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My Neighbour's Home Improvements: Can I Object?

By: Sarah Clark (ILEX) - Updated: 7 Jun 2017 | comments*Discuss
 
Planning Permission Permission Work

UK law does support the adage that an Englishman’s home is his castle, so in most cases your neighbour is perfectly entitled to add to and take away from his property at will, so long as the adaptations that he makes don’t impinge on your own castle!

It’s perfectly acceptable to make minor changes to your property without planning permission, by putting up walls and fences, for example. This sort of work is classed as part of your 'permitted development rights'.

In October 2008, these rights were extended so that they cover more building projects. The sort of work that can now be carried out without having to apply for permission includes:

  • Conservatories
  • Home extensions
  • Installing solar panels
  • Roof alterations
  • Laying patios and driveways

Some of the work, such as conservatories and extensions, does have to comply with regulations that take into account the dimensions or the position. If you think Your Neighbour's Work Doesn't Comply With Regulations, you can check the legal position on the UK Government Planning Portal website.

Projects that do Need Planning Permission

  • Extending a flat or maisonette
  • Dividing off part of your house to be used as a separate home (self-contained flat, for example)
  • Building a completely separate house in your garden
  • Dividing off part of your home to use as business or commercial premises, like a workshop, or adding a parking space for a commercial vehicle
  • Anything that could obstruct the view of road users
  • Anything that might need a new or wider access to a trunk or classified road

Loft Conversions

Under the new rules, you no longer need permission for conversions that don't exceed 50 cubic metres, if you live in a detached or semi-detached home and the conversion will not go within 20cm of the eaves. However, any work your neighbour does which might impact on the structural strength or support of any party wall (a wall that sits on the boundary line between you) must be notified to you in writing, giving you a chance to inspect the plans and make sure they don’t impinge on your property.

Party walls are covered by the Party Wall Act of 1996, which clarifies the procedures that anyone has to follow if they intend to make any changes to a party wall. It says that any works carried out to a party wall have to be agreed in writing at least two months before the work starts. If you’re the neighbour being notified, you have a duty under the law to not be ‘unduly obstructive’, so if you have a reason for objecting to the work, it has to be valid, and can’t just be that you don’t want to put up with the noise of the workmen, for example!

Conservatories and Extensions

Around 60% of conservatories will need planning permission due to their size and location. If the planned conservatory takes up more than 50% of the available land, or faces a road, then it’s going to need to be approved. If it’s being built on the side elevation, it’s not allowed to be more than 50% of the total height of the house without permission. There are also regulations that set out the total allowable height and depth of a conservatory, depending on whether the property is detached or semi detached. You can find all these regulations on the Planning Portal.

Extensions are also subject to similar regulations, and again if your neighbours planned work falls within the guidelines there is no legal need for him or her to ask your permission or seek planning permission.

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We live in a detached property. Our neighbours house is at right angles to ours, at the bottom of our garden. They are having a dormer loft conversion, the windows of which are overlooking our garden. I have been to the local council today, and apparently they do not need planning permission, but do need building regs, which they have, the only stipulations are that the windows are glazed with obscuring/frosted glass, and that the openers are a minimum of 1.7m from the floor of the conversion. I am guttted! It will increase the value of their property, but ours will be reduced.
Beanyjeany - 7-Jun-17 @ 7:34 PM
Mary - Your Question:
I live in a Victorian semi - my immediate neighbours have taken a huge dislike to me and I can only assume it's because I take care of my house, had the outside painted, cleaned up the garden etc, since moving in 4 years ago. I am a widow, my son lives with me and is out at work all day so the house is a very quiet one. Despite this these neighbours continually harass and threaten me saying I have done something to my house to make it deliberately noisy. My question is do I have to tell them that I am getting a carpenter in to put new skirtings boards and cornice up in the one bedroom that is without its original features - it isn't carpeted and I want to get that done so that I can sell up and move away. I know they will give me and any workmen they see here such a hard time. They literally scream abuse at me - I just need to know my rights.

