Renovation tips for a neighbour-friendly transformation

Cue the music: “With a little understanding, you can find the perfect blend. Neighbours should be there for one another. That’s when good neighbours become good friends.” The lyrics to every Aussie’s favourite soap opera offer solid advice, especially when discussing renovations.

Deteriorating relations with neighbours can significantly impede your project timeline. Home extensions in the UK overrun by an average of two and a half months. Astonishingly, more than one in 10 renovators experience project delays because of conflicts with their neighbours, according to research by building system company hup!. That’s a lot of delays and expense that could have been avoided.

If you’re extending, neighbours can challenge proposed changes by lodging appeals with the council. You can
take the traditional approach by attaching your proposal to the nearest lamppost. However, to speed up the process, involving your neighbours before submitting plans – especially for substantial extensions – is always advisable. Letting them know before the planning permission stage may save you time and money. It’s the easiest way to start the process, especially if you already have a good relationship with the people on either side of you.

It is not required by law, but it is good practice and manners to inform your neighbours of proposed work, regardless of planning permission. Communicate in person or provide a written note outlining your plans, the work hours of contractors, and the proposed timeline, so they know what is happening and how long it’s likely to take.

Construction noise and neighbour woes

As construction work is typically very noisy, your renovation is almost guaranteed to disturb your neighbours. Noise restrictions are generally from 8am to 6pm, depending on your area, but your neighbours may work from home or have night shifts and sleep during the day. You need to listen to your neighbours and work out a compromise so relationships aren’t strained, and your renovation is still full steam ahead.

“When you’ve got mess, noise and multiple tradespeople coming and going over a long period of time, it’s understandable how fallouts can escalate,” says Alex Hewitt, marketing director at the building system hup!. “Communication is always key to help avoid disagreements with neighbours.”

neighbour-friendly renovation
Photography: iStock/ Seahorse Vector

What happens if relationships start to break down?

First, try speaking to them directly so both parties’ concerns can be heard. Try having them over for a sit-down chat rather than a confrontation in a doorway.

One of the more common issues regarding disputes between neighbours is not listening to their concerns, says Renan Ferreira, head of communications and director of sales of RealCraft. “If your neighbours express concerns, take them seriously,” says Renan. “Work together to find solutions that address their worries. This might involve adjusting the construction schedule, using sound barriers, or taking other measures to mitigate potential issues. You want to do everything in your power to keep your neighbours happy as often renovations bring up other issues that could extend the deadline.”

And should disputes escalate, you can involve third parties to help mitigate the problems. For example, in the planning permission stage of your renovation, you can involve your project planner or architect to address the concerns. Renan emphasises the importance of documenting agreements or discussions to mitigate potential escalations. No one wants to escalate these issues, but if you have to, the evidence is there.

And if the worst comes to the worst you could try humming the Neighbours theme tune to yourself as a way to calm down and help de-escalate any issues.

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