Thursday, 19 May 2022

Improve your home without upsetting neighbours

WITH a shortage of properties coming on the market, many homeowners are now looking at ways to improve or extend their homes rather than move.

The Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) has published guidance on how people can extend a residential property, without unnecessarily upsetting their neighbours or triggering a potentially expensive dispute.

The guide is designed to help homeowners understand the Party Wall etc. Act 1996 — the legislation concerning building on or around the boundaries known as party walls.

The owner of a property has a statutory duty to follow specific procedures, and give written notice to their neighbours of certain types of construction or excavation work.

This includes, for example, demolishing and rebuilding a party wall to a greater height or thickness, or making good poorly maintained or defective structures.

Other works that are included in the legislation are building a new wall on or up to the boundary between two properties, or cutting into a party wall.

Also included is inserting a damp-proof course — even if it is only to your own side of the party wall — and excavating foundations that are within three metres of a neighbour’s structure and deeper than its foundations.

The new guide gives detailed advice for building owners and the owners or occupiers of adjoining properties.

It explains how to deal with a party wall dispute, which types of expert can help, and how cases are usually settled. It also highlights the need to use chartered professionals, who understand the law and can help keep disputes and disruptions to a minimum. RICS reports that the average home extension costs between £15,000 and £125,000.

James Kavanagh, RICS Head of Land and Resources Standards, said: “The pandemic has made many people review how they use their home space, and many will have looked to extend their homes to meet home-working demands.

“Chartered surveyors play a central role in supporting people looking to make home improvements. As more people look to extend their existing home, or improve the energy efficiency of a property, this new consumer guidance sets out clear guidelines to help consumers avoid falling out with their neighbours, protect them against the risk of rogue traders, and reduce the risk of a dispute.”

For this and other free guides about buying, selling or improving your home, go to www.rics.org/ consumerguides

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