Our Response:
Of course you can. As long as it's not after 11pm at night or really early in the morning, your neighbours should not have cause to complete (although from the sounds of things, they'll probably do so anyway).
ProblemNeighbours - 17-Feb-17 @ 12:23 PM
I live in a Victorian semi - my immediate neighbours have taken a huge dislike to me and I can only assume it's because I take care of my house, had the outside painted, cleaned up the garden etc, since moving in 4 years ago. I am a widow, my son lives with me and is out at work all day so the house is a very quiet one. Despite this these neighbours continually harass and threaten me saying I have done something to my house to make it deliberately noisy. My question is do I have to tell them that I am getting a carpenter in to put new skirtings boards and cornice up in the one bedroom that is without its original features - it isn't carpeted and I want to get that done so that I can sell up and move away. I know they will give me and any workmen they see here such a hard time. They literally scream abuse at me - I just need to know my rights.
Mary - 16-Feb-17 @ 10:35 AM
Hello. We have a one bedroom loft conversion in a semi-detached house.However our neighbour has been given permission by the council to build a 2 bedroom and office (thus 3 rooms) loft conversion which will be much bigger than our and will therefore block out most of our sunlight as the conversion will cover the entire length of the whole back part of the house. Question: Q1) Is there any point of law to dispute regarding sunlight? Q2) Under the Party Wall Act, he has not given us any agreement.I understand that he has to at least 2 months before work commences.But scaffolding is already up! Could we imposed for planned works to stop until he gives us the agreement and we read it?Also how long do we have to read it before signing and returning it? Q3) If the agreement involves a surveyor can we appoint our own independent surveyor, or is one imposed on us from his building company. Q4) These houses were originally designed as 3 bedroom houses, but his will become an 8 bedroom house putting pressure on street parking.Is there any point to go on from here? Grateful for advice. Perpetua
PERPETUA - 6-Feb-17 @ 9:41 PM
I moved into my house a few months ago and just recently one of the neighbours has removed their garden wall exposing their house to mine and now they look right into my garden and conservatory, is there anything I can do about this?
Warren - 29-Dec-16 @ 7:01 PM
I live in a detached bungalow.My new neighbours applied for planning permission for a front porch, a side extension and permitted developement for an extension at the rear of 8 meters.He then informed me that he is also doing a dormer without planning permission.He has gone ahead with all of these extensions the latter one is enormous although it is 35 cubic feet, it is overshadowing my property and completely taken away my privacy in my garden.My bedroom, bathroom and kitchen can now be looked into from the side windows.The building is approx 3 meters from the boundary and 4 meters from my windows.I contacted the council and the total roof space combined is 75 cubic feet, permitted developement is 50 cubic feet. The council have written to him and asked him to remove the dormers. He obviously does not want to do this and to be honest I would not expect him too.I just want him to put obscure glass in the windows of which I have issues with.He is not prepared to do this he has insisted that the window overlooking my garden will remain clear glass and that he will be altering the extension at the side of my property to stop him having to apply for full planning for the dormer.By it being a permitted developement means that I cannot object to the window which is my aim.Can he alter the property that is already built and make alterations to accommodate a permitted development once planning has been granted without going back to planning?The dormer has 8 windows and 3 roof lights.I am not being unreasonable by wanting my privacy to which I should be entitled to under the human rights act article 8.He has flouted the permitted development rights but I am being blamed for raising an objection to the windows which he states that the enforcement team would not have come round if I had not raised the issue. I must add that he has not built the extensions in accordance to the plans which were originally submitted.
Addy - 27-Dec-16 @ 12:13 AM
Concerned - Your Question:
I live in a row of staggered terraced houses and my neighbour is planning to convert his loft and add a dormer. The work will involve raising the height of his roof and joining it onto my own roof. I have told him in writing that I do not give permission for his building work to impinge on my property. His response is that when he gets planning permission his builders will be erecting the scaffolding to commence work. Do I have the right to stop this happening. I have no problem with him having the dormer but not raising the height of his roof. I fear that this could weaken my 100+ year old roof causing ongoing problems and would also be detrimental to the look of the terrace. I would love some professional advice on this. Thank you

