Carrying out a reform. Tips to avoid conflicts with the neighbours | Part 1

As an architect I am very often the target of angry adjacent neighbours of any of my rehabilitation jobs regarding noise, dust and dirt from our building works and sometime we are threaten as to the legality of the works being carried out.


My first suggestion on what to do when confronted with an angry neighbour will be: be polite, do not lose your temper even if you are shouted at, insulted or offended. Obviously if you feel that the angry neighbour transgresses the line of civic behaviour firmly state that you will not talk in such conditions and suggest a different time to discuss matter. I normally leave my business card and leave.


Evidently, this method is a personal method and everyone has their own tactics but in my experience, I have never solved these types of conflicts by direct confrontation. It is always better to be helpful and polite. Having said that lets start at the beginning.


What type of building works are we discussing here?

Pull down partition walls, divide large spaces, completely reformed bathrooms and kitchen ... It is difficult to find someone who has not done any of these works at home. Let me quickly add here that written permission should be obtained from the Community of Owners, especially when it comes to major reforms. The owners of a flat or apartment or even tenants must follow a series of legal steps to avoid future conflicts if certain rules are not respected.


Your neighbours could turn the Community of Owners board or its chairman to force the cease of the building work, or that do comply with the internal regulations. It should be borne in mind that such conflicts, in extreme cases can even end up in court, resulting in payment for compensation or to loss the use of their flat or commercial unit by its owner until the judge decides.


Horizontal Law for all.

When you want to perform any type of building work in a building, the first thing you should consider is that there is no "universal rule", but the legal framework that must follow the bylaws of each city hall. However, housing condominiums, blocks of flat or any other premises governed by the "Horizontal Law" should also respect the internal bylaws. Thus, each owner can perform building works modifying the architectural, facilities or services, provided that:

  • Do not reduce or alter the building's security, configuration and general structure, or its exterior state.
  • Do not prejudice the rights of other owners.
  • Communicate the performance of such work previously to the president of the community.

That is, works cannot be annoying, unhealthy, dangerous or illegal, or endanger the safety of the building or neighbouring properties. If we incurred in any of these faults, the local police may notify you to finalize the works and, if ignored, end up in court. In any case, no owner may alter the structure of the building or the common areas; and if for whatever bona fide reasons need to carry out urgent repairs, must inform the president of the community or the administrator.


Works only be made within a specific schedules established by each municipality

The noises are one of the most annoying consequences of works, so you have to follow a strict schedule to perform the work. Although the permitted sections may vary by municipality, you can usually make works from Monday to Friday from 9:00 to 14:00 and 16:00 to 20:00 and Saturday from 10:00 to 14: 00 hours. Sunday is usually prohibited.


Building licenses and other permissions.

Before you contemplate to move a brick, if you form part of a community of Owners you should contact your president or your administrator to obtain a feed back as to whether the proposed works should be taken to the general meeting for approval or whether the president assumes responsibility and directly grants approval. Assuming you have obtained approval from the community the next hurdle is the local town hall and there you are confronted with two basic types of building licenses: mayor building works and minor building works.


The characteristics of each one will be explained in my next article here in CBN.

 

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