Legality of building a shed in our back garden

09/21/2012 - 05:10

Without going into the long and boring back story (which I will if somebody wants more details) can somebody please tell me what the laws are concerning erecting a wooden shed on a concrete base in our back garden. We live in a small house with an even smaller garden. This is flanked on one side by a 2-storey wall of our (jealous and complaining) neighbour's house,his garden wall which is over 3m high and a wall onto another piece of land which is 2.5 metres high. We had a shed which ran along the 2.5m wall and the 3m wall when we moved here but it was not on the deeds. This we knocked down when we were led to believe we had planning permission to replace it with a veranda. When said neighbour found out he complained and it turned our planning had been recinded - they just hadn't told written to tell us as at that time we were living in England (!).Anyway, the upshot is we know we can't put a permanent structure in, but can somebody definitively tell me if we can build a shed that is the same size as our old one and abuts the 2.5m wall and the 3m wall (without touching the 3m wall - we have built another wall inside of that to keep the damp off his wall). It would be made purely out of wood but we would like to put on a tiled roof.Any answers gratefully received, or if anybody knows of an English-speaking notario specialising in this type of work I can speak to I would be hugely pleased as this is just proving to be a frustrating exercise in Italian bureacracy!Thank-you!

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Thanks, but really that isn't the best bet! This is not a personal rant against you because I know everybody tries to help each other on this forum but... It was the commune who didn't write to us to tell us our planning had been rescinded - because we had an English address. It was the commune who gave our builders the boards they had to put up before starting to do the job without checking they had in fact rescinded it, and it is the commune who have changed their minds yet again on what we are allowed/not allowed to with the rest of our building works. And it was our geomet who gave us the thumbs up to say we could go ahead and then just apologised and said the commune hadn't written to him either when we had to tear down what we had already done - foundations and pillars - (jealous neighbour who also happens to be an architect complained). And several conversations with other geomets/architects in the town have shone no further clarity on the matter. Possibly doesn't help that we live in a very corrupt area of Italy and people of stature (i.e. our neighbour) hold a lot of sway with the commune. So, I was hoping for a definitve answer, link to an Italian law that I could wave under our neighbour's nose when he (which he surely will) complains about us putting up a shed. Phew - rant over!!

What a horrid situation!   Not sure if this helps but i did hear that, as long as it had wheels (i,e, moveable) you might be o.k. Am sure some of the seasoned community members can throw more light on this but  - best of luck1

In reply to by Fabbriche

What a great idea !............Stick some small wheels on it and it will not be 'permanent'. That way you can roll it away when you need to, put some chocks initially to stop it from any sort of roll and 'giovannis' your uncle!! S

Unfortunately It will be the Comune to who you have to pay your fines to if you get it wrong; so bear that in mind. Most Comunes allow the erection of small (i.e.. not habitable) garden wooden structures, without permission. If you are buying one of the pre made panel types which you just have to put together, from a supplier, then why not ask them if they know what legislation applies. In our Comune in Tuscany and others around here these are allowed, we have checked.

Its the concrete base that would be a talking (and sticking) point I think as it denotes an immovable structure (even though it is in wood). I am afraid as your neighbour is already at odds with you he would complain whatever you did. Any chance of making friends with him?.Or at least discussing what you would like to do.

We have tried the friendly smile and in fact he has no reason not to like us apart from the fact he wanted to buy our house (before we saw it) to make more parking for his house but offered the owners only a tiny amount of money to do so. I think he may also be upset cos he is an architect but we didn't ask him to do our plans. Bit difficult for us to have done that as we had no idea he was an architect at that time! I once thought I had made a breakthrough with his wife last Nov, when she actually smiled and said good morning in response to my smile and greeting. But then we got a solicitor's letter from her 10 days later telling us to cut down our trees (see my previous post!). I think we will be selling-up here as we know if we do any more building he will just complain or get the commune come along to fine us. All the other inhabitants get away with builing more storeys and then using them (illegally) as bedrooms but if we know if we were to do this he would be straight off to the commune to complain! So even though we know what the laws around here for what building works are allowed and what isn't and we have planning to build what we want we aren't allowed to use it as we want! That sounds rather Irish I know but that's the way it is here. The final straw is therefore not being able to replace our demolished shed so that my partner can store his Harley in the winter months. Anybody want a house in Campania..............?!

..we also have one horrible neighbour.  Fortunately he is not our immediate neighbour and anyway he has p++sed off everyone in the village over the years so his influence is zero.  Even so, his prescence leaves a nasty taste in the mouth, and he appears to have absolutely no problem with just standing outside your house and staring at you.