Our Response:
You would have to take legal action to prevent this if you cannot discuss it amicably unfortunately.
ProblemNeighbours - 21-Dec-16 @ 12:27 PM
I live in a row of staggered terraced houses and my neighbour is planning to convert his loft and add a dormer.The work will involve raising the height of his roof and joining it onto my own roof.I have told him in writing that I do not give permission for his building work to impinge on my property.His response is that when he gets planning permission his builders will be erecting the scaffolding to commence work.Do I have the right to stop this happening.I have no problem with him having the dormer but not raising the height of his roof.I fear that this could weaken my 100+ year old roof causing ongoing problems and would also be detrimental to the look of the terrace.I would love some professional advice on this.Thank you
Concerned - 20-Dec-16 @ 2:38 PM
I have been trying to get a surveyor or professional to give a statement or report of the problems I have experience with the neighbour mass of buildings and it seems there is no plan or where the surface water is to be taken to.So in fact my place as I am lower in ground level is being used for this person in direction his water to run down to the edge, or corners knowing that it will come this way.The problem I have had although I have had surveyor and very professional people, they come here and see and take photos the see evidence and yet I asked have information but then I don't hear anything more.The last told me they were in it for the long haul, but that was 5 months ago and still nothing.Can anyone suggest what I can do to get this report or statement of truth? Thank you Jack
jack - 3-Dec-16 @ 4:45 PM
Jen - Your Question:
I live in a 1st floor flat of a converted house my neighbour in the ground floor flat underneath me is having his conservatory replaced, the roof of the old one was only 10 inches underneath my windowsill, so quite clearly was in my floor space. The new one is in the process of going up is the pitch of the roof of this one going to again be in my floor space and I can open my window and touch the roof? Legally how high can the roof be? I have tried searching and all it tells me is about when people are putting up a conservatory on their home when they own the whole house. Help please

Our Response:
Privately owned flats within buildings are usually owned "leasehold". Assuming you own the leasehold of the flat, you own the "demised premised" which means everything within the walls of the flat, including floorboards, internals of walls/ceilings etc It doesn't usually include the external walls or structure. The mains structure and the land are owned by the freeholder, who is often responsible for the maintenance and repair of the building. You should therefore contact the freeholder for advice on the issue with your neighbour's structure.
ProblemNeighbours - 23-Nov-16 @ 10:01 AM
I live in a 1st floor flat of a converted house my neighbour in the ground floor flat underneath me is having his conservatory replaced, the roof of the old one was only 10 inches underneath my windowsill, so quite clearly was in my floor space. The new one is in the process of going up is the pitch of the roof of this one going to again be in my floor space and I can open my window and touch the roof? Legally how high can the roof be? I have tried searching and all it tells me is about when people are putting up a conservatory on their home when they own the whole house. Help please
Jen - 22-Nov-16 @ 10:29 AM
Nicola - Your Question:
Hi. We own a semi-detached property in a row of 6 in a rural setting. The adjoining property has recently been rented out to a builder who proceeded last weekend to rip up the front garden to form a new driveway which to our horror is now housing a giant mercedes sprint van. It is visible from our bedroom, sitting room and obscures the view from our garden (was green fields and neighbours gardens before). Is there anything we can do? We plan to attempt to politely ask them to move it, but, we know that the landlord let the builder move in on the premise that he put in a new bathroom for them (for nothing) if they let him do the drive so he had somewhere to put his van. Help?

