Does my neighbour need planning permission?

Your properties queries answered

The key to a successful building project is proper planning.  Photograph: Thinkstock

The key to a successful building project is proper planning. Photograph: Thinkstock


My next-door neighbour is erecting a stand-alone structure ie, it is not attached to the side or rear of his house – of about 32.5sq m (350sq ft) and an external wall height of about 3.025m (10 ft). Can you please advise me what planning and building regulations should be adhered to?

When a neighbour starts to build in their garden, there is always a concern that this will have a negative impact on adjoining properties. The Planning and Development Acts generally allow limited exempted development. This means that it is not necessary to apply for planning permission for minor works around the house.

Due to their nature it is considered that these works would have no significant impact on neighbouring properties or the area in general.

However, once a development moves beyond certain limitations, planning permission is required. The type of development you describe is a Class 3 development. This allows the construction, erection or placing, within the garden of a house, a garage, store, shed or similar structure. However, in order for this structure to be exempted development, it should not be placed forward of the front wall of the house. The total area of the structure, when taken with other similar structures, which may have been previously constructed, should not exceed 25sq m.

The amount of open space, which should remain to the rear or side of the house, should not be reduced below 25sq m. The external finishes of the structure, should match the house. The height of the structure should not exceed 4m if finished with a pitched roof, or 3m if it has a flat roof.

The structure should not be used for human habitation or for keeping pigs, poultry, pigeons, ponies or horses or any other purpose, other than a purpose incidental to the enjoyment of the house.

You say you estimate the structure is about 32.5sq m. This is above the permitted exempt development and so planning permission is needed.

Structures which need planning permission, must also comply with building regulations.

If you are concerned that the proposed structure will have a negative impact on your property, discuss this with your neighbour.

Alternatively, you should contact the local authority planning department and they will pursue the matter on your behalf.

Noel Larkin is a chartered building surveyor and a member of the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland

Quality on a budget

We want to extend our house substantially and have already got planning permission. We are keen to achieve a high specification in terms of insulation, air tightness, high-end finishes such as cladding and windows and so on. However we are equally keen on getting as much value for money as possible. Any advice would be welcome.

The key to a successful building project is proper planning, accurate budgeting and professional execution. Before starting a project like this it is very worthwhile to examine what grants or tax breaks are available to homeowners like yourselves who are looking at extending or upgrading their home.

The first is the Home Renovation Incentive scheme (HRI) which is a tax incentive scheme that allows homeowners to claim tax credits for qualifying works that cost between €4,405 (excluding VAT) and €30,000 (excluding VAT). Full details of this scheme can be found at under Reliefs and Exemptions and also at

The other grant available to home owners is one from the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland, called the Better Energy Homes grant. This scheme is a cash grant and covers works such as insulation and heating system upgrades. More details of this grant can be found on the SEAI website

Once you have factored in the savings which can be achieved from applying for these grants you will have a better idea of your overall budget for the project.

Not surprisingly you want your extension built to high-end specifications. However often with projects of this nature tradeoffs have to be made to ensure the project is completed on budget.

In this regard I would recommend you hire a chartered quantity surveyor as he or she will be able to meet with your architect and prepare a detailed budget estimate for the construction based on your approved plans.

They will also include finishing costs and be able advise you on what is achievable within your budget.

Kevin Brady is a chartered quantity surveyor and a member of the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland

Building a garage

We want to rebuild the garage to the rear of our property which is not attached to the house. The garage is made from concrete panels and we want the new one to be built from brick and to use the space for a gym as well as a garage. Do we need planning permission? Do we need designs to be drawn up or is it pretty standard work for a builder and are there are guidelines that they have to build within?

The demolition of an existing garage within the curtilage of a house – the land immediately surrounding it – will not generally require planning permission, as it is an exempt development. However, certain restrictions apply. First, the garage should not adjoin another building in separate ownership and, second, the floor area of the garage should not exceed 40sq m.

Likewise, the construction of a new garage within the curtilage of a house is also exempt development, subject to several conditions.

In summary, it should not exceed 25sq m floor area; it should not reduce the amount of private open space at the rear of the house to less than 25sq m; the height of the garage should not exceed 4m if it has a tiled or slated roof, or 3m for any other roof type; and the garage should not be used for human habitation.

Clearly using a gym would not be considered human habitation. It should be noted that if there are any existing structures, they would be included within the 25sq m.

If the garage is constructed to the side of the house, rather than to the rear, further restrictions apply. The new garage should not be placed forward of the front wall of the house and the roof and wall finishes should match that of the house.

In terms of guidelines for constructing the garage, it is exempt from building regulations, so long as it is single storey and, again, has a floor area and an overall height of less than that stated above. An experienced builder may be able to construct a basic garage without the aid of a designer.

However, the availability of a plan drawing is particularly useful when seeking builders’ quotes and for demonstrating to the builder what is required.

If the garage needs planning permission, or is subject to building control, then a professional should be appointed.

Additionally, when constructing garages, you should consider potential future adaptations. In this regard, and subject to finances, it may be worthwhile future proofinga garage by increasing the specification levels, such as insulation, plumbing and electrical supply. In such circumstances, the appointment of a professional may also prove invaluable.

Andrew O’Gorman is a chartered building surveyor and a chartered planning and development surveyor and a member of the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland