I hope some of you can advise me on this situation:
My mum lives in a small detached house, (built 1976) where the neighbours
driveway runs the full length of one side of her house. The neighbours are
going to apply for planning permission to have a 2 storey extension built on
the side of their house i.e. in their driveway, which will be the full
length and height of their own house, and the maximum width of the driveway,
leaving a gap of around 6 inches between their house and my mums. This will
mean that the whole of the wall on one side of my mums house will be
completely inaccesible. The roof of the proposed extension will slope down
towards my mums house and finish under her eaves. Mum has a Gas CH boiler in
an upstairs room, on the side facing their property with a flue out into
My mum gets on OK with them and they have been round to tell her about their
proposed plan, and also to ask if she would consider moving the flue, at
their expense, so that they can build as close as possible up to her wall.
As far as I can see, this won't be possible as if the flue was moved any
higher, it would be too close to the eaves, therefore the boiler would have
to be moved to the other side of the house, which is acceptable to us, and
it would actually be better over the other side. *However*, I am not happy
with the fact that the whole of that wall will then be inaccesible for ever.
What happens if any maintenance is needed to that wall in the future? Or if
there is ever a damp problem? This makes the whole project a no-goer as far
as I am concerned, it worries me greatly but then I am not the expert;-)
An identical house around the corner has just had such an extension built,
completely covering one side of their neighbours house, with a tiny gap
between, so it must be possible under building regs. And even if my mum did
object, the council might not necessarily refuse the application anyway. So
we are in a quandry. I am going to contact the planning dept at the council
and see what they have to say, but I would appreciate any
information/advice/experiences as to whether you think not having access to
the wall is a problem in any way.
Thanks in advance,
Your neighbour can build as close to the boundary as the local authority
permits except none of their construction can extend onto or over the
boundary on your side
I am mystified that you say that the proposed extension roof will finish
"under" your eaves. Do your eaves and gutter extend over the boundary? If
not then nor can theirs. If you belive yours do you may not have the correct
The same goes for the foundations. They should in theory be approximately
150mm (6") wider than the wall. So in theory without eaves/gutter etc you
should not be able to have a wall closer than 150mm to the boundary unless
building control and planners agree. If eaves and gutter is brought in to
the equation then it would be further back than that
AFAIK the boundary is my mums side wall. So therefore her eaves and gutter
do overhang the boundary, as they do on every house on that row. I've looked
at the identical house around the corner which has had a side extension and
their eaves appear to go slightly under their neighbours eaves.
The roof ridge on these houses goes from front to back (Hope I'm explaining
this properly, would a sketch help?)
The neighbours have also offered to pay for upvc soffits for my mums house,
which to me, implies that there will be little or no access after the job is
I do see a problem here.
If built in 1976 this will almost certainly be a double skin wall. The
only way to repoint the outer wall is to do it from the outside.
Without being repointed that wall will over the years weaken
drastically, to the point where it would in the end bend and collapse.
This does not sound like a clever idea.
Turning the boundary wall into a party wall would have the advantage
that it can be and should be maintained, but brings cons as well, in
that for her to do anything at all to that wall would require the
neighbours permission, possibly her to pay for their appointed
surveyor, etc. I dont know whether all that could be dealt with by a
contract with them, IANAL.
Also it would mean linking the 2 properties structurally, which could
possilby prove a bad move one day, though it most likely wont. And I
dont know if its allowed anyway.
In short if it were me I'd say no way Jose, on the grounds that it
would inevitably endanger the structural integrity of the building
after a number of years. I would insist on enough space for
Maintenance requirements come with age and weathering. If the wall is
sheltered, the maintenance over the 60 year projected life of a brick wall
is reduced to nil.
Repointing is purely to act as a weathering to prevent moisture penetration
and is not structural, if the wall is sheltered by such close proximity then
no repointing is required.
Such a drastic scenario regarding the bricks tipping is not ever going to
happen in a house wall and is reserved to chimneys which suffer from acid
attack from flue gasses.
The offer of PVCu cladding is also a good one, and should be accepted.
The new wall will actually be increasing the life of the OPs' mothers wall
and will in no way be disadvantaging it in terms of future maintenance
Indeed, a friend of mine was having an extension built to which the
neighbour had not objected.
However, when the footings were being dug he pointed out that they were
encroaching on his side and that the finished building's eves and gutters
would be over his side.
This resulted in the footings having to be moved some 300mm at considerable
cost and delay.
"Susan Barlow" wrote
| My mum lives in a small detached house, (built 1976) where the
| neighbours driveway runs the full length of one side of her house.
| The neighbours are going to apply for planning permission to have
| a 2 storey extension built on the side of their house i.e. in their
| driveway, which will be the full length and height of their own
| house, and the maximum width of the driveway, leaving a gap of around
| 6 inches between their house and my mums. This will mean that the
| whole of the wall on one side of my mums house will be completely
I think if you are going to have a gap between properties it is best if it
is wide enough to for a person to squeeze through. An old building opposite
me had new flats built against it and there is about a 1 foot gap between
the two, which has been walled in front (and I presume back) with airbricks
top and bottom, and then roofed and guttered. So it becomes a ventilated
interior void rather than an exterior inaccessible gap.
