Looking to create more living space for your family in a semi-detached house? Renovating and adding a second storey addition is a popular option in many of Sydney’s suburbs. However, renovating a semi comes with its own unique form of challenges; common wall neighbours!

We chatted to the experts from Cape Cod Australia for their best tips on how to manage the renovation of your semi to make your build as harmonious as possible.

1. Design

renovate semi detached house cape cod australia sydney inner west Neighbours generally worry that your home extension will affect their views, natural light, privacy, and some might even question the changing look.

To ensure you address their concerns whilst achieving all the benefits of your extension, your best approach is to engage a designer who has extensive experience with Semi’s. They will be able to advise you of any alternative ways to achieve what you want should there be a conflict, and also help smooth the process with Council when you apply for planning approval.

TIP: Share your plans with your neighbour early on, and note any concerns your neighbour has. Address these with your chosen designer so that later, you can explain how these were considered in the final design.

2. Damage

You neighbour may have concerns about potential damage considering you share a common wall. To address these ensure that your designer / builder has arranged:

(1) An engineer’s report on whether the party wall will support the new addition; and
(2) a dilapidation report to record any existing defects and the overall condition of your neighbour’s house.

You should also check Fair Trading NSW to ensure your builder is licensed to carry out the type of work you’re engaging them to do and that their insurances are current (check for Construction Works and Public Liability insurances).

TIP: Share copies of the Engineer’s certificate and Dilapidation report with your neighbour.

3. Mess

renovate semi detached house cape cod australia sydneyConstruction work is messy!
However this mess does not need to stay around for weeks on end driving you and your neighbours crazy.

Find out in advance how your builder plans to keep things tidy i.e. how often are rubbish pick-ups made? Make sure they have plans in place to limit the impact of construction mess on your neighbours and mess is removed from site in a timely manner.

TIP: Be aware of your builder’s daily schedule and let your neighbour know when there might be more dust than normal

4. Noise

Builders MUST comply with noise restrictions (local councils put limits on what times of day and what days work can be done). Even if your project is running over schedule or under tight time constraints, ensure they adhere to the noise restrictions.

TIP: Again, be aware of your builder’s daily schedule and let your neighbour know what hours the noisiest works will be undertaken.

In Summary,

With a little bit of planning and fore-thought, renovating a semi-detached house should be no more fraught with tension than a detached house. Just ensure you communicate with your neighbour as they will share many of the same concerns that you have.

It is important that you engage a designer and builder who is sympathetic to each concern – design, potential for damage, mess, noise and others – with the experience and systems to actively address each one.

Cape Cod Australia have designed and built additions to hundreds of semi-detached homes in the Waverley, Randwick, Mosman, and Woollahra council areas. With over 50 years’ experience, they understand your concerns and aim to make the process from design through to construction a hassle-free one for their clients. You can find their details here.

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