I live in a building converted from an old red-brick school, which has double-height rooms which were classrooms, with large windows (1m wide x 3m high) which go down to floor level.

I'm on the 2nd floor, so there is the 1st floor, and ground floor below. The ground floor flats have gardens which are not next to any street.

My immediate neighbour has suggested we have a 2m balcony built along the length of our apartments. Aside from getting planning permission, I'm concerned that we wouldn't be able to get access to build scaffolding (or move materials in) from the ground floor owners.

Would it possible for the building work to be conducted from our apartments, e.g. by opening up the windows and running a platform out? Is this a 'done thing'?

closed as too broad by isherwood, The Evil Greebo, Tyson, Daniel Griscom, Machavity Jul 25 '18 at 18:48

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  • What sort of roof does your building have? Is it perhaps a flat roof you can walk out on? If so you could possibly suspend a platform like windows cleaners do on high-rise buildings... – brhans Jul 23 '18 at 11:44
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    Wouldn't this profoundly change the appearance of the front of this "historic" building? And wouldn't such an addition strongly affect the ground floor flats? I'm thinking of shade, not to say privacy? I would anticipate vigorous and well founded objections to this plan. – Jim Stewart Jul 23 '18 at 12:46
  • @brhans there are apartments above, with roof terraces. – mcintyre321 Jul 23 '18 at 13:24
  • @JimStewart it's not listed, and the side of the building I live on is barely visible as there is another block of flats at the end of the gardens. I suspect in terms of light wouldn't make much difference as we are so high up, although I suspect 2m is larger than necessary. These are all secondary questions though, there's no point in getting plans done if it can't be built. – mcintyre321 Jul 23 '18 at 13:24

Your plan has some far more serious considerations than just the change of looks, approval of the neighbors and building activity access. You cannot just hang a two meter wide balcony decking on the side of the building without some careful engineering.

Support legs for the outer edge that go to the ground or large angle braces that would attach to the side of the building above or below your floor are out of the question for obvious reasons. This means that only remaining possible option is to use a cantilever design where the deck support is provided by beams or timbers that project over the outside supporting wall of the building but then tie into the floor structure a good way back inside the building. For a 2 meter projection outside you would be looking at a good 4 meters or more of beam or timber length inside.

Whether the cantilever design would even be possible would depend upon many factors:

  1. Does the outside wall have sufficient structural strength to support the cantilever beams? Particularly considering the ceiling height windows below.
  2. Could you even open the outside wall up enough to make access to poke out the beams from the inside?
  3. Is the building floor construction even allow for tearing it open for beam insertion? Some brick buildings have concrete floors.
  4. Even if the building has an internal wooden structure for the floor joists are they parallel to the outside wall? If so then inserting cantilever beams is basically out of question.
  5. Remember that your floor is the ceiling of the neighbors below. If you start to tear into the floor it is pretty hard to believe that it would not require some pretty serious cooperation and disruption of the neighbors.
  • "large angle braces that would attach to the side of the building above or below your floor are out of the question for obvious reasons". What are the reasons? – Jimmy Fix-it Jul 23 '18 at 17:54
  • I said that due to the nature of the question. Even access to deliver and deploy materials that impinge of the neighbors seems to be out of the question, then yet reworking the outside of neighbors walls/views. – Michael Karas Jul 23 '18 at 18:35

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