People are increasingly choosing not to sell their homes, deciding to stay put and renovate or add an extension. A consequence is that it can lead to arguments with the neighbours.
Just ask Robbie Williams and the Duchess of Cornwall. Williams was so cross with his neighbour Jimmy Page, the Led Zeppelin guitarist, over his objections to Williams’ plans to build a mega-basement under his mansion in Holland Park, west London, that he resorted to playing Black Sabbath music loudly to taunt him.
Meanwhile, the duchess last week lost a long-running battle to stop her neighbour from building a granny flat. The neighbour applied for planning permission to demolish an outbuilding and build a flat for his elderly mother, and the duchess wasn’t happy. The home in question is next to the duchess’s grade II listed Rey Mill House in Wiltshire, where she lived before marrying Prince Charles.
So what could the neighbours of Williams and the duchess have done differently? Here is our guide to keeping on the good side of your neighbours when renovating your home.
The words “I’m going to create a basement” is guaranteed to stress out your neighbours and immediately put them on the back foot. Bearing this in mind, it is still a good idea to talk to your neighbours about your plans at an early stage. “Ask them over for a glass of wine and tell them why you feel it is necessary to extend,” says Carol Peett, the managing director of West Wales Property Finders, a buying agency.
“Tell them you are having a baby and need more room, or you want to be able to extend your kitchen so it is a more sociable space. Show them your drawings and get their thoughts. Asking for their input makes them feel involved and is more likely to get them onside.”
If you know there are going to be days when building work will be particularly noisy — lorries coming that might block your neighbour’s driveway, or dusty jobs are happening — let your neighbours know and apologise. “It is amazing how much more tolerant and amenable neighbours are if they are pre-warned of upcoming disruption,” Peett says.
Parking problems and street mess seem to upset neighbours the most, says Melanie Clear, the founder of Clear Architects.
She says that an incentive for keeping things civil is that if you are applying for planning permission, your case will be strengthened if your neighbours don’t object.
Employ courteous builders
Make it clear to the builders you hire that they are to be considerate and they should try to keep noise levels down — no blaring radios or shouting — and restrict very noisy jobs to between 9am and 5pm on weekdays. Encourage your builder to communicate with your neighbour, such as giving them warning if they need to block a drive, for example.
Ask if your neighbours want to join forces and do some building work at the same time. One client of Arlington Residential, an estate agency in St John’s Wood, north London, told their neighbour of their plans to dig a new lower floor and their neighbour responded by choosing to do the same, saving them both money on architect’s and builder’s fees.
Lurot Brand, an estate agency that sells mews homes in central London, says that it has had clients simultaneously add an extra floor to their homes. Doing it together strengthened their planning application.
“If there is anything that may affect the structure of a neighbouring property, be it a shared wall, a boundary or garden wall, you must serve a party-wall notice and have a party-wall agreement,” Peett says. Hire a party-wall surveyor, whose role it is to prepare a schedule of condition of your neighbour’s property before any work starts. It is essential that this schedule is done accurately so any subsequent damage can be properly attributed. If both parties wish to employ their own surveyor, the schedule is prepared by the homeowner doing the work and proofed by the adjoining owner’s surveyor.
Nigel Mitchell, an estate agent at Knight Frank, knows of a homeowner who offered to replace the roof on their neighbour’s home after they put up with building work, and in particular not always being able to access their drive, for a year. Others opt for cheaper gestures, such as cleaning windows during or after the work. Not all gestures are financial. “A few years ago a client agreed to delay the building works for a few months as one of the neighbours’ children had their GCSEs,” says Chris Mullins, the manager of Hamptons International in Muswell Hill, north London. “If there is any opportunity to offer small improvements to a neighbour’s property, or communal areas, do it.”
https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/how-to-keep-the-neighbours-happy-during-building-work-bdlxjdzss The Times Friday 25th January
If you are thinking of moving to Pembrokeshire, Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion or Gower, or buying a property here, give West Wales Property Finders a call on 01834 862816. We can find your perfect property for you whilst saving you time, stress and often money. http://www.westwalespropertyfinders.co.uk