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How to avoid being the nightmare neighbours

(22 Posts)
eyestightshut Sun 15-Jan-17 08:30:49

We bought our house in 2012. It's an end terrace of 3 houses with a structurally separate house next door. We want to extend our kitchen, and have beenooen about our intentions since we moved in. I'm looking for tips on how to minimise the inconvenence for out terrace neighbours as alll the materials will have to go through their back gardens to get to ours? The other thing I am not clear on is whther we need to think about the party wall act? Our kitchen is not connected to our terraced neighbours, rather it's on the side where our non terraced neighbours are iyswim. Thanks!

MiniCooperLover Sun 15-Jan-17 08:48:28

Well first off I'd ask permission so that you can in fact get your building materials through their gardens rather than just assume. How is that going to happen? A neighbour had a similar issue and everything was taken through the house in the end.

PurpleWithRed Sun 15-Jan-17 08:52:00

Leave their gardens better than they were before the building started. Cost in some kind of thank you - new fence, new plants, something the builders can do for them. Tell them the work is going to take twice as long as the builders say it will.

littlestar34 Sun 15-Jan-17 10:24:40

My understanding is that even if you are not joined but are building within a certain distance from your neighbours foundations (3 or 4m but can't remember!) you need to give notice via the party wall act. Your builder should be able to advise.

namechangedtoday15 Sun 15-Jan-17 10:25:13

Yes party wall act may apply. It doesn't necessary need to be touching their property, if you're going to be digging foundations deeper than the existing foundations, within 3m of their property, you need to adhere to the act. There's a very good booklet on

You usually won't know how deep the existing foundations are until you start work so in a similar situation, we served the notice anyway.

tinymeteor Sun 15-Jan-17 14:01:42

In my experience the one thing that winds up the neighbours most (besides noise, which you can't avoid) is parking issues. If possible ask the builders to park their van round the corner or across the street, especially if neighbours are old or have small children so would struggle with having to park further away.

dodgydonkeysdoodah Sun 15-Jan-17 17:46:12

Your assumption that all materials will go through neighbours' gardens suggests you may be on a collision course with them before you've even started! Far safer to assume that everything is going to come through your house (I certainly wouldn't want your builders tramping across my beloved garden for weeks / months on end over the summer - maybe one or two days under my supervision, but no more than that!).
My attached neighbour has been engaged on a major project for the best part of the last year and the worst thing has been his total lack of empathy for those living nearby (not just me, other neighbours too) .... the noise, dust, vibration, impeded privacy, early deliveries etc are all unpleasant but could have been so easily compensated for with a "please may I.....?" or "I'd like to .....", "thank you so much for......", "I know it's been a long, noisy week but I'm so grateful for your patience" - any or all of those (plus maybe a bottle of wine or box of chocs at regular intervals) would have smoothed the way immensely, as would keeping us up to date with timescales as they approach ("next week's going to be a noisy one I'm afraid" or "roofers starting on Thursday; you might want to remember to pull down your bathroom blind so they can't see in"; that kind of thing.
Just because your neighbours have known of your plans to extend for some time doesn't mean they'll feel joyous about it! Summer works are generally more obtrusive as people are more inclined to sit outside, may be revising for public exams etc etc - consider that kind of thing - just put yourselves in their shoes really.
Someone else has mentioned parking too which can be a biggie when spaces are in short supply and there are several different trades on site.
In short, you don't necessarily need to do anything differently; just be aware of and acknowledge neighbours' doubts and anxieties, and be generous with your platitudes. Remember your manners and ask nicely for things that may affect them rather than just announce this is what you are doing.
My relationship with my neighbour remains perfectly cordial on the surface but I know now he's an entitled, mannerless arse - I wouldn't want yours to think the same of you!

tinymeteor Sun 15-Jan-17 20:27:58

Hang on why do you need access to their gardens at all?

PinkSparklyPussyCat Mon 16-Jan-17 20:53:39

I'm sorry but I'd refuse to allow your builders to tramp across my garden!

JennyOnAPlate Mon 16-Jan-17 21:02:02

I wouldn't assume the neighbours will allow your builders through their garden; I wouldn't.

hugoagogo Mon 16-Jan-17 22:11:50

My neighbours spent a year doing up their house. The noise was immense they never asked, they never apologised, they acted like we were difficult when we asked them to please stop drilling over a bank holiday weekend.
We will always remember it and know they are rude and selfish there is no goodwill between us.

Graveyardkate Mon 16-Jan-17 22:39:16

If you don't want to piss them off, I think you really need to go the extra mile to be polite, considerate, grateful and upfront. Keep them informed with what you are doing, thank them profusely and continually, and just swallow and deal with any gripes. You can fume inside if you think they're being unreasonable, but smile sweetly and accommodate their requests!
A good neighbourly relationship is a very precious thing - and I don't know why, but however well you get on, a building project seems always to cause friction and stretch the friendship to the limit.
Remember, the neighbours suffer the long building process too, but have no handle on it and get no final benefit from it.

januarybooze Mon 16-Jan-17 22:41:31

Why wouldn't you allow the materials? Have you ever lived in a terrace? They have access!

