Neighbour's extension

24 Jul 2003
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United Kingdom
Have received a notice of planning application. I live in a standard semi, unextended. Neighbour has a 2 sotey side extension, now wants single storey rear extension. He is to my south so the building will cut a lot of light from my back room .

This will (I assume - haven't seen drawings yet) be a fairly normal sort of extension so I guess I'll have to put up with it. But are there any points I shiould be aware of to watch, such as height, extent, etc. Can this be safely left to control by planning dept??

Secondly, assuming his extension goes hard up to the boundary, would I be able to build something similar - can you have two walls with no gap between?
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If it a building permission drawing then you cannot object,if it a planning permission then you can as they have exceeded 70 cubic metres.
ChrisR said:
He is to my south so the building will cut a lot of light from my back room
To be honest I have done many building extension and very rarely you lose lights.My parents old house has a brand new property next to their kitchen window approx 3 ' away and amazing the lights area was not lost providing you've approx 45 degree angle from the corner of your window to the edge of their new building.If it a garage there's nothing you can do as it override everything as it come under building regulation and the council planning are keen to keep cars off the road.
So I guess I'll have to put up with it.
No,you don't have to put up with it but you're the one living there!
But are there any points I should be aware of to watch, such as height, extent, etc. Can this be safely left to control by planning dept??
Yes,they are guided by strict rules and regulations and very rarely do they make mistakes but check it out.
Secondly, assuming his extension goes hard up to the boundary, would I be able to build something similar - can you have two walls with no gap between?
You must have a minimum 150mm gap between the two walls for air-flow or if you're thinking in the future for having a extension you boths could come to some sort of agreement to have a single wall instead BUT get the details written on the plans or your property deeds incase they move on.

Go down to your local planning to discuss the drawing and have a chat,they're usually very helpful.

But having said that I don't know what the building regulation is in Antarctica :LOL: :LOL: :LOL:
Nobody, and ceertainly not your local council, can take away any rights you have Chris. Even if a neighbour gets planning permission and building regulations consent your individual rights remain. you have a right to light? Well I don't know, but assuming that your window has been where it is for the last 20 years it is a pretty safe bet that you do. The law on rights to light is quite complex, but in essence the first thing to consider is does the loss of light cause you any real loss. The courts have decided in the past that we are only entitled to a reasonable amount of light, so if you were a seamstress and needed lots of natural light to perform your trade a small loss may be isn't likely to be so as a residential owner, but it may be. Frankly you'll need advice from an expert who has seen your property and the proposed extension. If you have suffered an actionable loss, then the courts theoretically have two possible remedies....Either they can issue an injunction, preventing the loss (not very likely though as it is a remedy the courts are loathe to use), but more likely you would be awarded damages. In practice your expert and your neighbours expert would use well established criteria and a bit of horse trading and advise you both to settle out of court.

"Secondly, assuming his extension goes hard up to the boundary, would I be able to build something similar - can you have two walls with no gap between?"

Firstly the air flow thing suggested by masona is simply wrong. There is no such requirement in any legislation. You can have two walls hard against each other. The most important rights you and your neighbour have in this respect are contained in the Party Wall Etc Act 1996. You can look on this website for some information about the Act.
In a nutshell the Act gives your neighbour the right to build right up to the boundary and even project foundations under your land. He does not need your consent to do so, but he is required to serve notice on you under the Act if that is what he plans. If he does build it is his wall and you have no right to use it later.

He may, with your consent, build a wall astride the boundary. This wall will then be a party wall and you will have the right to use it later. However, you cannot force him to build the wall there. Moreover if or when you do use the wall for your own extension you will have to compensate the neighbour or his succesor.

If you do intend to build an extension yourself later then having this wall built astride the boundary makes good practical sense.
GwaiLo said:
Firstly the air flow thing suggested by masona is simply wrong.
I'm not up to date with the latest building regulations as you are ;),so regulations are changing all the time :!: When I done my parents extension few years ago,they had difficult neighbours who wouldn't agreed on having two walls hard together so 150mm minimum gap applied by building regulations at that time.
I too done my utility room extension and with a friendly neighbour's who gave me permission to build straight onto their walls but I refuses their kindly offer as I didn't want no hassles with damp problems or whatever plus touching their walls,so again the minimum 150mm gap applied from the drawing plan.I asked the building inspector and his reason was "you must have air-flow for damp,smell and drying out problems plus mine is a cavity wall which need air flow to the air vent brick",which to me does make sense. I can only go on by past experiences from my area and if it's wrong then it wasn't intended.
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My apologies if you thought I was simply critisising you. That wasn't my intention, I just wanted to give Chris the best advice I could and the "gap" thing was a bit misleading. There are circumstances in which a ventilated cavity is desirable, but it serves no purpose in a wall seperating two buildings.

I get the impression that quite a few who post advice here are tradesmen. Many of the posters give excellent advice about a whole range of subjects, and in many many instances they clearly know far more about things than I do.

