While this is good news for savvy developers, it’s often at the expense of those next door, who may face reduced privacy, reduced views, increased noise levels, and greater congestion. All of this can affect future sales and rental values.

Regardless of their scale, poorly adapted developments can have a drastic impact on the streetscape. This is of particular concern in areas with uniform heritage features and/or period homes.

Unusual building layouts can disrupt and diminish the unique appeal of a streetscape and the properties within it.

Existing owners should take it upon themselves to keep themselves regularly informed of potential changes taking place. Responsibility should never be passed on to property managers, as they have neither the time nor the incentive to fulfill this obligation.

Check regularly with local authorities to check if any projects are underway. If that’s true, what are they?

A tasteful new family home is not a problem and could even be positive. But if it’s a large, authoritative, multi-storey development with a noisy temporary construction site, a second thought is in order.

Affected owners should familiarize themselves with the potential construction and how it could potentially affect their own property. If something seems out of order, it’s important to act quickly.

Possibility of prevention

Preventing unsuitable development pre-build – albeit time-consuming and difficult – is entirely possible. Arriving late in the game and trying to remove a completed structure is often unsuccessful.

Landowners may need to hire an architect or surveyor at their own expense to assess the development and, if necessary, help build a case against it. Although it can be a frustrating upfront cost, it can save tens of thousands of dollars and years of heartache in the future.

Even if no plan is underway, it is important to consider potential contingencies. The large blocks, with small, dilapidated houses in rapidly appreciating areas, are unlikely to remain in their current state for long.

Inquire to see if current council planning and zoning rules are sufficient to control developments. But beware, even if the regulations seem firm, it is important to realize that they are always subject to change. As negative as it sounds, it’s often best to think of the worst-case scenario and work backwards.

That said, while major work can present headaches for neighboring homeowners, the opposite end of the spectrum can sometimes be worse.

High rates of capital growth have led to the rise of the land banking phenomenon in popular suburban markets. Properties can be left undisturbed for years while their owners enjoy ever-increasing capital growth and consider the timing of possible development.

Open communication

It’s less than ideal for those living next door to the often-neglected property, which at different times may be filled with itinerant tenants, left vacant, or frequented by squatters.

Although the idle land next door presents problems, the worst is when the boundaries of neighboring properties encroach. Long inattentive landowners expose themselves to the risk of adverse possession by opportunistic neighbors who claim adjacent parcels of land.

Although I haven’t exactly painted the most idyllic scenarios of neighborly relations, the best way to avoid conflict is to communicate openly.

A knock on the front door and a cup of tea might just prove more beneficial and longer lasting than a quick peek over the back fence.