OverAndAbove Mon 16-Jan-17 22:44:54

So do all the gardens join together? My brother lives in a terrace and there's a path along the back but you don't go through the neighbouring gardens to get in.

Presumably you're saying you have a right of access across their gardens? I think you may become public enemy number 1. Have any of them done building works before?

PimmsIsMyDrinkOfChoice Mon 16-Jan-17 22:47:53

Unless you have a Right of Way through their gardens, they don't have to let you. They might if you ask nicely.

We let our neighbours bring stuff through our garden as we had a driveway down the side of our house and they had no back access at all.
The box of 6 bottles of wine they gave us was very nice!

Graveyardkate Mon 16-Jan-17 23:49:30

As a previous poster has said above, it also depends whether it's one day of material bringing-through, or several weeks of unfettered access for deliveries. I for one would not be remotely keen on the latter. Pets, plants, privacy.... that's what my garden is about, not the ease of your build!

TwoAndTwoEqualsChaos Mon 16-Jan-17 23:54:16

The OP might have a right of access across the back of her Neighbours' gardens, if the terrace is old.

shovetheholly Tue 17-Jan-17 08:24:45

We are about to do an extension that will affect two close neighbours and we've been really careful about keeping them informed at every stage of the build, from the initial concept drawings through to the fine detail. We've let them choose what they want on the sides of our house that face their property and we've checked with them about fine details. As a result, we've had no problems through the planning process because we've already addressed concerns.

We will insist that the builder puts together a contract that allows us to take action if they have any complaints, be it parking or noise from radios etc. and we've asked them to tell us straight away if anything is bothering them. We'll drop them off a bottle of wine at the start of the build, and a £100 Crocus voucher for some plants at the end, since their gardens will be affected. I'll probably help the adjoining neighbours to plant those in a new bed as well.

I'm really hoping all of this means we'll still be friends at the end, and that they feel they can raise anything that is wrong. We're lucky in that they are lovely, reasonable people and the last thing I'd ever want is for them to feel unhappy. I know that the level of noise and intrusion are big asks, and they have been very generous in being supportive so far.

dodgydonkeysdoodah Tue 17-Jan-17 09:08:43

I wish you were my neighbour shovetheholly! Mine didn't even think to tell us he'd applied for planning permission and the council "forgot" to write to us, so the first we heard was a few days after the consultation period ended, when another neighbour asked if we'd objected!

shovetheholly Tue 17-Jan-17 09:10:07

dodgy - oh my goodness, that's totally rubbish! I'm surprised they didn't reopen the consultation period, given that you didn't receive a letter. People can't be expected constantly to check the council website just in case a neighbour is doing something. angry

MiniMaxi Tue 17-Jan-17 10:02:03

As PPS have said, assume materials will have to go through your own house rather than neighbour's garden. We live in a terrace and this is what our downstairs neighbour had to do when extending out the back.

Just as a rant as the "affected neighbour", we too didn't receive notice of the works from the council, and the sign on nearby lamppost had been turned away from the pavement so we didn't notice it. Doubt the council would've acted on our objection but still... Work started in May last year, with predicted duration of 12 weeks. Yep, still going! angry Rant over!

Needmoresleep Tue 17-Jan-17 12:09:56

You could look up the sort of conditions imposed under a Considerate Builders Scheme. (Westminster have one, but there will be others.)

This will set out things like the hours builders might start or finish, hours they might work during the weekend, when deliveries might arrive and so on. No on site radios if summer.

I allowed a neighbour to build along a boundary in a rental property, on condition he allowed me to use the same wall should I ever extend. The council imposed a considerate builders scheme as part of their planning permission.

However he moved out and left the builders to it. They took down the whole fence rather than the portion they needed to, started using my garden as a storage area, leered at the tenants if they attempted to use the garden, and even used to peer in the windows. And as they started to over run they worked through weekends, starting early. Even more frustrating there was no apology at the end of it, or a bottle of wine. Really grating given he worked for a wine merchants and had a whole house full of samples.

Luckily the tenants did not blame me, though I did have to then buy them the gift he should have given them. (Not from his firm obviously!)

So speak to neighbours, apologise in advance, don't assume access but ask politely and ideally offer them something in exchange like new fencing, and explain the guidelines under which the builders will operate and how they will be enforced, listening to any specific issues/problems your neighbours might have. Then a thank you afterwards as a way of repairing relations. Having a build next door is irritating however much you try to avoid problems.

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