Our Response:
Unless there are local planning laws preventing this (the construction of the driveway and/or parking commercial vehicles), unfortunately there isn't much you can do about this.
ProblemNeighbours - 17-Nov-16 @ 2:21 PM
Hi. We own a semi-detached property in a row of 6 in a rural setting. The adjoining property has recently been rented out to a builder who proceeded last weekend to rip up the front garden to form a new driveway which to our horror is now housing a giant mercedes sprint van. It is visible from our bedroom, sitting room and obscures the view from our garden (was green fields and neighbours gardens before). Is there anything we can do? We plan to attempt to politely ask them to move it, but, we know that the landlord let the builder move in on the premise that he put in a new bathroom for them (for nothing) if they let him do the drive so he had somewhere to put his van. Help?
Nicola - 16-Nov-16 @ 6:50 PM
Tony - Your Question:
My neighbours having a loft conversion; day 1 the scaffolders parked on my drive completely blocking it and preventing my wife from parking. When I got home I asked them to move the truck - it ended with them threatening my son and the Police were called.We now have water pouring through OUR roof as they have taken the roof tiles off - now reason as to why as the building works don't go anywhere near this area.Can I stop this work until such time as we meet up, sort out standards and ideally see if any repairs need doing to our house?

Our Response:
You may need to get a court order or solicitor's letter if the neighbour/builder will not voluntarily agree to this. You insurance company might be able to help too, especially if water is coming in and potentially damaging your property.
ProblemNeighbours - 14-Nov-16 @ 11:15 AM
My neighbours having a loft conversion; day 1 the scaffolders parked on my drive completely blocking it and preventing my wife from parking.When I got home I asked them to move the truck - it ended with them threatening my son and the Police were called. We now have water pouring through OUR roof as they have taken the roof tiles off - now reason as to why as the building works don't go anywhere near this area. Can I stop this work until such time as we meet up, sort out standards and ideally see if any repairs need doing to our house?
Tony - 12-Nov-16 @ 11:33 AM
kmz125 - Your Question:
I own a semidetached bungalow, we got permission to build 6m rear extension and after extension we left with 3m rear area from the our rear boundary fence (we got very large side garden approx 22*14=308 sq meter). Now after looking into Permitted Development rules my builder suggested that we are fully entitle to build a garden room with maximum height of 2.5m and it will be within about 27-30 sq meter. which will be like a long room by leaving a walkway to separate it from our main house by approx 0.8m. Now he suggested we can cover that 800cm by using glass roofs again height will be remain as 2.5m plus its excess will remain from outside can take off the wall and it will increase more space. It will be no excess from inside the house. Can someone advise if it is right as I do not wanted to go through planning permission thing, wanted to keep it maximum height of 2.5 m plus make sure it should not be more than 30sq meter. Many thanks

Our Response:
We can't give individual advice on things like this as we don't have access to your full details, plot size etc. You need to consult a planning officer, who will be able to advise you whether or not to submit a planning application.
ProblemNeighbours - 9-Nov-16 @ 10:23 AM
I own a semidetached bungalow, we got permission to build 6m rear extension and after extension we left with 3m rear area from the our rear boundary fence (we got very large side garden approx 22*14=308 sq meter). Now after looking into Permitted Development rules my builder suggested that we are fully entitle to build a garden room with maximum height of 2.5m and it will be within about 27-30 sq meter. which will be like a long room by leaving a walkway to separate it from our main house by approx 0.8m. Now he suggested we can cover that 800cm by using glass roofs again height will be remain as 2.5m plus its excess will remain from outside can take off the wall and it will increase more space. It will be no excess from inside the house. Can someone advise if it is right as I do not wanted to go through planning permission thing, wanted to keep it maximum height of 2.5 m plus make sure it should not be more than 30sq meter. Many thanks
kmz125 - 8-Nov-16 @ 4:54 AM
Daz - Your Question:
I have a 4 bed detached house with a detached double garage on a corner plot fairly large garden. I would like to convert the garage in to a granny annex with a small extension to the back of it for kitchen/shower room or add a small conservatory for living room for my parents. Is this possible would I require planning permission?

