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:
Installing solar panels
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
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.
my neighbour has started to build a porch plus extension on the front of the council home he rents, we are part of a terrace house and my neighbour has in his in fernet wisdom crossed the house boundary and has gone over to our property with the roof of the porch and then fixed it to the front of our house, i have contacted the local council and his housing officer who have done nothing about it, id like to know where i stand, its not the first problem we have had with the neighbours building he just replies I've got a mate at the council who sorts it out for me. This is beginning to seem the case as he does what he wants when he wants
macachoo - 16-May-22 @ 10:46 AM
My neighbor who is in a council house has just had a lift put in there lounge which backs onto my lounge wall when they use this life the noise is so loud as the walls are thin in my house and also into my sons bedroom
Is there anything I can do as it’s driving me mad
Brandon1035 - 19-Apr-22 @ 6:10 PM
I am replacing my damaged fence between myself and my neighbour. My fence sits on top of a low wall with the wooden posts being bolted to short stumpy conctrete ones. The concrete posts are my neighbours side. My neighbour claims that the wall is his as are the concrete posts but the fence is mine. He is threatening to cut the concrete posts therefore ruining the integrity of my fence unless I allow him to build a wooden structure using my new fence posts as the uprights. He has cut the concrete posts already on the lower part of the garden forcing me to put concrete posts my side. Unfortunately I can't do this where he wants to put his structure as it woukd mean digging up my patio. Any advice woukd be greatly received.
Ross - 3-Mar-22 @ 9:22 AM
Hi just need advise on what to do about neighbour who lives in complete dump semi detached house every time i do something to sort my house out he seem to get jealous i recently got a small extention i did tell them about it after the builder had started work he seemed fine with it but now it is complete all i ever hear is him moaningabout my extention it was done within permitted development at the time i was unaware of the party wall but as soon i heard about it i went and mentioned it to him he was still ok with it in the end i didnt need the party wall as he has a conservatory on the boundary line but i needed on for the foundationbut was too late for that i live with anxiety now that he has a problem and cant even enjoy my new extention please any advise is there anything he could do now that it is complete thank you
Sami - 25-Jun-21 @ 7:05 PM
Re plastic sheeting. We have been in touch with Planning and forwarded photos of plastic sheeting. They have advised that we are 47th in the queue and he will be receiving a letter and we will object but he can then apply for planning permission and the sheeting will remain in place even although he is actually breaking the law. Crazy or what. Very upsetting as we are looking at this eyesore from every window in our property and it is detracting from the look of my beautiful garden. Will keep you posted but don’t hold your breath
Scottie - 7-Jun-21 @ 6:44 PM
We’ve been in our terraced 25 years and 18months ago had a pitched roof put on the existing extension which must be 35yrs plus old. Our next door neighbor has had an extension added to their property. They have had a pitched roof put on, that sits across an existing flat roof extension. They have extended to our extension and have removed tiles on our roof to “blend” their roof in. They have removed our fascia and cladding. All this has been done without our permission. When we asked the builder what was going on he said that our extension runs over into their property by 88mm. I said that their pebbledash runs over onto ours by 88mm. At the end of the day both the extension and pebbledash where already in situ before we moved in. We’ve just put a new roof on. The builder said that doing it the way he has makes it easier for him. Our extension has never impacted on their property and we asked permission to access their garden so the builder could put the cladding and fascia up. I need to know where we can go with this. It’s an eyesore. We haven’t spoke to our neighbors for over 18 years.
Unhappy - 18-May-21 @ 8:22 AM
I'm an 80 year old disabled widow who has neighbour to fide of my garden with long garden. He is in the process of building huge workshop/family room out of tons of what i think is cedar wood. I haven't received any planningplans so does that mean he is exempt? The building is very close to my fence and my living room. I'm sure he thinks i'm old and are not bothered. I've lived here for 50 years and never had any trouble before.
