A leaseholders’ guide to coping with building works

Sooner or later it’s almost inevitable that you’re going to have to deal with building works, whether they’re on your own property or your neighbours’.

It’s often a traumatic time, but a few simple steps will help you get through it with your sanity intact.

1. Accept that building works are going to take place now and then. If you live in a leasehold flat, major works will need to be done every few years to keep the block in good nick. Your managing agents should give you plenty of time to plan for it, both in financial and practical terms. Likewise, development around you is part and parcel of city living.

2. Go through all the paperwork thoroughly. In the case of renovations to your own building, you’ll want to check that unnecessary items haven’t been added to the list, and that several competitive quotes have been obtained from reputable firms. If it's external development that impacts on your property, you need to raise any concerns in good time. On the plus side, documents to do with building work often include information from surveyors, which can increase your understanding of your property and influence future decisions.

3. See the opportunities. Scaffolding, for example, is expensive, so if it's going up anyway, consider raising any other concerns about the roof or the fabric of the building that you might have been keeping quiet about. It could save you money in the long run. And neighbouring developers ought to be keen to keep on your good side, so see what you can get out of them. If they need to damage your old garden wall, make sure they build you a better one in return.

4. Plan ahead to limit the disruption. If you work from home, consider finding an alternative venue for a while. Make preparations to deal with mess, noise, and any interruptions to your power supply or parking access etc. Most importantly, be security conscious. With walls down, gates open, scaffolding up and lots of people coming and going, it's worth being a bit vigilant.

5. When it’s all over, check everything's been completed. Lists can be long, and things sometimes get overlooked. Holes might get left unfilled, a rogue window frame might remain unpainted, bits of building waste might get forgotten or a damaged fence might not be repaired. The time to bring this up is as soon as the work finishes, not six months later when the bills are all paid and everyone's busy on other jobs.