Blimey - what a bind to say the least.  The difficulty will be finding out for your particular area what is legal/illegal. We're up in Liguria so different regs and different for each commune - so in ours it's illegal tp put up a shed (though not sure if this is with or without a concrete base.) I'm guessing you've asked the question already of the locals that you're friends with? Have you got a forum for ex pats local to your area?

Grateful for all your answers - think I am having a case of the 'Italian blues' at the moment! We have had the house for 7 years but only lived here permanently for 20 months and the neighbour is a real sticking point. Nobody likes him which is some comfort and the majority of the town are lovely and have welcomed us with open arms, but there is alwalys one isn't there! Probably would be easier if we went for a pre-build but my partner is a builder and won't have any of that! Anyway he returns from the UK this weekend so we will then have to decide our future here. If you know of any cheap buildings to restore or land in Liguria would love to hear. Thank-you for all your support, nice to know we are not alone in over here!

Sorry to hear about your predicament. We can get certificates regarding energy efficiency, cadastral entries, copies of deeds...; however we will never get a certificate stating that your neighbours are going to be nice.... In our case, we have been extremely lucky, but I have heard some horror stories. Good luck with your future plans!

"Anybody want a house in Campania..............?!" Yes! I swear I kinda knew your house was somewhere in Campania - 'tis the only place that fits perfectly the type of mentality you speak of.  You've just gotta know how to handle those Napulitani - but it does depend exactly where in Campania it is - Provincia di Avellino is my guess from what you've said so far. Tell me where your house is - or at least narrow it down to the nearest town for me and I may be able to tell you how to handle your neighbourly problem - if you don't want to deal with it, then I  might buy your house - 'cus I'd have no qualms about telling your neighbour where to go - and perhaps even showing him and his wife exactly how to get there!

In reply to by Esme

Esme No - we're actually in Caserta province in a small town called Castel Volturno. At the moment we are not allowed our own sindaco ( along with Casalei di Principe and another town) because of misappropriation of funds -  what does that tell you about the area we live in? And the guy that headed up the town planning last year is now no more because he got caught-up in a building development scandal involving the Camorra and laundering of 250 million euros! Although cleared he has now been moved sideways and we await the arrival of somebody from Caserta....hhm how long will that take? By the way you gave me directions to a place on the Amalfi Coast - haven't forgotten to go there, just last time we went we did AC from the other way round and ran out of time. Will let you know when I do finally make it!  

I've seen a shed on wheels, up in Trentino where there is a far less cavalier attitude to regulations than the Mezzo-Giorno. It was in plain sight, clearly visible from the busy main road, in a prime tourist zone. The wheels looked seriously Mickey-Mouse affairs but, I dare say that technically they did the job. Go for it. If your neighbour is some kind of architect then the fact that you have found a way to beat him at his own game will give him a case of the screaming ab-dabs. Living next door to a moron is not nice so it might be an amusing idea to take up the offer in the post above. I sympathise with your builder husband on pre-build/new-build........... not with a barge-pole. They are seriously unhealthy structures to live in. When will the Italians give up their love affair with concrete? Pilch 

"Living next door to a moron is not nice so it might be an amusing idea to take up the offer in the post above." Pilch, you're absolutely right - its not nice to live next door to a moron - and that's why I've no intentions of moving next door to you!  Jane, If I were to take you seriously about your offer to sell your home - I'd have to refuse due to location. I'm sure you know exactly what you're dealing with in the Castel Volturno area - not an easy place - lots of problems, but I'd seriously get a local (not so) nice person to pin your neighbour up against a wall and tell him to vaff.... While the neighbour gets pinned up - make sure you're outta town - somewhere very public and where  others can vouch for you.  San Lazzaro is a great location - do visit. Can I ask why you choose this location to purchase and live in?

I would think about the story of the North Wind and the Sun in a contest about who could succeed in removing the coat being worn by a man. All the force of the wind had no effect - the man just buttoned it tighter. The sun of course just had to shine. Maybe you should just try and "unbutton" your neighbour with unrelenting "niceness" - daily little presents of homemade cakes, invitations to lunch, asking his advice on all sorts of things, smiling as if you think he's wonderful. It would have to be constant. If he doesn't "melt" he may just have to move away himself if he cant stomach living next door to incomprehensible saints!

Did you ever see a copy of the original planning approval? Do you know if such a document exists? Do you have a copy of the rescision of your permit stating on which grounds this has been done? It looks as if there is lots of talkand gossip but very little formal evidence. Has your geometra given you a copy of all relevant documents? 