Ginge - 16-May-21 @ 7:00 PM
next door to us there is a grade two listed building which is currently divided into flats. the landlord changed two years ago and since then the back garden that was, has now been turned into a builders yard, he brings in rubbish from other sites that he owns, and he has added all sorts of ad hock wooden buildings to the rear of the property. He now seems to have turned one of the sheds which abuts our dividing garden wall into some sort of wood workshop and has had a chop saw going all day for several weeks now. We are unable to sit in our garden because the noise is relentless. The building works on the property started two years ago when he first took over, we were understanding because we knew it was an old property and the flats needed attention , two years down the line we are at our wits end. We have tried to discuss these issues with him to no avail. We are also in a conservation area, but we cannot seem to get our local planning department to help, we are unable to speak to anyone due to covid and staff working from home. For all the work he has carried out he has never once sought any planning permission.
DOLLY - 15-Apr-21 @ 1:32 PM
Can my neighbour build a bedroom above my kitchen which also comes on to my land
Crazy - 11-Apr-21 @ 8:34 PM
We already have a dormer on our bungalow and plan to extend it at the rear. Plans already drawn and builder appointed. The existing dormer butt's up to the roof line of the party wall and the extension will do so at the rear. Is a party wall agreement required for the works? Thank you..
Dormer - 2-Apr-21 @ 7:14 AM
Has there been any advice to Scottie. I also have a neighbour who has plastic sheeting above his fence, but about 6-8 feet. Is this allowed, or are there rules in which I can have him take it down?
Anonymous - 31-Mar-21 @ 7:40 AM
Neigh has a 6ft6 fence. We took down some diseased trees and he has put up a plastic sheet about 4ft in height above his fence attached to seven stain,ess steel poles. Is this legal and does he need planning permission, He states that he does not want to see our house but has not planted any trees in his garden.
Scottie - 25-Mar-21 @ 2:27 PM
I'd like to move the wall (owned by me) attached to my neighbour's leasehold property.Will I need to get permission from my neighbour or the leaseholder to make this change? The wall joining on their house will need to move. The wall itself will remain on my property
A - 24-Mar-21 @ 11:53 AM
Hi people building a summer house / bar / games room in garden , do they need permission
Poo - 2-Feb-21 @ 8:51 AM
My neighbour has gone ahead and proceeded to do a lot room. He has not ask us for a party wall agreement he it doing the work himself. Unfortunately his not a neighbour whom you can talk to to discuss anything. We can her the rubble coming down the cavity walls. He has also installed steel beans . I have contacted the council whom has told me they can’t do anything. He has also add to sky to the front roof and did want to add a further two to the rear which we stop as the roof needed attention. Our property this the end property which is attached to his .We don’t know what to do and he stay carry on with the work. We not seen any paper work or if it done to fire regulations etc .
Awaiting you reply
T - 31-Jan-21 @ 1:22 PM
I am seeking advice regarding my neighbours proposed extension. I have just received a letter from surveyors confirming the proposed extension, it states that foundations will be excavated and that the Party Wall Act applies to me. Since my neighbour moved in (7 months ago) it’s just been constant banging which I accept as he’s just moved in, however, his constant noise (also no soundproofing on his front room floorboards in a semi detached house) and now this is more than I can bear right now especially being in lockdown. My question is, can I legally make my neighbour put off the extension for a few months as his noise is really impacting my mental health. Another issue is that he is the freeholder where as I am only a local authority council tenant so I am not sure whether I have any rights at all. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
Titch01 - 26-Jan-21 @ 1:26 PM
Hi I wanted to know the in my garden after my fance how many inches should be a gap to building a extensionIme and my neighbour
Shu - 22-Jan-21 @ 6:14 AM
So I share a roof ridge line with my neighbour. Our semis are
chalet bungalows separated on each side of the roof pitch. So I
own one side of the roof pitch and neighbours own the other side
roof pitch meaning the ridge line is shared between us both.
So my neighbour, rented property, has today taken of their tiles and
the joint ridge line, without notifying me. It has been left bare
no cover over the ridge line. They are having their roof replaced
so have new felt all up their pitch side.
