How Close to My Neighbor’s Boundary Can I Build?

You’ll have to deal with property lines if you want to build a garage, a shed, or a fence next to your neighbor’s house.

When it comes to building on your land, you’ll have to meet different standards depending on where you live, whether it’s in a city or rural location.

The maximum distance you can build depends on the type of structure you plan to build. It’s normally between 5 and 15 feet long.

Before undertaking any long-term or short-term projects, make sure your neighbour is aware of your property borders.

Otherwise, you could face fines from the township or the county.

The property boundary laws vary depending on the type of permanent fixture you wish to construct, such as sheds, pools, fences, or other structures.

The legal criteria imposed by your local government determine how far you can go with these kinds of projects.

If you want to know how close you can construct to your neighbor’s property line, keep reading.

What is a Boundary Line?

Boundary lines delineate the point at which your property stops and that of your neighbours begins. They serve this purpose.

A simple hedge, fence, or even a tree can serve as a border marker. It’s also possible that there’s no outward sign of it at all.

In the UK, most boundary lines are not formally recorded however you may have a title card or even a boundary agreement with your neighbour that can be sought.

Get in contact with a building surveyor in Cornwall today to learn more about determining your property’s boundary lines, or visit our blog for additional information.

What to Know Before Building a Structure

You need to be aware of a few phrases and scenarios whether you are a first-time house owner or if you are learning about property law for the first time.

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When discussing building permits, it’s important to remember the following fundamental terms:

  • Setbacks
  • Easements
  • Quitclaim deeds

Your options when it comes to making an agreement with your neighbour or with the local government will be more clear if you use this terminology.

Last but not least, make sure to communicate effectively with everyone involved in the constructing process, and do your homework so that you don’t run into any snags.


Setting back a structure from the property line is referred to as a setback.

Additionally, the distance between your house and the new garage you intend to construct is included in the setback calculation.

Depending on the size of the municipality or county, the distance between a new building and an existing structure, sidewalk, or river can be set by the local government.


If your property boundaries don’t allow for the expansion or construction of a new building, you may want to talk to your neighbour about a property arrangement.

Easements allow you to use a portion of your neighbor’s property, which can be implied or legally enforceable.

In the event of a property dispute following an easement agreement, the easement might be referenced.

In such a scenario, it is highly suggested that the agreement on an easement between neighbours be documented in some way.

Release of Claims

To make their property borders more even, neighbours who don’t know where theirs finish may use a quitclaim deed as a formal arrangement.

To ensure that future owners have a clear understanding of the boundaries of the property, a lawyer must sign off on the original property documents before any alterations can be made.

Research and Communication

Talk to your neighbors and the local authority about your plans to develop near a property border.

Talking about your plans with individuals who may be affected by them is the greatest way to avoid future misunderstandings and problems.

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The first step in this procedure is to figure out where to begin and who to contact.

Before making any construction plans, do some research into who your local government authorities are and who oversees the issuance of building licenses in your area.

The permit process can take a long time, therefore the sooner you apply for a permit, the better.

You will be unable to begin work if your building permit is not approved, and you will be subject to fines if you do not.

If your permit application is turned down, you may be able to have the decision reviewed by the zoning board in your state.

Permissions Take Time.

There are two parts to the permission process: first, submitting the permit, and then obtaining authorization.

Before you can begin construction, all building permits must be approved, which can take anything from a few days to a few months.

Following a property survey is an ideal time to apply for a building permit, but timing is important.

A permit’s validity may be limited to six months or a year, depending on the state regulations.

Start work immediately once your permit has been approved because some permits are invalid if the building does not begin or is not completed by a certain deadline.

Which Projects Require Permits?

In most cases, you’ll need a building permit for any substantial renovation or structural addition to your property.

In most cases, interior modifications do not require a permit because they do not encroach on other property boundaries or the ease of access to and from your neighbor’s land.

If you’re going to do any work on the external walls, porch, or patio, you’ll likely require a permit.

The most common major projects that require building permits include:

  • Patios/Patio Covers or decks
  • Gazebos
  • Swimming pools
  • Garages
  • Sheds
  • Floor additions

Restrictions are imposed on projects involving load-bearing structures, utility alterations, and undertakings costing more than $5,000 that require a permit.

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Utilities are among the things that have undergone changes.

  • Plumbing
  • Electrical
  • Heating & cooling
  • Structural, such as floor additions or extensive repairs

Permits may be required for some parts of your project if they meet the above criteria.

If you have any doubts about a project, it’s better to contact and find out than to face the chance of being fined afterward.

Building Penalties and Disputes

If the required permissions are not obtained, it is illegal to construct any kind of permanent or difficult-to-remove construction near the boundary line that separates your land from that of your neighbor.

If you are found in violation of this rule, you may be fined, and/or the authority may order the removal of the structure, after which they may bill you.

An investigation may turn up anything from fines to criminal charges for this type of zoning violation, which is called a zoning infraction.

Once a structure or addition to a property is completed, it must be inspected many times to ensure that safety standards are satisfied. For negligent quality, fines may be incurred.

Long-term consequences, such as the inability to apply for new permits, can also be imposed as punishments.

If a property does not follow current zoning regulations, it may sell for less than market value or never be listed for sale at all.

Appeals can be made in the event of a violation in order to try to get the matter resolved.


Getting a building permit, determining one’s property borders, and starting construction all take time and effort, especially if this is your first time applying for one.

One of the biggest delights of homeownership is the final product, which brings with it a sense of long-awaited fulfillment and exhilaration.

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