Everybody needs good neighbours, particularly if you plan to build or renovate.
It pays to remember that your neighbours have rights when it comes to your building or renovation project. Keeping everyone onside doesn’t just maintain neighbourhood harmony, it can also keep your budget on track.
One of the biggest gripes about renovations tends to be that your improvements could devalue your neighbour’s property or negatively impact their lifestyle. This can happen when your impressive new deck looks straight into the neighbour’s bedroom, or your second storey extension blocks out their stunning view.
It pays to be realistic here. If your renovation is likely to cause grief, speak with your neighbours and council to ensure it will get the thumbs up from everyone before you start laying foundations.
Keep everyone informed
Be upfront with your neighbours about your planned renovations. Prue Digby, Chief Executive Officer of the Victorian Building Authority says, “Keeping your neighbours informed about your building and renovations can help avoid problems before, during and after you’ve built”.
In Victoria, as in many other states, neighbours are entitled to view any building plans that are advertised for the purpose of obtaining a planning permit. In addition, a site sign for the building project may need to be displayed in an easily seen location, providing details of the building permit, the building surveyor who issued it and the builder responsible for the work.
However don’t simply assume that your neighbours will check out details of your home renovation project for themselves. Digby adds that problems with neighbours in relation to building work are often overcome by providing details about the project to them in person. You may even need to have your neighbour onside to obtain a permit. That definitely makes it worthwhile inviting the neighbours over for a coffee to explain your building plans.
Don’t inconvenience the neighbourhood
One overriding rule of thumb is that your neighbours should never be unduly inconvenienced by your building work. Your state/territory and local government will have laws in place that formalise issues like start times for building work and also unsafe footpaths, roads and building sites.
If a neighbour makes a complaint to the local council about your building project, you could end up with a ‘please explain’ from the council, and possibly an inspection of your building work – at your expense. So it pays to know what is expected and what you need to do to ensure your renovations comply with the relevant local building regulations.
Protect the neighbour’s property
According to Digby, building regulations often provide protection for neighbouring properties. If you want to build or renovate, you may be required to undertake protection work to ensure your neighbour’s property isn’t damaged during building.
This is why it is so important to use a reputable builder and seek council approval for your plans. Ensuring your building and renovation work meets local requirements will see you well on the way to avoiding neighbourly issues.
Checklist of steps if you’re renovating
- Let your neighbours know what building work you plan on doing.
- Make sure your builder displays a sign on the site that shows the details of the building surveyor, builder and building permit.
- Take steps to protect neighbouring properties from potential damage.
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