First of all, try to get alongside your neighbours as early as possible and get them on your side. Involve them in discussions, talk to them, more importantly listen to them and act on their concerns. If you engage with your neighbours and ensure they are actively involved in the entire process, then it’s less likely they are going to be upset when the actual building work takes place.
I usually ask my clients to physically drop off a hardopy of the preliminary design drawings round to their neighbours and talk through the project before Planning Permission is obtained. This is typically several months before the messy building work actually starts. The clients can talk to their neighbours in person and address any concerns at an early stage. This means the design can also be altered and the impact of the building work given a decent amount of consideration to minimise disruption to the neighbours.
An example from earlier this year is that I actually went to a clients neighbours house in person to talk through my clients design with them, explain things and give them a virtual walkthrough of the 3D model on my laptop so they fully understand the design. Some concerns have been raised and we will be adjusting the design slightly to address these. Later on, we will also be meeting with the appointed contractor + my clients + neighbours, all sat around the same table, to discuss the practical building work and how to reduce concerns during the building work and disruption. The builder will provide contact details to the neighbours so they can speak to him direct to address any concerns along the way.
Good, clear communication is key and it’s often about reasonable compromise on both sides, so do be prepared to make some concessions, after all you have to live next door to these guys.
However, mistakes sometimes happen and then it’s about how these are managed, but that will be a future post at some point…
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