Can I complain about this? Should they have notified me of removal
of a joint ridge line? Does this come under the party wall agreement?
gm3087 - 30-Nov-20 @ 8:14 PM
I own a flat with a drying room that has an wooden louvre panel that forms the end external wall. The panel itself covers both my room and a similar room belonging to next door. My neighbours are looking to turn their drying room into a small office. This will require removing their side of the lourve panel. They have suggested that they would be willing to place plastic cladding over the combined areas but I'm worried that the work will compromise any work I might want to do on my drying room and I would need to unpick the work they're having done now. I don't want to stop next door from making these improvements but how do I ensure I'm no worse off now of in the future if I want to make alterations or the structure leaks?
deanobeano - 25-Nov-20 @ 9:38 AM
My neighbour has informed us he would like to build a permanent spray paint shop for old cars he does up. He is now on his second car and we thought that that would be it but now he wants to do more. He has a converted shed at the moment and the noise is the problem. We can sit in our garden and it’s like being in a dentist waiting room plus the noise of the sprayer. Do we have any rights?
Bodyworks - 25-Oct-20 @ 8:14 AM
Am I allowed to put up a pop up gazebo over a hot tub in my garden on the patio
Mags - 20-Oct-20 @ 5:59 PM
My neighbor has done house extension and extended the roof in our area. All rain water is coming in our area.
Ria - 12-Oct-20 @ 3:29 AM
I'm seeking a bit of advice here. My wife and I live in the Ground Floor Flat of a shared Freehold between us and the First Floor Flat (which includes a second floor). We bought the downstairs at the same time as somebody bought the Upstairs, and we had ten happy years with the upstairs neighbour who pretty much kept the flat as-was, bar a few improvements - the bedrooms above us were carpeted, the bathroom was insulated and the kitchen was on the second floor. Unfortunately, the upstairs sold their flat towards the end of 2015, and in moved....well, builders, initially. Living above us for about 6-8 weeks as they ripped everything out, stripping back walls, tearing up floorboards and living on site, so we could hear everything they did in the echo chamber now above us. It became an extended period of hell as Christmas approached. It was only going to get worse.
During the first week or so, the new owners had knocked on our door one evening with a card, bottle of wine and some nibbles, apologising for the noise over 'the next few weeks'. Over the course of the builders' tenure above us, I would occasionally see one of the owners, and I tentatively asked when carpets would be going down. I was greeted with a hesitant 'oh...soon!'.
This was a lie. They installed wooden flooring in pretty much every room of their house, except the kitchen, which is tiled and now relocated above our lounge. We went from no problems with upstairs neighbours in ten years, to the last four being like living in the basement of a bowling alley. Every thud, bang, drop of a teaspoon, cupboard door slam, washing machine, the shower (which has continuously leaked into our kitchen off and on over the last few years, with numerous attempts from them to get it fixed with mixed results).
Their wooden-floored lounge (now above our bedroom) means we can hear every early morning conversation, phone conversation, phone vibration, footstep (they seem to wear hard shoes - a lot!). To make matters worse, in the time they've lived above us, they've had children, so now we have a toddler thundering up and down the length of our flat all day, and a newborn crying day and night. The toddler is the worst, as we hear every nursery rhyme, tantrum, toys being dragged across the floor or across the walls, etc...and with two children, the washing machine is on pretty much every day, shaking our lounge.
We've never been up there since they moved in, and were never 100% certain of what they had done to the place until they tried to sell in 2018, where online photos on Zoopla showed the kitchen above us and the wooden flooring installed throughout.
I've checked a copy of their Lease (obtained through HM Land Registry), and that pretty much states that they should have carpets or floor coverings to deaden the sound - with the exception of the kitchen and bathroom - but that is based on the fact that the kitchen was on the second floor, well away from us.
BoardMaker - 20-Aug-20 @ 12:34 PM
I am building a rear extensionI am in an end terraced house, my neighbour is objecting because of light which he is losing for two hours in the morning fro 8am till 10am and then he has full sunight, thus is causing me great distress and I am still waiting on the plans Been given the all clear they have only been given in retrospect, please give me any information possible.
