Construction is a great way to add value to property. It’s also an effective way to annoy your neighbours. They will have to deal with the noise involved, as well as the litter and debris in your vicinity. Construction projects throw up a lot of dust and dirt, which means in addition to all the machines and cacophony, your neighbour will have to clean more often.
Depending on the kind of relationship you have with your neighbours, things can get a lot more intimate. For example, if you need a place to stay during construction, they might let your crash at theirs. You could also sweeten the deal by offering to ease their discomfort.
You might pay for a professional cleaning service. That way, the neighbour doesn’t have to worry about the extra dirt and mess. You might get them an unrelated service, like landscaping, just to say thank you for dealing with the noise. If they have young kids, you could offer to babysit, since the noise will keep them awake and excitable.
Sometimes, the trouble with neighbouring construction is less social and more practical. With all those construction teams walking in and out of your building site, security may be compromised. You’ve probably taken measures to ensure the team of workers can’t access your valuables, but they can still affect your neighbours.
Items that are left in the yard might disappear, and with so many strangers around, it’s impossible to prevent them from sneaking into the neighbour’s home when no one is looking. In that sense, your neighbour’s safety concerns might be valid. You can offer to watch their house during construction, just to ease their minds.
Granny flats can only be constructed as secondary residential dwellings. You can’t install them on an apartment block, and the maximum allowable height is 8.5 metres. That means you can avoid drama by making sure there’s always someone in the main house during construction. It’s not fool-proof, but it can at least ease your neighbour’s worry.
From a legal standpoint, you don’t have to notify your neighbours. Once you have the approval to build, there’s not much they can do. They can’t apply to have construction stopped because the basis of their complaints will all be covered in the approval process.
The 8.5-metre maximum height protects their privacy. The 3-metre distance from back lot boundaries and 0.9 metres from side boundaries also ensures your neighbours’ discretion is preserved. Regulations ensure that your granny flat is 60m2 to 80m2 and it has to share the sewers and water supply with the main house, so it can’t tax communal utilities.
Another issue is communal land. Your co-owners might be unhappy with the additional flat on their joint property. This problem doesn’t arise because you can’t install a granny flat on communal land, heritage land, subdivided land, environmentally protected land, or commercial land. You also can’t subdivide a lot after installing a granny flat.
Since granny flats can’t be rented out in many council zones, it’s unlikely you will move out after installing it. You might rent out your main residence, but your new tenants can’t rent out the granny flat. It can often only be used by someone related to the residents of the main house.
Either way, you still have to get along with the neighbours once the hassle of construction is complete. So in the interests of good neighbourliness, you should probably tell them about your construction plans. Even if you don’t, the approval council will notify your neighbours two weeks before they give you the go-ahead. Once you have official permission, your neighbours will get a second notification one week before construction begins.
Of course, you could avoid all the drama by installing a prefabricated granny flat. You will avoid the noise, mess, and fuss of building a flat from scratch. Prefab flats can be assembled in as little as a day, and they need a minimum number of staff to put them up. You can order delivery when your neighbours leave for work and have it up long before they get home.
While this reduces the hassle of getting your neighbour’s go-ahead, it would still be nice to let them know. Coming home from work and finding a new house implanted next door can be a little disorienting, so maybe send them a note, a fruit basket, and a bottle of wine. Then invite them over for a granny-flat-warming barbeque.