Sounds like you've got a nightmare there. Around our way everyone tends to just get on with it and side steps the commune. Our neighbour has just built a large outhouse - as far as I know without any permission - no boards, health and safety, geometra nonsense in evidence. Same with our neighbour down the lane who has just built a large extension, as far as I can tell with no permissions.  Shame you can't just do the same on the quiet, but if your neighbours house is very close and you don't get on with him I can understand why.  Personally I would tend to have the same attitude as Esme above but I know a lot of people like to stick to the rules. Best of luck.

Just a thought Jane   Do you think part of the problem might be  P.... envy?  After all, a Harley is a very macho machine!!  Get an electric bike, it screams inadequacy to some.  (Tongue firmly in cheek here)  Best wishes and good luck.

Fabbriche - I think you maybe right,; that or he thinks we have loads of money because it is big and shiny! Ah well, watch this space and I will update you all when and if anything happens....

Your tiled roof is the problem.  Put up a garden shed, and its precaria.  A tiled roof is a permanent thing.   Campania has, I think, extended Piano Casa until 2014 - you could therefore extend your house by the 20/25% for a verandah quite legitimately (probably).  

Jane, my advice would be different. You should talk to your neighbour and explain what you would like to do and ask for his help and opinion. If you involve him in the project, he may surprise you. He is a professional and he knows what can or what cannot be done. And he will not object against his own project. You would have to pay professional fees; however, this is a small project and it should not be much. I guess that you paid for the geometra's ineffective intervention and other charges. To sell your property and to buy a new one also costs money and time. If everything fails, you can always look at other options. Forget abouut local gossip and inuendo. Never get mixed up in those things, particularly in a small town. Always talk nicely about everyone. And, as general advice to anyone doing renovations, never demolish any existing structures before getting a building permit in writing or an order from Council to demolish it, also in writing. You loose a valuable bargaining tool.

I agree with Gala. As he is your neighbour it is vital to get him on your side somehow if you want a pleasant life. He has the power to make your life hell in all sorts of ways if he feels you are "at war". Could you write him a letter asking if you can discuss any disagreements between you in a friendly manner, as you are willing to listen to his point of view if he will consider yours, and do not feel the need to resort to solicitors?

Thank you Gala, Ram and Sprostini. I think our house and yard are too little to put in a veranda (which is what we originally had planning permission for but was recinded) but after years of trying to be friendly to our neighbour I think we have no chance of a civilised discussion with him either. I also know his fees are really expensive and I am not inclined to give money to one who is so full of animosity to us. However, we maybe on the way to a solution - will keep you posted when I know more!

In reply to by JaneFAB

A secret , a surprise, still to come................!!!! The very best of (in my case) British. I always fight for what I believe is the RIGHT thing to do ! At least then, in years to come, you can look back and say 'well,...... based upon the knowledge that I had at the time, I did the right thing'. One always tries to accommodate others but it sounds like you've done all you can............ fingers crossed ! S

Jane, forgive me but if you are going to roll over every time a neighbour (especially an Italian) gives you grief over what you want to legitimately do to your own Property, then you may as well splash out an have a T-Shirt printed with 'Vittima' on it. If you think you are right in doing so get the permission and go ahead, make friends with your Mayor, as he carries the weight in most Comunes and ignore this Oik next door. Italy is full of Xenophobes and for what ever reason you will probably never be able to get on with this Guy anyway, so go ahead stand up to him and press ahead with your intentions.

In reply to by Flip

Thanks for your comments Flip, but if you read all my comments it isn't that straight-forward - most of the problem stems from the fact the commune gave us planning permission and then rescinded it and didn't tell us; the fact that he has a lot of influence in town (president of the water board amongst other things) and that the shed was built illegally many years ago. Add that to the fact that we are not allowed to have our own Mayor for at least 2 years due to the corruption round here; the majority of the Italians here speak no English whatsoever and those that do and are willing to translate put their own spin on things you will then understand how compicated it is! By the way I have just walked straight past the man in question and yet again he has blanked me - tw*t!

JaneFAB, you have missed a vowel out of the last word ! I had similar (not as serious though!) problems with one of my neighbours, it has taken three years for him to come around to accepting me, we now even stop for a chat in the village ! I agree with a lot of what others have said here, but I tend to try try try to come to a compromise and when I have had enough, I would then just go for it, the ball is then in their court to respond to you! Good Luck, S