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Next door neighbour developing to boundary wall and blocking light

edited 31 August 2017 at 5:19PM in In my home (includes DIY) MoneySaving
11 replies 10.1K views
diogrwydddiogrwydd Forumite
21 Posts
My next door neighbour (whom we generally get on with ok) knocked on my door the other day to ask us around for a drink tomorrow evening, as they are planning some work to their house which "is not going to directly affect you but may indirectly affect you". He said they have had the plans back from the architect and a tender has been issued to a few builders to price it, which suggest it is happening very soon, irrespective of how the consultation with us goes.

While I have yet to see the plans, they have historically vaguely mentioned about building up to the single brick wall that separates quite a narrow ally between both properties, in order to extend their kitchen and also knock through in to their living room space. To do this, they would need to raise the level of the wall nearest to us by about 0.8 meters, and pitch a roof of some sort towards our side.

While I really don't want to be a pain in the !!!! and prevent them from making what could be a nice addition to their own property, I'm a bit concerned that it is going to negatively affect us, as such an extension would likely significant obscure our only window/natural light to a centrally positioned living room/lounge area.

Here are some photos and rough plans (can someone hyperlink for me please?):
ibb.co/dmj3Bk
ibb.co/fHy8cQ
ibb.co/evNqrk
ibb.co/nzAbWk

While I obviously need to wait and see what the exact plans are, I would like to be prepared before going to meet them, as well as generally seek viewpoint of any issues to be weary of generally.

Interestingly there are restrictive covenants in our deeds which includes:

"Erect or permit or suffer to be erected on the property hereby conveyed any building wall fence erection or structure whatsoever except as first be approved by the Corporation"
(the Corporation now being the local authority, I presume).

I know from historical conversations they have denied there ever being any such deeds on their property (which I doubt given that all 12 houses on the row are almost identical in construction). I know they also haven't submitted any planning on this yet due to it being permitted development. Who would enforce such a restrictive covenant? And would gaining planning permission be the modern equivalent of "being approved by the Corporation"?

From our perspective, we are actually planning to refurb our kitchen over upcoming weeks (hence the drawings). One option that has crossed my mind is that we could also 'match' such a development ourselves to keep things equal and extend our kitchen by about 1.3 meters in the same way. However doing this would involve installing RSJs across a load bearing wall about 5.3 meters in length in order to open up the kitchen space, as well as building the single story extension out. We have already obtained structural calculations for installing a RSJ to the rear wall of our property to install bifold windows, which in itself is going to hammer our finances when refurbishing our kitchen as it is. Any idea what kind of cost I would be looking at to get the additional work to extend the property? We are already looking at spending about £15,000 on the bi-folds, updating the kitchen and installing a downstairs loo. While I may be able to stretch another £5K or so on a loan, my biggest concern is that this is not a "forever" house. We are trying to be careful to improve the value of the property so that we can sell it on and upgrade in a few years. A big 5.3 x 4.6m kitchen would look striking, but is it worth the additional cost?
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Replies

  • DoozergirlDoozergirl Forumite
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    That's a long, narrow side return! Your house is over shadowing your window in the pictures.

    I doubt it will have much impact, but your neighbours can keep the height down if they have a pitched roof. They probably only need to raise it to the height of the window and just taper to a lower ceiling height down the pitch, so it starts at perhaps 210 or 220cm on the party wall side and then goes into a higher vaulted roof.

    Party Wall Act applies. If you extended too you could share the cost of the new party wall. It would probably work best to share the builder if you wanted to keep costs down.

    The only entity that can enforce a covenant is the entity that owns it. I doubt they would have much interest in doing so, even if they still exist.
    Everything that is supposed to be in heaven is already here on earth.
  • Doozergirl wrote: »
    That's a long, narrow side return! Your house is over shadowing your window in the pictures.

    I doubt it will have much impact, but your neighbours can keep the height down if they have a pitched roof. They probably only need to raise it to the height of the window and just taper to a lower ceiling height down the pitch, so it starts at perhaps 210 or 220cm on the party wall side and then goes into a higher vaulted roof.

    Party Wall Act applies. If you extended too you could share the cost of the new party wall. It would probably work best to share the builder if you wanted to keep costs down.

