Can My Neighbour Stop My Loft Conversion?

Your typical loft conversion can be something that will ultimately benefit your property in a big way.

But are there any times in the process that your dreams could be dashed by an oibjection from a disgruntled neighbour.

Generally speaking, when it comes to a loft conversion, in many cases you don’t have to worry about seeking planning permission to convert your loft. 

Unless of course you are looking to add dormers to the front of your property.

Your basic rear box dormer, with perhaps a couple of Veluxes to the front will normally fall under your Permitted Development Rights and therfore Planning would not need to consult with your neighbours on this kind of home renovation project.

Ultimately, there may be instances where your neighbour can contest your loft conversion, in which case you will need to refer back to the Party Wall Act 1996.

This was created in situations where alterations to a property are going to be used that involve a wall which is owned by both you and your neighbour.

Understandably, this can be very difficult for people to navigate if they are unfamiliar with the process, so let’s take a look at what our neighbour can do to prevent a loft conversion.

No Party Wall, No Major Issues

So, generally speaking, if your loft conversion does not involve cutting into the party wall for supporting beams or any other structural alterations to a wall shared between you and a neighbour then there is very little that they can do to prevent you converting your loft. 

If your property is detached then again there is no need to issue party wall notices onto your neighbours. 

Obviously, if your loft conversion does require planning permission, there is a period where anybody is free to register comments with the local authority about the conversion itself.

As the only people that will be given direct notice about the planned conversion would be your neighbours, traditionally they will be the only people who will ever have a comment to make.

Party Wall?

However, if your loft conversion will involve the use of a party wall, specifically a party wall which is shared between you and the building next to you, then you will need to consider the Party Wall Act.

Functionally, these are a set of guidelines which are laid down to protect both your rights and the rights of your neighbour. When you are interacting with a wall that is owned by the both of you, this is where the Party Wall Act comes into play. It’s to protect the concerns of the building owner and the neighbouring owner.

So, it works a little bit like this. What you’re going to have to do is file notice that you intend to make the changes that will alter the party wall. You have to have to do this in the form of written documents, which have to be delivered two months before you want to make the changes.

That notice period has to be two months to allow your neighbour to properly come to a decision about whether they are going to allow the changes or dispute them. If they agree to them, that’s fantastic, but if they do not, then a dispute begins, and both sides will probably have to hire party wall surveyors and come to a conclusion.

In all circumstances however, it is worth noting that your neighbour cannot stop you from carrying out your loft conversion and nor would their surveyor be looking to do so.  

It is the job of the party wall surveyors to resolve disputes and not add to them and therfore in almost every instance an agreement will be reached and your loft conversion project will go ahead.

Can You Stop This?

Ultimately, sometimes you can prevent your loft conversion from being interrupted by going and having a conversation with your neighbour about what you intend to do. If you sit down with them and talk about the different challenges that they’re facing, make sure they have a chance to ask any questions or queries, and reach compromises, then you may be able to get things done.

Communication is everything when you’re trying to work out a solution to your loft conversion challenges. You have to be honest with people about what you’re looking for, and make sure that you talk with your neighbours at every opportunity. Remember that being honest and truthful about what you intend to do is really going to help you to convince people that the planned alterations are a good idea.

Ultimately, if you are building on a party wall, your neighbours will have a few concerns. But that’s okay, because it means that you have time to talk with them about it, and make sure that everyone understands what’s going to happen.

Final Thoughts

So ultimately, your loft conversion is a pretty important thing to take a look at, and it may be the case that you have to think about the party wall when construction starts.

Now, obviously, you’re not trying to upset your neighbour deliberately, but these things do happen from time to time, so it’s important to talk with them about the planned alterations. If you can get your neighbour on side, then more so the better.

When it comes to what you do and when, you have to think about all of the different outcomes and options that you have available. It’s all about taking time to get the best possible choices. Open communication is so important for making sure that when you and your neighbour have to navigate party wall disputes together, it doesn’t become a better feud. It’s just about being reasonable, and being willing to compromise on some of the smaller issues to keep your neighbours happy.

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