Our Response:
Yes it's likely that this kind of development will need permission. Your local planning officer will be able to tell you this before you go ahead so you can factor in the additional expense of the application if needed.
ProblemNeighbours - 24-Oct-16 @ 12:42 PM
I have a 4 bed detached house with a detached double garage on a corner plot fairly large garden. I would like to convert the garage in to a granny annex with a small extension to the back of it for kitchen/shower room or add a small conservatory for living room for my parents. Is this possible would I require planning permission?
Daz - 22-Oct-16 @ 3:27 PM
Leth - Your Question:
We are a new home owner for almost two months. Our builder is building a house next to ours, our problem is the window is facing exactly to our window (same size ) and also very close to us about 10-12ft. Do I have the right to complain cause we don't have a privacy anymore every time I open the blinds?

Our Response:
Check with your local planning department to see whether the buider is complying with their planning permission. We assume you either (a) knew about the potential new house when you bought yours or (b) were consulted about it as a neighbour when planning permission was sought.
ProblemNeighbours - 20-Oct-16 @ 1:58 PM
Can I build a house in my front garden My front garden faces a main road??
kelly wraith - 19-Oct-16 @ 1:15 AM
We are a new home owner for almost two months. Our builder is building a house next to ours, our problem is the window is facing exactly to our window (same size ) and also very close to us about 10-12ft. Do I have the right to complain cause we don't have a privacy anymore every time I open the blinds?
Leth - 18-Oct-16 @ 5:58 PM
Anne - Your Question:
I live in a detached bungalow, my nearest neighbour, our side passages adjoin and bathroom Windows face each other, have had an extension which is fine but it has brought their roof further into my garden space. I have no problem with this but now they are measuring up to put solar panels on the roof facing me. My back door is on the side facing their roof which is approx 5metres away? Apart from looking awful can I complain? I am going to be constantly dazzled I fear. Anne

