Home Economics: Our property finance expert answers your questions
Q Our neighbours are landscaping their garden and showed us the ambitious plans, which include a split-level deck/patio. The boundary hedge between our houses is quite low and anybody on the new raised area will be looking directly into our garden and our kitchen. Do they need permission for this or how can I object to their plans which I believe are intrusive?
A I imagine you're hoping that the summer is well and truly over and there'll be no outdoor events planned until well into 2020. This is an awkward situation alright, and Cara Walsh, Partner, Mullany Walsh Maxwells Solicitors, responds on the straightforward aspect first: "Generally speaking there is no requirement for planning permission for normal-sized extensions to the rear of a domestic dwelling. However, the exemptions carry maximum height limits and you have said they are constructing a split level deck/patio which appears to be raising the height of their garden which may fall under these rules. You should consult an architect for advice on whether or not planning permission is required.
"If you are advised it's not, then there is unfortunately no straightforward way you can object to their plans. I am encouraged that they discussed their plans with you before getting started. It is possible that they wanted to get a feel for your likely response and they might be open to compromise."
She adds, "You should be able to discuss this with them in an amicable way to see if you can reach a compromise. Explain that you both are entitled to privacy while enjoying your property. If they will not scale down their plans, you could agree a suitable boundary treatment such as hedging or fencing that protects your privacy and enhances your own garden. You have said the existing hedge is quite low so it is possible that a project such as this is overdue. Your neighbours can get this done while they have workers on-site and it would be reasonable to suggest to them that they also pay for it.
"If your neighbours refuse to make any concessions and if you feel their completed garden project will completely intrude on your privacy then you should consult your solicitor who will visit your property to ascertain if you have a cause of action. However legal engagement with neighbours is generally expensive and rarely ends in a satisfactory outcome for either neighbour."
Q My house insurance is due for renewal and I took advice you gave in a previous question about insuring for the rebuild cost, rather than sale value. While it saved me money, I want to be sure I have enough cover should the worst happen. I live in Dublin in a three-bed semi - fairly standard from the outside but I have spent a lot on interior structural work, fittings, a large rear extension etc. How do I account for this?
A The rebuild figure is the easy bit, in one sense. The SCSI (www.scsi.ie) and most insurance companies have a calculator for this on their websites, so check that first. These assume basic criteria but not extras such as a garage, de luxe kitchen, large extension etc, so you need to add an estimate onto the sum insured before you even get to contents cover.
If you over-insure, it simply means you're paying too much premium, as you'll be covered only for actual loss. However, if you under-insure on building costs, a problem arises not just if the house burns down but even if there is a partial loss, say €60,000 for a flood or fire. You'd receive a pro-rated amount based on the percentage under-insurance on the building. Under-insure by 20pc, you get 20pc less on a claim. If your house is strikingly different to standard, it would be worth getting an estate agent to value it for you.
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