Neighbour will do work whether we like it or not!

by Readers Question

19:32 PM, 26th January 2015
About 6 years ago

Neighbour will do work whether we like it or not!

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Neighbour will do work whether we like it or not!

There are builders currently working next door to one of our rental houses. They say they are converting a 4-bed into a 7-bed house, including a loft conversion and a ground floor extension. The agent is liaising on the landlord’s behalf. Neighbour will do work whether we like it or not

The agent has said they are doing the side extension – we don’t yet know the details but it looks like it will come to within inches of our border, affecting the light that comes into our kitchen and downstairs bedroom (which has a rear window).

In addition, they want to take down the stone wall that forms the boundary between the two back gardens and presumably re-erect it after they have put the footings in. We believe the wall belongs to both of us and I want to know what happens if we say no, we do not give permission for this?

The agent has already said he is only telling us about the extension as a matter of courtesy and will go ahead and build it regardless. He says only building regs is necessary and not planning permission. I don’t know if he’s also thinking of going ahead and dismantling the boundary wall also without our permission.

The whole thing has led me on to the idea that perhaps we, too, would like to do an extension at the back. We were going to replace the kitchen anyway, so we might wait until the tenants have left at the end of June and get the work done in July.

I’m just wondering what thoughts people have about this?

We are wondering whether there are regulations/laws about the minimum space needed between houses (although they are terraced anyway). For example, could they put the extension in now and then, when we try and do a mirror image of that one in July would they have any way of stopping us?

For one thing, we wouldn’t want them to put a window in that looked directly into our current kitchen, because if we then wanted to do the same we’d have the bizarre situation of two windows inches from each other looking right into the other one!

Any thoughts?


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Dr Rosalind Beck

13:16 PM, 27th January 2015
About 6 years ago

Thank you everyone for some great ideas. My partner was meeting the agent this morning to see the plans so I will ask him to study all of this advice.

James Hargreaves

16:04 PM, 27th January 2015
About 6 years ago

Hi Ros,

It sounds like there are plenty of party wall and potentially some rights of light issues here, which as you may be aware are civil issues and whether or not the work requires planning permission or is valid under PD is immaterial to these areas of law.

If the neighbours are building so close to your boundary and you've not been served notice under the Party Wall Act then you need to speak to a surveyor as soon as possible; the last thing you want is to find cracks in your walls when the builders excavate. You need an account of your property before the work is carried out, to establish if the work causes any damage to yours.

Under the Party Wall Act the builders are entitled to take down the wall and rebuild; the wall must be both of yours however. If it solely owned by you the builders can't touch it, and the wall has a right of support which the builders must maintain. If the wall is jointly owned, I'm afraid you can't really refuse permission to this, but procedures do need to be followed to both protect yourself and facilitate the work.

I'm not a planning specialist but from what I can gather: if the extension is greater than 3m from the original wall then the neighbour consultation scheme mentioned above will apply. If it's less, then it won't. Under this scheme it's not compulsory to seek your permission; planners may give consent anyway. Ring the local planning authority and let them know about the work nonetheless.

There is no criterion for minimum space between houses in the building regs.

Regarding rights of light, from experience (I specialise in this) it's uncommon for an extension of this size (within PD) to cause an actionable interference of your light, but not impossible. It is very dependent on the layout of your property. Any new windows in your neighbour's extension are very unlikely to automatically acquire a right over your land; the most common method of acquiring such a right is through 20 years' use. Therefore, if you build the same later down the line, it's unlikely you'll be infringing the neighbour's right of light.

Hope that helps


Dr Rosalind Beck

16:17 PM, 27th January 2015
About 6 years ago

Thanks James.
I think we are likely to go with what someone suggested earlier, which is to take the opportunity of using the wall they are going to build for the extension as part of an extension for us too. If you can't beat 'em, join 'em.
We were going to have to replace our kitchen and bathroom soon anyway, so we are thinking of doing a mirror image of their work and also a loft conversion. There is a lot of demand in the area, so in a way they may have just given us a little push.
Hopefully this will mean we can all get on with it amicably and avoid the need for a dispute.
Thanks everyone for your input. Hopefully the discussion will help to inform others and be of use to them too.

Ian Ringrose

16:26 PM, 27th January 2015
About 6 years ago

There loft conversion may put so much load on the wall, that it can not also support your loft conversion...

James Hargreaves

16:29 PM, 27th January 2015
About 6 years ago

Not a problem. Be aware that under the Party Wall Act if you do decide to build your extension on the new wall you will a) need to serve notice at the time and b) pay 50% of the costs of building the wall. These costs are only payable at the time of building your extension on the new wall though; you don't pay anything to the neighbour up to that point.

Ian Ringrose

17:01 PM, 27th January 2015
About 6 years ago

Unless you agree otherwise in the party wall agreement that allows them to take down and rebuild your garden wall, as well as work from your land.

Dr Rosalind Beck

18:10 PM, 27th January 2015
About 6 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Ian Ringrose" at "27/01/2015 - 16:26":

Ian. Being technically challenged, I don't understand what you mean. Can you explain it in a way comprehensible to dummies?

Ian Ringrose

18:51 PM, 27th January 2015
About 6 years ago

Read up on the party wall act.

He needs your agreement or you can delay his work for 2 months. You can get him to agree to giving you rights to use the wall for example, in exchange for you not stopping work for 2 months.

Dr Rosalind Beck

19:47 PM, 27th January 2015
About 6 years ago

Sorry Ian. I was referring to your earlier comment about too much load being put on the wall that it would prevent us from also being able to have a loft conversion - I didn't understand that.

Mark Alexander

20:20 PM, 27th January 2015
About 6 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Rosalind " at "27/01/2015 - 19:47":

Hi Rosalind

When responding to a comment please click on the orange button which says "reply to this comment".

The will then notify the person you are responding to and create a link back to the correct comment, thus avoiding confusion as to which comment you are referencing or questioning.

When making a comment which is unrelated to other comment then use the comment box only.

I've posted this in open forum as other members can also benefit from this advice 🙂

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