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My Neighbour is Building an Extension on our Boundary- What Paperwork Do I need?

We recently received this question by email, it’s a common issue and we thought the response would be a useful FAQ.

“My neighbours are building an extension to their kitchen (semi detached houses) which will become the new boundary between the houses. Their builder is building a parapet wall which he assures us can be used if we were to build an extension ourselves. Is there any documentation (QA survey, engineers certificate) that we would be entitled to ask for?”

Our Response:

In short, the answer is yes. You should get a letter from them setting out the verbal agreement between you.

We have advised clients on the required contents of such letters in the past. It depends on the situation and we can’t say for definite without visiting the site. Various legislation can apply to a house extension depending on the size and design.

  1. Is the building located entirely within their site?
  2. Are parts of it on the legal boundary as you understand it?
  3. Was it subject to planning or built as class 1 exempt development?
  4. Do you actively plan to build in that area in the next few years.
  5. Do you intend to physically incorporate their new wall into your house?

In broad terms,  the building is their own private affair as long as it is separate and within the law. If you intend to share part of the structure you need to request a copy of the certificate which covers it’s design and construction. The design should allow for the shared role of that wall in the future. This is normally a private document between your neighbour and their architect or engineer.

We would generally visit the site, and advise on what the letter or contract should contain, you could then request it from your neighbour or have it prepared by a solicitor.

Most Building Projects, (including house extensions) must comply with some or all of the following:

  1. The Building Reglations
  2. The Building Control System
  3. The Planning and Development Acts
  4. Health and Safety Legislation

We are fully qualified to advise on matters relating to this legislation. BUT, in addition to legislation, building work often affects issues of property ownership. While we have a general understanding of typical scenarios that arise in practice, land law is generally beyond the competence of architects, and when complex issues arise around property boundaries or land ownership we usually seek advice, or refer our clients to solicitors.

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