You indicated in a follow-up post that the roof ridge runs front-back. If
the extension or gap is to be flat-roofed then I'd suggest that the roof
slopes back towards the neighbours with the drains on their side, and is
flashed into your mum's wall.
Whether this is done or not, in effect or in fact, your mum will no longer
be living in a detached house, but semi-detached, and you should get estate
agent's valuations to estimate the loss in value of your mum's house.
Loss of off-street parking combined with increasing house size is a
legitimate ground for planning objection. It's quite common for planners to
require *additional* car parking space to be provided if a house is
extended. If the neighbour's house doesn't have off-street parking and it's
obvious they will be parking on the street and possibly causing obstruction,
that also can adversely affect your mum's house value.
There might also be a requirement for access to the rear gardens for
maintenance or access for firefighters.
It might be better to compromise with the neighbours that they can have the
extension provided there's a sufficiently big gap left between the houses
but they can make up the space by building out a bit further at the back.
On the upside, it does sound as though your mum is going to get a nice shiny
new energy-efficient condensing boiler.
I would not worry about the fact that a wall is covered forever - its highly
unlikely that there will ever be a maintenance issue. The chances of the
wall developing a damp problem is remote - as long as the new work does not
in fact cause one - which it should not.
Just ensure that the neighbours follow the procedure of the Party Wall Act,
and that they serve a Party Wall notice on your mother. This will ensure
that your mothers interests are taken care of in any building works. Your
neighbours are not obligated to do this, but I would insist that they do to
retain your goodwill. They should serve a notice at least two months before
the work starts.
Also with regards to any eaves crossing the boundary, then you may or may
not be happy with this, but you should formalise any agreement by way of a
note on your deeds, or other legal agreement. The PW surveyor may do this.
Personnaly I would be unhappy about this, but concerned that saying NO
would upset my neighbours and turn them into enemies.
First I would get quotes for the real cost of moving the boiler and
its flue, and making good any decoration etc. I suspect that your
neighbours may baulk at excessive costs and moving a boiler may be a
cost too far.
Then I would get the opinion of local estate agents regarding any
detrimental effect on the value of your mum's house. If other
properties in the neighbourhood have got similar extensions then they
should have a good idea of the effect (if any) on neighbouring
You should also get the opinion of a good surveyor regarding the
affects (detriemental or not) of building so close to your mum's
house. Whilst it would be preferable if your neighbours paid for this
it should be YOUR surveryor who acts for you.
An obvious concern for BOTH properties would be the difficulty of
maintaining the respective gutters and consequential damp problems
affecting both if one should fail out of sight.
Finnally I would then talk to the neighbours armed with all the FACTS
and expert opinions and not just your fears. Remember that if your
Mum's wall cannot be maintained then so too is the neighbour's new
wall out of reach. It may be possible to persuade them to drop back a
few inches to allow mutual access, if your surveyor suggested it.
After all if their builder was not up to standard they may have a
bigger problem than you!
Thanks very much for all the replies on this so far, they are very much
appreciated. Would you believe it, shortly after I posted my original
message yesterday, our news server at work went AWOL so I've only just
picked up the messages from home. Hopefully it will be back online by the
time I get to work. Yesterday I spoke to the council planning dept and have
to speak to them again this morning so I might have further info later.
Lots of good advice and ideas in this thread. One exception.
House walls should last a lot more than 60 years. Maintenance isnt
always nil on interior brick walls, so it wont be on sheltered outdoor
ones either. It may be, but many times isnt. I have seen interior
walls that needed repointing to stop them collapsing. Sometimes its
necessary to gain access to repair to restore building structural
integrity when structural cracks appear. Losing access is a risk.
this isnt true at all.
I've seen it happen a number of times. Once the pointing goes, which
it does at some point, the fill of the joints comes out easily, and a
brick wall with half of its mortar fill missing is simply not a stable
wall. This is not a rare problem, it is easily seen on some
ill-maintained houses. It causes serious problems and must be
A gap you cant access is a recipe for build up of rubbish, leaves,
dirt, etc, which is liable to bridge the dpc and cause penetrating
damp. There are other ways damp can occur in such wall too, such as
dpc problems, ventilation problems, and so on. With no access your
solution options are going to be quite a bit costlier.
I would be very keen on sufficient gap for maintenance access.
Based on BRE research and Government 'Decent Home' guidance, 60 years is
the projected life of a brick exterior wall. However, this does not mean it
will fall down after 60 years.
Check out some of the brick buildings from around 1850, and see how long
mortar can last without pointing.
I don't know what professional involvement you have in building maintenance,
but my original post was correct.
I agree small gaps are normally covered to prevent vermin and rubbish
ingress, but maintenance wise there is no issue with a wall in close
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