    The only entity that can enforce a covenant is the entity that owns it. I doubt they would have much interest in doing so, even if they still exist.

    Yeah it is pretty dark, but the orientation of the house does mean quite a bit of sunlight is thrown down there during the day. If they keep the pitch very tight and start at about 210 as you suggest, I think I would potentially be ok with that, however these properties have unusually high ceiling heights at about 265, and if they want to retain the window in a what is already a narrow side return see the boundary wall side being higher. From our sofa, we can see the sky through the window, but anything higher that 200 would be mostly brick.

    Think I've got some homework to read up on the party wall act :)
  • edited 1 September 2017 at 7:39AM
    I_have_spokenI_have_spoken
    5.1K Posts
    edited 1 September 2017 at 7:39AM
    I'd def. try and work with your neighbour so that you can revamp the side-return as well. What you have now adds nothing to the property and would remain as wasted space after the refurb.

    IMG_3896.jpg

    Can you not find the money to glaze the side-return and open it out?

    contemporary-kitchen.jpg

    Alternatively, don't splurge on bi-folds for the main area (which some peeps say just lets flies into the kitchen!) and put a door at the and of the side return, allowing a different layout internally?

    783641ee7a01df7b6f93b2d2ae8154e5--side-extension-side-return-kitchen-extension.jpg
  • martinsurreymartinsurrey Forumite
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    diogrwydd wrote: »
    I think I would potentially be ok with that, however these properties have unusually high ceiling heights at about 265, and if they want to retain the window in a what is already a narrow side return see the boundary wall side being higher.

    They can build up to 3m eaves height and 4 m total height without planning permission, not much you can do about it if they decide to go that high.
  • They can build up to 3m eaves height and 4 m total height without planning permission, not much you can do about it if they decide to go that high.

    Yeah I have seen that, and it is probably going to be the reality of the situation. I have seen some vague references here or there to the only exception being something about a 45 degree angle of vision and light, but it doesn't look very likely.
  • IMG_3896.jpg

    Can you not find the money to glaze the side-return and open it out?

    contemporary-kitchen.jpg

    That exact type of solution has crossed my mind as well to be honest. Does anybody have any experience or an idea of what kind of cost would be expected to install a glazed area like that?
  • Nice-looking proposals for that side return - but...yep...I'd wonder whether the cost was worth it for a starter house. I had a very similar house last time - but the side return was a bit wider than that - and I didnt think it was worth it for that level of house.

    My sympathies OP about the neighbours plans. Their current extension is very "in your face" anyway and I know I found a neighbour extension like that very difficult to live with - but at least the house had been like that when I bought it and I was only going to keep it a few years (famous last words - when I sold it rather a lot of years later...).
  • DoozergirlDoozergirl Forumite
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    My sympathies OP about the neighbours plans. Their current extension is very "in your face" anyway and I know I found a neighbour extension like that very difficult to live with - but at least the house had been like that when I bought it and I was only going to keep it a few years (famous last words - when I sold it rather a lot of years later...).

    But the OP's current extension is identical?! And both houses are perfectly common examples of terraced housing with two storey extensions.
    Everything that is supposed to be in heaven is already here on earth.
  • edited 1 September 2017 at 5:09PM
    DoozergirlDoozergirl Forumite
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    edited 1 September 2017 at 5:09PM
    diogrwydd wrote: »
    That exact type of solution has crossed my mind as well to be honest. Does anybody have any experience or an idea of what kind of cost would be expected to install a glazed area like that?

    It needs building regulations approval as an extension. It will cost more than you think, but I agree that you could lose the bifold idea as these provide all the light and wow factor you'd need.

    How much it costs is down to what the building inspector asks for in terms of insulation for opening up the side. They may want a trade off inside the house or they may feel that there isn't too much glazing - the benefit of it being a party wall is that a lot of heat is retained - and you get away with it.

    You need to do this at the same time as the neighbours to benefit from an economy of scale. One set of footings, one lovely shared wall, one concrete pour. You'll also get away without a Party Wall agreement if you're working together to use the new wall.
    Everything that is supposed to be in heaven is already here on earth.
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