My neighbour wants to build on to the side of my house. What can I do?

Property Clinic: Nobody can interfere with your property without your permission

I own a two-storey terraced house. The house next door is one storey and joined to mine at first-storey level only. The owners have applied for planning permission to build a second storey on their house which will be built on to my side wall at second-floor level. This will involve removing their current roof which is attached to my wall. They then propose building onto the side of my house while removing facia boards, guttering and some roof tiles from the side of my house and adjoining their new roof to mine. Neither they nor their architect talked to me or asked for my permission.

I objected and planning permission was refused but not on the grounds raised in my objection regarding the impact on my property. It is now under appeal to An Bord Pleanála. I made it very clear in my objections that I gave them no permission, but I’m told this is not a planning issue. Is this correct and what can I do if planning permission is granted? I have no idea how I can stop this development and protect my house. Is it then a legal issue? Who should I consult with if planning is granted?

Noel Larkin writes: I have referred many times in my Property Clinic responses to the stress brought on by the prospect of building works next door. The visceral feeling stirred up is a natural emotional reaction concerned with the protection of one's home. In most cases, our fear of change and interruption proves to be unfounded. Although there can be some disruption, in general these things typically work out for the benefit of all concerned. In a lot of cases, we worry unduly about what might happen in the future. This is futile. Planning permission has not been granted for the works that are causing you concern and therefore they may never happen. Your worry in the meantime will have achieved nothing, except maybe a negative impact on your own health.

Building owners cannot interfere with adjoining properties without the consent of their neighbours. No work or development can take place beyond one’s legal boundaries. With the conditions you have described, however, it sounds like the fascia and guttering at the base of your roof may in fact oversail your legal boundary and into next door. This can happen where buildings are constructed close together and up tight to the boundaries. The fascia, soffit and guttering can extend out across the legal boundary. This generally goes unnoticed, but it does present a problem however if this oversail obstructs a neighbour’s proposals as you have described here.



I suggest that you wait and see what the outcome of the An Bord Pleanála appeal is. If the development is approved, you should then engage with your neighbour and seek clarification on the full scope and timing of the works. You should appoint your own adviser to help you understand the full potential impact on your property. Your building surveyor should set out and agree with your neighbour the exact boundary position, how the works are to be constructed and how your home is to be protected during the works.

Remember that when the building works are finished and the architects, surveyors and tradesmen are gone you will remain neighbours living side by side. Whatever you can do to protect your home without obstructing your neighbours from improving theirs will benefit you both in the long run.

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