Our Response:
5 metres sounds like a reasonable distance? If, as you say the extension roof is in your garden space, then this is trespass and you can ask them to remove it. If not, then talk to them about the solar panels (they sometimes require planning permission) and see whether they will really dazzle you, it's not a comlpaint we've come across before.
ProblemNeighbours - 6-Oct-16 @ 2:44 PM
I live ina detached bungalow, my nearest neighbour, our side passages adjoinand bathroom Windows face each other, have had an extension which is fine but it has brought their roof further into my garden space.I have no problem with this but now they are measuring up to put solar panels on the roof facing me.My back door is on the side facing their roof which is approx 5metres away?Apart from looking awful can I complain?I am going to be constantly dazzled I fear. Anne
Anne - 5-Oct-16 @ 9:47 AM
@jbx - this strikes me as a very snobbish attitude. Are you suggested all retired people should live together, families elswhere and I supposed single or young couples would fall into another category? I am a pensioner and live next door to a converted bungalow, I love having a family next door, they are very kind and the children pop round with things they've made at school for me. That's what communities should be about.
LoveMyNeighbours - 22-Sep-16 @ 12:49 PM
We are in a nice quiet semi detached bungalow, the area has mostly single older folk or couples living there.The gentleman next door died in January and his family were going to sell his home, bearing in mind that bungalows are much sought after, so the Estate Agents tell us.However, it has been the family's decision to let the grandaughter and her family have the property.They have two small children, and did own a house.They wanted to have their children go to a better school than they would have normally gone to had they stayed where they were.Under the current permitted development laws for planning, there has not been a requirement to have planning permission, nor for us neighbours either side to see any plans.The neighbour who is semi-detached with this property has had noise of banging and drilling, evenings and weekends, etc until she has been quite ill.We are the other side and can confirm this.However, we went away for 4 weeks in August and came back to the most incongruous and overbearing loft extension !They are on higher ground than us by about a metre, also set back about the same amount, so the resulting extension is very overpowering, it has two bedrooms and there is a bathroom at the front plus the staircase.We have no money to move away, we came here to have a quiet life where there was no likelihood of someone moving in and building on, they are only two bedroomed bungalows.We face houses where families live, and everyone agrees that the houses are going for less than the bungalows.We also have some new builds less than a mile away, which would have been perfect for such a family, there is help to buy also.All the neighbours are horrified by this extention, but we all are aware that we have no say, due to the planning laws.When will the Government and local Councils stop this trashing of perfectly good properties ?Why on earth purchase a bungalow if you want a house ?It is not as if there aren't any houses in the area for sale, either pre-owned or new build, which would be within their price range.Apparently they would have liked their children to go to the local primary school, but have not been able to get the eldest one in, and the baby also has to go to the alternative school in the nursery.I might add that the new build houses are right next to the school they have had to go to.We as a community are so upset, please will the Government look again at it's Planning Policies, regarding semi detached bungalows and loft conversions, it is blighting many peoples lives and retirements !
jbx - 20-Sep-16 @ 4:35 PM
After moving into our house we found that our bedroom sits above a kitchen in the adjoining semi detached cottage.It wasn't declared as a floating freehold in the legal documentation and only became apparent when we moved in.Up until recently it has been rented but our future neighbour plans to redevelop the cottage by extending it.In order to extend the back of the cottage he would need to build part way up the shared roof.With the changes in law reducing the restrictions on party wall development etc, would I be able to object to any development which impacts upon the roof on the basis of having a window there and also the potential instability to our own part of the roof.If extended the lower part of the house would then also run parallel to my own extension affecting a party wall issue. The original structure is largely timber framed and therefore the issues for us are noise and impact upon the structure and maintenance of our property if they extend as I anticipate.Any advice would be much appreciated.
Sissy - 16-Sep-16 @ 6:30 PM
Boss - Your Question:
Can you erect a pvc conservatory in the middle of a garden.

Our Response:
If it's not attached to a property it is a garden building, summer house, outdoor building etc. Please find a summary of the general planning rules for outbuildings here
ProblemNeighbours - 12-Sep-16 @ 11:50 AM
Joan - Your Question:
Hi, Our neighbours started extension work a year ago. It did not require planning permission but they showed us the plans and asked us to sign a party wall agreement, which we did because we felt that we had no choice. However, we were concerned from the outset that they were proposing to build right up to the boundary, leaving no room for the overhanging roof and guttering and so we added a clause to address our concern. As part of the job, the neighbours, who had built on their drive, paved the front of their house. They removed a fence and replaced it with a brick wall, one brick deep. They took up part of drive, and because there was a manhole on their drive they needed to avoid. they built the wall so that it is partly on our drive (I would say 4 inches). As anticipated, their builder has now confirmed that there will be an overhang onto our property, even using the new wall as a measure. (We have other issues with these neighbours. As soon as we had signed the party wall consent, they waited until we went away for the weekend then built a tree house that overlooks our garden (the platform is higher than the fence, but we are two foot lower than them so it looks far higher). I complained and told them totally unacceptable, but did not take action as they promises that they would build a fence. They have not done so. The fence separating our properties is totally delapidated but they will not repair and they cannot afford to, new car, new extension, new luxury kitchen, holiday abroad.) We are not keen to get involved in a dispute but all trust has now gone. They need access to our property to finish the extension. Are we within our rights to refuse this?

Our Response:
You can refuse, if you do so the neighbour may consider taking it to the courts, where a decision will be made depending on whether the work is considered "essential" maintenance.
ProblemNeighbours - 12-Sep-16 @ 10:41 AM
Can you erect a pvc conservatory in the middle of a garden.
Boss - 9-Sep-16 @ 5:30 PM
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