However, being a Chartered Building Surveyor I have a range of experience and knowledge that provides a diferent perspective on some matters. Not infrequently I am paid to deal with the consequences of bad advice or design by builders (or indeed bad DIY by homeowners), often problems that become apparent many years after work has been done. Sometimes that bad advice results in physical defects, sometimes it results in legal disputes.

None of us can be experts in everything related to construction and property and I don't claim to be. I can't plaster a wall, but I know exactly how it should be done. I can design a heating system, but don't ask me to diagnose what is wrong with a boiler. I guess what I am saying is that good building is a team effort, the best design in the world doesn't work if the workmanship is poor and the best workmanship in the world won't compensate for poor design.

This site has the potential to help people avoid problems. I do worry that people resort to DIY when they really ought not to. It concerns me that most people seeking to get work done focus on how cheaply they can get it done rather than how well. It worries me that people embark on projects without really having any understanding of the risks and without getting professional advice. Whilst there are many things that unskilled people can safely do, there are also many that do need to skills of tradesmen and professionals and in some ways I hope my post has highlighted that. :D
No problem at all,welcome on board we need a Chartered Building Surveyor on this forum to knock us into shape sometime :LOL: :LOL:

I can see a time where a average diy'er will have to have some sort competent certified to carry out the job???.Sadly I spend most of my time correcting jobs that been carried out incorrectly.

Oh, while you're here :) Can we have your opinions on the post from thornabylad's under the heading "Plaster Cracks" in the "General Diy" section,I'll be interested to see what you think.

Steve/Masona et all,

This is my first post in the Fora.I found your advice beneficial particularly Steve's hi-tech and legal.
I intend to extend my 3 bed terr. (2 floors) by adding an extension and loft conversion, by (mostly) myself. Albeit, having many years of building trade experience through working in my own previously owned properties quite extensively, i however can do with some help and advise if pos.
I understand, that it would be better to start with the loft project first , for the purpose of an easier approval from the regulatories especially, because of my dormer option, rather than the reverse, but i am unsure. I intend to do a proper job without unnecessary expenditure. My next door (on left side) and next-door but one (right side) already has full professionally built dormer conversions.
I wonder if its possible to obtain a step by step guidance on procedures etc, from anywhere or anyone to accomplish this DIY project.
Thank you.]
Step by step guidance is something you will have to pay for.

For the moment lets just forget entirely about doing the building work and think about the pre contract issues. And I should add that I am about to tell you of the more obvious ones, there could be other issues that you need to think about.

Does your lease or deeds contain any restrictive covenants that may be relevant? This is suprisingly often the case. You may find that you either cannot develop, or that your development needs to have the consent of some other party.

Planning. Some parts of your proposed development may not require planning paermission. Nonetheless, as you may have to prove this was the case many years later, it is wise to obtain a certificate of lawful development from the local authority. It is also worth bearing in mind that the rules on permitted development (which most builders are familiar with) do not apply to all properties. In some instances those rights were withdrwan as part of the original planning consent. Other parts of your proposed development will require planning permission and what you can expect to gain permission for will depend upon a range of factors. You will need to be familiar with the sumplementary planning guindance issued by the local authority and have the requisite skills and experience to relate that to your particular proposals.

Assuming you get planning permission (and later building regulations consent) these alone do not give you the right to do what you have plannig/building consent for. Do you understand your obligations to your neighbours? Are you familiar with thier common law rights, such as the right to light and can you determine whether this may be an issue? Are you familiar with your obligations and your neighbours statutory rights, such as those under the Party Wall Etc, Act. 1996?

This may all seem unhelpful. However, it is not for fun that it takes Chartered Surveyors and Architects years to train and qualify. What you are asking is that I, or someone, talk you through each and every possible issue that may be relevant on a proposed development we have never seen.

I am happy to offer suggestions (never advice as anyone advising you can be sued whether you got the advice for free ot not) on a limited query. However, I am not prepared to provide my professional services for nothing. Of course we could do a trade. I want a loft conversion, you come and build that for free and I'll do what you need for free?......I'll assume that you, like me, don't work for nothing?

Honestly. There are times when it does not pay to be tight. If you are contemplating loft conversions or extensions pay for professional advice. I spend half my life dealing with the consequences of homeowners who try to save a few hundred quid by doing it without advice only to find that the consequences cost them thousands.

Even if you were not going to do the work yourself, and planned on using a builder, I would still advise that you consult a surveyor or architect. No disrespect meant to builders, but they really don't know much more than the very basics about the risks you are about to take. And I would be happy to discuss restrictive covenants, the Party Wall Act, or a dozen other matters with any builder who thinks he really does understand.

No matter how much you know the simple fact is that if you get it wrong it could cost you thousands of pounds. If you employ a professional you can sue him if he is negligent. And of course if he is a Chartered Surveyor or Architect (as against the Joe Bloggs advertising plans drawn for £200 in your local rag) he will ahve insurance that will pay out even if he has no money to compensate you.

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