy and stressful. Now imagine that you live next door. Wouldn’t you be concerned about the upcoming disruption and the noise?
Change is not always for the better and your neighbour may not be fully on board with your building plans. So, what can you do to avoid unnecessary conflict? We’ve put together five useful tips you can use to reassure your immediate neighbours and other nearby residents about your upcoming home renovation project.
Let’s start with a statement of the obvious: The more considerate you can be towards your neighbours before and during your building project, the greater the chances that they will be sympathetic to your endeavours. Start by inviting them over for a friendly cup of tea or glass of wine. Show them the drawings and calmly explain to them what will be happening and when. Perhaps not surprisingly, people can get very upset when they hear about a planning permission being submitted without their knowledge. Even if you don’t need planning consent, there’s nothing worse for a neighbour than being left in the dark, only to find out about building work next door when the scaffolding goes up!
We all want good neighbourly relations, and you can do your bit by keeping plenty of goodwill and communication flowing between all the affected parties. Maybe your builder needs access via a neighbouring property. Maybe there’s dust and noise to contend with, or a blocked driveway for a few days. By keeping on good terms with the people next door, your project has every chance of going that little bit more smoothly. Ignore your neighbours’ feelings at your peril. How you treat them during your build will be how they treat you, should they ever decide to improve their property. Remember that you still have to live next to each other, possibly for many years.
Are you aware that, if your renovation projects fall under the remit of the Party Wall Act 1996, you are legally obliged to inform your neighbours and reach agreement with them before you can start building works? This mainly affects loft conversions, basement excavations, building extensions, side return extensions and similar projects in terraced and semi-detached houses where the works could theoretically damage the adjoining property. The legislation is designed to protect both the building owner and the adjoining owner in the event of any party wall conflicts. It should go without saying that harmonious relations with your neighbour will maximise your chances of obtaining their consent without undue delay.
Showing consideration to your neighbours also extends to introducing them to the professionals you’ve chosen to manage the build. This may you include your architect, project manager or builder – encourage them to have a chat with your neighbour and put their mind at ease by answering any queries they may have direct. It should also include your party wall surveyor who, in any event, may be able to act for all parties concerned. He can outline the statutory process to be followed and reassure everyone concerned that all property interests are being protected during the building project.
Finally, there’s nothing more exhilarating than seeing your home improvement project completed and being able to show it off to your friends and family. So, why not invite the neighbours too? Let’s face it, every neighbour loves a chance to take a look around next door’s house, and especially if they’ve been kept informed throughout your building works and are dying to see what you’ve done to the place. What’s more, your lovely gesture is sure to be appreciated and offers the opportunity to celebrate the end of the inconvenience and disruption with a glass of fizz. That way, you strengthen the neighbourly bond between you and end the build on a high note!