Stay on good terms during renovations
Building work can be a key cause of disputes but good communication and compliance with regulations can help you to stay on good terms with your neighbours.
There comes a time when most of us want to make improvements to our homes, but before you start any building works you may want to consider how it could impact on your relationship with your neighbours.
Leading cause of tensions
Neighbourly tensions can be caused by a number of different things – excessive noise, unruly children, problem pets, to name just a few – but one of the leading causes of neighbour disputes is building work and renovations.
With noise, dust, and potential access and parking problems, any significant building work can bring disruption and misery to those living nearby. And it can be particularly stressful for those neighbours who work from home or who need to sleep during the day due to shift work.
Know your boundaries
In addition to the above, disputes over boundaries often arise during building works, and can be a key cause of arguments between neighbours. It can also prove potentially costly if your neighbours decide to take their complaint to the courts.
In order to avoid this it’s important to establish exactly who owns the land and where any boundaries lie. The best way of doing this is to look at the property deeds rather than relying on the Land Registry title plan. However, it can sometimes be difficult to determine the exact boundary of a property, so if that’s the case it might be worth seeking legal advice.
Problems can be particularly tricky to resolve if they involve a shared boundary or party wall. In these cases the Party Wall Act should be your first port of call. This 1996 legislation deals specifically with boundary issues and provides a framework for resolving disputes as well as a procedure to follow to help prevent any disputes arising in the first place.
If you are planning to do work on a party wall you are legally obliged to give notice to your neighbours. The Act also recommends discussing with your neighbour first and then putting your request in writing. It also advises homeowners to always hire the services of an independent party wall surveyor before commencing any work.
As well as ensuring any technicalities such as boundary issues are dealt with properly, there also other steps you can take to minimise the possibility of disputes.
First and foremost, be considerate to your neighbours. Make sure they’re aware of the work – when it will start, what it involves, when it’s likely to end – and remember to keep them informed if there are likely to be any delays.
Try your best to limit noise and disruption as much as possible. The general rule of thumb is that building work should only take place between 8am and 6pm during the week, between 8am and 1pm on a Saturday and not at all on a Sunday, unless it’s an emergency. This is a code rather than legally binding, but abiding by it can go a long way towards keeping your neighbours happy.
Most importantly, try to keep open the lines of communication between you and your neighbours throughout the duration of the work. Ask them to come to you with any concerns so that you can catch any issues early on, work out a way forward, and prevent bad feeling from escalating.
Disputes with neighbours can be stressful and really affect your quality of life. And with any dispute having to be declared as part of a house sale, it could even affect the value of your home. With this in mind, it’s just common sense to do all you can to stay on good terms.
Ultimately, it all comes down to communication. By talking with neighbours and making them aware of your plans before you start work you can avoid arguments, and potentially costly disputes, further down the line.