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Neighbouring extension goes right up to the boundary. Can I block its side windows?

(23 Posts)
JamesJames Sun 01-Dec-19 10:16:30

I'd like to buy, and build a side-return extension on, the house in the attached picture (I know, it looks unglamorous from the rear, but I promise you it's not a bad house!). The extension would be within permitted development rights.

As you can see from the picture, the neighbouring property has also had a side return extension built (in a conservatory style) with windows facing the boundary. That means that if I built the extension I want, the neighbouring extension's side windows would be completely blocked from any light (they'd face a brick wall a few inches away).

Would there be anything to prevent me from doing that? I appreciate it would most likely mightily annoy the neighbour, but frankly even if I weren't wanting to build an extension I would still want to block those side windows with fencing purely for privacy reasons (they look straight into the glazed kitchen door of the property I hope to buy).

DeepDarkWoods Sun 01-Dec-19 10:20:54

Is their window sill over the boundary? It looks like the down pipe has been replaced and moved over. Its difficult to see.

user1471505356 Sun 01-Dec-19 10:45:56

No problem but I would mention it to your neighbour first.

Winterdaysarehere Sun 01-Dec-19 10:47:18

When our extension ended at ndn we had to add privacy glass on their side.

KatzP Sun 01-Dec-19 10:50:28

I expect they have put that up as a conservatory and not had planning or pd approval. They should not have put windows like that on the boundary. My parents have a conservatory going to the boundary (and we used to have one. It was brick with small windows at the very top of the wall so privacy wasn’t an issue.

BreakfastAtSquiffanys Sun 01-Dec-19 10:52:39

I don't think they can stop you building but you would have to step yours back from the boundary purely to be able to do the brickwork.
Even immaculate brickwork will look shit from their side. More so if it's breeze block.
If I were them, I would appreciate a heads up, and if you get planning permission, th4 conservatory owner would be wise to either replace with privacy glass or opaque panels

madcatladyforever Sun 01-Dec-19 11:03:43

Building regs don't allow windows looking into someone's garden. Are you sure they got planning permisiion?
I wasn't even allowed to build steps from the double door of the kitchen into the garden because it meant we could see into the neighbours garden when we went out. I had to build enclosed steps down the side of the kitchen extension which was pretty much another extension so we couldn't see into either garden. It was a right faff.

mumwon Sun 01-Dec-19 11:05:09

foundations extend further out from under brickwork ie they are wider underneath - so how would that work?

Lemond1fficult Sun 01-Dec-19 11:09:04

I wouldn't buy this at all. It seems like you're going to have a shit neighbourly relationship whatever happens. If it has planning permission you're going to piss them off by blocking their windows. If they don't, there's a good chance you'll have to report them and they'll be pissed off. If you're not bothered, go for it, but it seems like an unnecessary hassle.

mumwon Sun 01-Dec-19 11:12:42

its also probable that his extend that his extend towards your property - its always something people forget, so basically when you do foundations they are bigger than the building on top - our dnighbour put through plans to build on our boundary but we explained (difference in level between our houses) that if they did that the foundations would be over on our side of the boundary & would affect ground drain on our side - his new plans meant they were further back from boundary - which is acceptable

mumwon Sun 01-Dec-19 11:13:08

doh! neighbour!

SoupDragon Sun 01-Dec-19 11:20:58

If it is joined to the neighbour's house (and it looks like it is) might it be possible to replace the wall of their conservatory with one of solid construction so the two extensions are joined like the rest of the house?

I've no idea whether this is possible or advisable.

Dollymixture22 Sun 01-Dec-19 11:34:26

Can you look up the planning permission system online to see how this was allowed. Where I live it’s all available online and you can search by address (all correspondence is uploaded). that conservatory extension Would never have been permissible.

Get advice from your solicitor on this one, find out of there were complaints when the conservatory was erected.

Movinghouseatlast Sun 01-Dec-19 11:39:44

You need to really look into the Party Wall Act. There is a lot to read on Gov.org. Also, post this on the Garden Law forum. There are lots of surveyors and lawyers who post there who really know their stuff.

The neighbours have built up to the boundary, so can you. I think you can do your side return under permitted development, but the party wall act would still apply.

However, they are not going to like having their windows blocked. Whoever buys the house, extension plan or no extension plan, there is going to be a difficulty as any survey will bring up the issue of the neighbours windows looking into the garden.

The vendors should really be looking to sort this out with the neighbour before any sale.

If all sorted out best case scenario you could have a lovely extension with a shared wall with the neighbours.

If not sorted out worst case scenario would be a hideous neighbour dispute, legal wrangling that costs you an arm and a leg and a terrible relationship with people you have to see every day.

As someone who has recently moved due to the absolute and utter hell caused by a neighbour who built his extension ignoring the party wall act (and destroying my garden in the process) I would advise you to ensure legal stuff is in place before you buy.

The neighbour may have broken the law, but enforcing the law is costly, time consuming and upsetting. I ended up on anti depressants and spending thousands I didn''t have.

JamesJames Sun 01-Dec-19 11:40:29

Wow, thanks for all the replies.

A couple of people have mentioned planning permission. The answer is that the neighbour didn't have planning permission (I've searched the local council register) but I think this is a red herring as (i) his extension would've been within permitted development rights so no planning permission would've been necessary (I can't see anything about ground floor side windows in relation to PD rights) and (ii) the extension looks like it's been there for well over the four years so even if planning permission had been necessary it's now immune from enforcement.

I think the main thing I am concerned about is whether the neighbour could benefit from a legal "right to light" in relation to those windows. On basic research I think the windows would've had to have been there and have received uninterrupted light for 20 years or more (from a glance at the neighbour's extension I'd say it's borderline that the extension could be that age). I presume a "right to light" would trump my permitted development rights to put up an extension or a fence. That said, given the circumstances I'm not convinced a court would grant an injunction to stop me from building (maybe nominal damages).

Dollymixture22 Sun 01-Dec-19 12:04:08

Maybe not the house for you😊

Gingernaut Sun 01-Dec-19 12:08:24

That side with windows should have been a solid wall.

Tricky. If your heart is set on the house, it's going to require a painstaking tiptoe round the law and the neighbours' feelings

Movinghouseatlast Sun 01-Dec-19 12:22:22

Do re-post on Garden Law, they will know the right to light answer.

wowfudge Mon 02-Dec-19 09:07:40

I wouldn't buy that at all. As you say, there's no privacy with that conservatory style extension next door. You couldn't even put a fence up along the boundary line. I foresee nothing but issues which may be costly or just impossible to resolve.

My first house had the ndn's extension right along the boundary line, but there were no windows, or I wouldn't have bought it, and it ended in line with the extension on my house.

SoupDragon Mon 02-Dec-19 09:13:42

It would be easy enough to screen the windows though. I don't think it is a reason to dismiss it out of hand but there may be better houses.

PrayingandHoping Mon 02-Dec-19 09:39:37

My motto is never buy a problem.... you've got to think about the resale. If you fall out with the neighbours you will have to declare it. Not worth it. There are other houses out there

GOODCAT Tue 03-Dec-19 09:25:30

We are in a similar situation but in your neighbour's position not yours. We do have a right to light and have said so to the neighbour who now dislikes us. We didn't put the extension up and it isn't right to the boundary. It isn't great falling out with neighbours so personally I wouldn't buy into this situation where you are guaranteed to upset them.

user1471505356 Tue 03-Dec-19 10:32:57

Given that it is a conservatory and has lots of light your new build would not have a significant affect.

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