Chico - 14-Aug-20 @ 11:39 AM
Hi I no long bought and moved on toba semi detached house. Now once I got over a few problems. I realised that there was vibrating going through my house constantly. Ask my neighbour if she could stop putting her washing machine ans dryer on till after 10pm at night and not right on 7am but she still doing it as she got family to wash for. I put sound proofing walls in its not done much. I realised they put a tile floor down straight on to a concrete which they didn't admit but it explains why am feeling all her appliances on and the foot fall and the rest on the house since they created a speaker. They put a glass out and said no vibration for us. I gave at that point feel like I was talking to a wall. Can I get any advise it driving me up the pole.
Pepigirl - 17-Jul-20 @ 11:36 PM
I am in a semi detached house built in the 1940’s. The other house of the semi has being renovated in a completely hideous out of keeping with all the other houses around with a massive roof extension, bright red roof tiles, pillars on a double front door, white plastic gutterings and lit up like a christmas tree with floodlights everywhere all night, gardens concreted over - it’s tasteless and awful. Already found that a valuer has devalued our house because of it. What can we do?
Sal - 11-Jul-20 @ 6:16 PM
I live in semi det Victorian cottage - neighbour has now built conservatory on boundary 1.7m from my kitchen window and 0.6m from my patio door access to garden and emergency exit doors. Built from the rear wall it extends 8m and is about 2cms under 3m high.Light is now blocked to kitchen and living room with previous views of sky and trees gone as 0.75 plastic fascia blocks them out. Never had any formal sight of plans etc just told that they were building it.
Right of Light comes into mind?2m brick wall then 6m of windows along the side but now fence 1.67m been erected to give privacy. Very trapped in feeling and what happens if they sell and new owner removes fence?advice please
cashy - 10-Jul-20 @ 11:12 AM
Neighbours using loft space as a bedroom.
( not done to safety code , no firedoors etc)
Wall between both ours and their loft spaces is single brick .
Is this legal ?
If a fie was to break out in that room is our house at more risk ?
Daz2020 - 21-Jun-20 @ 4:48 PM
My daughter lives in a council house but the neighbour joined on next door has a chimney which part has fallen off during the early hours, I am concerned for my family worrying if anymore falls off and my daughter or grandchildren are out in the garden, I’m worried for there safety . Who is it she contacts if the owner of the house next door does not do anything about it.
Andy - 21-Jun-20 @ 10:33 AM
We live in a terraced house in a rank of six. These houses were built in the fifties and according to builders that did some minor work in my kitchen, they were built using good quality materials, including Bath stone. Four of the houses have had people that have lived here for 30 years and more and neighbours at my end of the rank are very good. There is no road at the front nor at the back of these houses and we are fortunate to have large back gardens. The end three houses have become almost a nature reserve as it backs onto a field and we get wildlife and birds in our gardens on a regular basis, particularly since building on green belt has been allowed.
A new neighbour has recently bought a property on the other end of the rank and the first thing they did was have an extension built on the back; it is the only extension and it is large reaching to the second floor windows. I was unaware of this until building works were started as the notice of this was placed on a lamppost outside their property on part of the path I never walk by. All the neighbours had to tolerate building works some of which carried on during COVID-19 lock down and vibrations travel through all the houses when certain works are carried out.
I am away a lot at the moment so when I saw the extension and people standing on the steps looking over at me in my garden, I realised the elevation is really high. I have talked to a city planning officer who has replaced the planner that allowed this extension; apparently decisions are made case by case and they 'should be in keeping with the surrounding properties'. This extension is certainly not in keeping and it will be rendered and not look like local stone. Immediate neighbouring properties were not taken into consideration by the planners.
Now I have heard they want to add a veranda; this is not on the plans and will certainly overlook everyones' garden in the rank and destroy privacy. Am I able to prevent this? Having read some of the horror stories of what people are being subjected to in the previous posts, my situation pales in comparison. Often the person having the extension done won't enjoy all the noise and disruption which can go on for months. It seems like everyone has the right to extend their properties and in many cases at the expense of surrounding properties and those who live in them. Fortunately I have good neighbours, long may they remain!