Considering expanding your home? If you're looking to extend, but worried that your neighbours might object to the work and prevent it from going ahead, then keep reading!
In this article we will consider the reasons why some neighbours may object to your proposed extension to your home, what your rights and their rights are and how you can best handle the situation.
Do I have to notify my neighbours of my house extension?
You are likely wondering whether you should notify your neighbours out of courtesy or if you are legally obligated to notify them.
Well, while you are not legally obligated to inform your neighbours when you’re making an application for planning permission, to avoid the risk of upsetting your neighbours, it may be advisable to inform them of your plans to extend your home.
However, it’s important to note that you must notify your neighbours of any house extension work being carried out that affects their property, if the work is near or on a boundary shared by both properties, this is what is known as a party wall, more of which we will dilate on further on in this article.
Why do some neighbours object to home extensions?
There are many reasons why your neighbour may object to your house extension, let’s consider some of the most common ones:
A loss of natural light and privacy.
Noise and disruption from the builders.
Concerned about the effect on their house value.
Fear of damage to their property
Issues with the design
Potential complications and financial repercussions that may arise and affect your neighbours if they plan to extend or renovate their own home in the future.
In the case of a planning application, only a few of these reasons are taken into consideration by the planning office, so let's decipher whether you need planning permission at all.
Do I need planning permission for my home extension?
There are some extensions that do not require planning permission. According to the Planning Portal, “rules, known as ‘permitted development’ rights, allow you to extend a house without needing to apply for planning permission if specific limitations and conditions are met.”
Permitted development rights is a scheme granted by the Government to allow homeowners to extend their home without the need for planning permission provided that the extension project complies with a specific set of guidelines.
In general, permitted development rights apply to single storey side or rear extensions, loft conversions, front porch extensions, outbuildings, and dormer windows.
Some projects, however, are exempt from permitted development rights and will require that you apply for planning permission. This applies if your property is a:
A property in a conservation area can build an extension under Permitted Development, however, they face much greater restrictions (‘Article 4’ direction).
It’s important to take note, that even if you don’t require planning permission, you will need building regulations approval.
If in doubt, you can contact your local planning authority (LPA).
What if my extension does require planning permission?
If your home extension project requires you to make a planning application, your local council will consult your neighbours for their views.
Your neighbours can contact the council on the planning application and make their comments. They have 21 days to do this, known as the public consultation period.
How long does it usually take to get planning permission?
Unless your application is complex or exceptionally large, your planning application should usually be granted in eight weeks. However, if there are complexities, this may be extended to 13 weeks.
Why might the local authority refuse planning permission?
There are numerous reasons why your local authority may refuse planning permission, these can include but are not limited to:
Impact on the neighbouring properties such as overshadowing or loss of privacy
Size and bulk in comparison to the surrounding area
Negative impact on the environment
Negative effect on the character and appearance of the existing property or the area
Has an impact on protected trees
What can I do if planning permission is rejected?
If the reasons for refusal are ambiguous or if you’re not happy with them, it might be worth speaking to your LPA to find out if changing your plans might make a difference and whether you can modify them and resubmit your application. Resubmission is often free if it is done within 12 months of the decision on your first application, however, this would need to be discussed with your local authority.
Another option is appealing the decision, however, this is proposed as a last resort as they can take several months to decide. If you do decide to appeal, it must be submitted six months from the date of the application decision letter.
For more information on planning permission, read the article Planning Permissions for Extensions in London.
Even if planning permission is granted or your extension falls under permitted development, there could potentially still be an issue with the party wall agreement.
What is a party wall agreement and how does this affect me?
Firstly, you need to determine whether the Party Wall etc. Act 1996 applies to your project. If you share a fence or a wall with your neighbour or if your project plans involve excavating the ground near or at the boundary of your respective homes, you might need a Party Wall Agreement. This is a contract between two neighbouring properties that sets out the terms and conditions under which work can be carried out at the boundary of their respective homes.
If a Party Wall Agreement is required, you must give your neighbour notice between 2 months and a year before you plan to begin building works.
Once you have given your neighbour notice, they 14 days to respond to the notice. Try and make it as hassle free as possible for your neighbour by giving them a form they can respond with, as many people will not know how to formally reply.
You must have the confirmation IN WRITING within the 14 days or you automatically go into a dispute.
If any adjoining owner disputes the notices or does not reply within the 14 days, it means they are opposed, therefore, surveyors will need to be appointed and a party wall award will need to be made.
For further guidance on the Party Wall etc Act 1996, click here
Communicate with your neighbour
If possible, it is best to visit your neighbour right from the beginning to explain what you plan on doing and put their mind at ease to avoid a party wall agreement. Be sure to listen to their concerns and raise them with your builder.
Try to put yourself in their shoes, the works will be inconvenient and offer no benefit to them. Things will be much easier if you get them on board from the beginning.
In the large majority of cases, your neighbours cannot stop you from extending your home. You should, however, consider how you can minimise or diminish any conflict - which could cause disruptions, additional costs, and delays - right from the beginning.
Please note that this article is not a source of legal information. For further information, pertaining to your specific property, you may wish to contact your local planning authority before starting your build.