Looking after the Neighbours

Saturday, 1st April 2023

Renovating a property without considering the impact on your neighbours could prove to be a costly and stressful oversight, so how can it be avoided?

When considering a property for purchase, probably the last thing you will think of asking the estate agent is: What are the neighbours like?  And if you do ask the question, then you will no doubt receive a vague response such as ‘Oh, as far as I know, they’re very nice’.  Well, that may be the case, but if it isn’t….

Neighbours have the power and potential to disrupt, slow or even scupper your renovation plans in more ways than one.  They can not only complain to your Building Manager, but also to the local Council Planning Department, who of course has the power to influence your building plans, or indeed bring your venture to a complete standstill.  Furthermore, if a fraught situation with one neighbour is not resolved to the satisfaction of both parties, then a neighbour from hell can easily expand to neighbours from hell.   A gang of disgruntled neighbours will be much harder to deal with.

So, it is in everyone’s best interests to make sure that your neighbours are kept informed of your intentions, not only prior to start of work, but also during its progress.  In this way, you will avoid any unnecessary misunderstandings or rumours about your intentions, and most importantly, avoid costly, time-consuming delays to your renovation work.  It is better in your hands to keep neighbours on your side before the beginning of work, rather than have the situation escalate and inevitably involve the high costs of the legal profession.

How to keep the neighbours happy

What are they in for? Noise? Smells? Vibrations? Strangers? Weekend working? Disruption to their water/electricity/power supplies? In other words, anything that would inconvenience YOU, will inconvenience your neighbour. You are bound to cause them unavoidable aggravations. But if you inform them before these aggravations actually happen, you will certainly have prevented any surprises and most probably have controlled any subsequent annoyances.

Why not inform the neighbours of your intentions by sending them a letter, or email. Give them your contact details, so that they can get in touch with you about any concerns that they may have. In this way, you are building up a relationship and at the same time demonstrating your concern for their well-being.

Your neighbours will no doubt have to put up with quite a lot during your renovation project. What about a small gesture of your appreciation for their much-valued patience and understanding?  A thank-you note or small gift, such as a bunch of flowers, goes a long, long way. Then, when it’s all over, throw a party (but don’t forget to invite your neighbours)!