Paul Russell


Paul Russell, of architects Russell Associates, in Greenwich provides tips on how to keep building work stress-free

Building an extension or making other structural changes to your house can enhance its value. But there is lots to consider before you start: for instance, obtaining planning permission and building regulations approval, as well as organising a builder.

Another important aspect is to avoid any dispute with your neighbours. Communication is key – especially if you require access to their land to carry out the work, or if it directly affects their property.

The first step is to come to an agreement in advance, in writing, setting out the details of the work to be undertaken. Also, include a schedule of condition of your neighbour’s side of the wall before the work starts. This is helpful for the record, in case any damage occurs.

If the project is straightforward, you can simply exchange letters with your neighbours, based on the relevant information.

Bear in mind, though, that the Party Wall Act of 1996 states that you must give adjoining owners a formal Notice of your intentions, if you are carrying out works which affect a shared wall (Party Wall); creating a new building astride the boundary line, or undertaking excavations within three metres of a neighbouring wall.

If your neighbour does not consent, you can both agree to appoint a single surveyor, to set out the works and conditions required, or each can appoint their own.

Building work can become complicated, though, so it can be worth seeking specialist advice and guidance, as soon as you plan to build.

Further information about Russell Associates is available at


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