Whether your home is in a busy city or in the serene countryside, knowing how to deal with your neighbours during a renovation will come in handy for all sorts of reasons, say the organisers of The National Homebuilding & Renovating Show…
Review the objective considerations
First of all, it’s important to understand the impact your neighbours can have on your project as they can’t get in the way of your building works without objective and realistic claims. When planning authorities are considering your application, they are reviewing the material aspects only such as the size and scale of the project and its impact. Neighbours’ concerns such as ‘Is this going to affect my house value?’ or ‘I might lose my view’ won’t be taken into account, as they’re classed as subjective claims. You can read more about these rules beforehand online on https://www.planningportal.co.uk/faqs/faq/4/what_are_material_considerations.
Being clear about your position and your responsibilities can give you plenty of confidence when dealing with your neighbours because people often mistakenly assume that neighbours can put a halt to any planning application that you have. However, this doesn’t mean being aggressive, as you’ll probably be living next door to these people going forward, so it all comes down to good manners and good intentions.
Make an effort to go around to your neighbours before submitting your planning application, introducing yourself, getting to know them, and being transparent by showing them your plans, safe in the knowledge that they may object to certain key areas. But don’t make the mistake of asking them for their opinion. Address their concerns about disruption rather than about how the finished house will look and how it might affect their property.
We all need to accept that with building comes disruption. There are likely to be big lorries outside the house trying to deliver bricks or noisy disc cutters being used on a Saturday morning. The more practical elements that might impact their house will be included in the Party Wall Act that deals with the collateral damage. In addition, more information about the building conditions and timing around disruptions often come in the planning consent and are area-specific.
Nonetheless, bear in mind that most decent builders will be naturally considerate and keen to not deal with difficult neighbours. Where it becomes a real issue is where neighbours are looking to disrupt building projects by blocking the driveway and making complaints.
Sometimes you just can’t please all parties but as long as you approach your neighbours in a fair and honest way, then you’ve done all you can do.