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To not pay for my neighbours flats to be cleaned after building works?

(129 Posts)
happyfrogger Sat 20-Jul-13 10:44:17

We are 4 weeks into a 6 week renovation on the ground floor flat we just bought in London. We have 2 neighbours above, one on either side and one at the back. We are not living there whilst the work is being done (it's a building site). It's noisy and messy.

We like to think we are considerate and neighbourly, and contacted all the neighbours letting them know our plans and schedule. We have left notes and chocolates with them part way through the works and kept them informed (and continued to apologise for the disruption) along the way.

Unfortunately, they are starting to get impatient. This week we have had a very unhappy email stating how shocked and upset the neighbours are about the state our builders are leaving the place in. They expect the communal hall to be hoovered daily and no building rubbish to be left outside in the front garden at any point. (I believe it's not in their way and personally I would bear with it for this short period). We have asked our builders again to keep it cleared regularly where possible.

I am sympathetic to a point, and we have played a civil and apologetic game. The neighbour DEMANDED her windows were cleaned by us at the end of the work, we happily we said yes of course. We also pointed out we would have communal areas professionally cleaned / carpets washed at the end of the work - and make good any damage or knocks to the communal hall etc.

We visited today to keep them informed. We were met with up-tightness and attitude. I understand it is not nice living amidst this but I'm not sure what else I can do to placate them.

Above all I want to be FAIR. Today's demand was 'I think we (all the neighbours) DESERVE that you pay for all our flats to be cleaned. At which point I said 'unfortunately I think this is a hazzard of flat living, but I'm happy to have all communal areas processionally cleaned, as you know.' Perhaps I object to the word 'deserve' or that I'm being seen as the meal ticket for redecorating the hall (yes they asked for that too). I like the fact that we are moving to an area with people who care about being considerate neighbours but I think they are starting to be unfair and there is little else I feel I can do at this point.

AIBU? What else can I do / suggest that is FAIR and without setting the expectation that I can be walked over just to keep the peace???

Sister77 Sat 20-Jul-13 11:16:06

What would YOU expect if the roles were reversed? Be honest. Yes it's a pain but living in an adjacent flat and living IN the flat is different so I don't understand the comments about how you can't live there but they can. I don't blame you for moving out.
I can see both sides of the argument however and for the sake of an easier relationship in future you may have to suck it up

SolomanDaisy Sat 20-Jul-13 11:16:37

Book cleaners to clean flats affected by the mess, clean communal areas daily, ensure builders work reasonable hours, visit the site regularly and ask neighbours how it's going.

BoundandRebound Sat 20-Jul-13 11:17:37

"Because it's quite substantial, the dust is spreading and getting into their flats. Yes it is hot, and how annoying to be able to keep your windows open for the mess and dust"

So yes they do DESERVE to have their flats professionally cleaned and a bunch of flowers these people will be your neighbours, I would stop pissing them off for the sake of a few hundred pounds

MidniteScribbler Sat 20-Jul-13 11:19:32

Putting up with builders (and their associated radios, swearing and smoking) for nearly two months in the middle of a summer heatwave while the owners of the property swan off and don't make any effort to keep communal areas clean and dumping their crap in front of the property.

I'd tell you exactly where to shove your chocolates.

LittleprincessinGOLDrocks Sat 20-Jul-13 11:20:47

YABU - I lived next door to someone having a kitchen refit and it was 5 weeks of hell, constant noise and dust from 8am till 6pm, 5 days a week. I was lucky in that we are in houses so I didn't have communal hallways to content with. But just living with the noise was enough to drive me to distraction.
I felt I was driven out of my home so I could just get some peace and quiet.
You have to realise that these neighbours probably bring dirt in on their shoes from walking through the hallway. That dirt could cause difficult to remove stains in their carpets. They will want their windows open in this heat, which will allow dust in.

I think if you want harmony with your neighbours it may be best to offer them a few hours of a professional cleaner at the end of the project. If budget allows I would even consider the hire of a Rug Doctor / carpet cleaner.

happyfrogger Sat 20-Jul-13 11:24:03

"What would YOU expect if the roles were reversed? Be honest."

Everything I've done and mentioned so far - I would honestly be happy with that and think I'd been quite civil and pleasant in the circumstances. Maybe I'm just more tolerant!

"so I don't understand the comments about how you can't live there but they can. "

Unfortunately there is no gas, electricity or running water whilst the works are complete.

happyfrogger Sat 20-Jul-13 11:24:39

oh - and I didn't move out, the place was in need of work so we haven't moved in yet. We are still renting.

LastTangoInDevonshire Sat 20-Jul-13 11:24:44

Well, all I can say OP is that I am glad you are not going to be MY neighbour.

megsmouse Sat 20-Jul-13 11:25:05

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

WilsonFrickett Sat 20-Jul-13 11:25:20

Well obviously you can't time your work round anyone else's needs/desires. But having work done ourselves at the moment, and having lived next door to a major renovation in the past I can see both sides of this.

For you the mess is an acceptable part of the job - you can't have an omlette without breaking eggs. For them, it is noise, CONSTANT noise of the most ear-hurting kind, not being able to open their windows in the middle of the hot summer, feet tramping up and down, music blaring and probably some choice language to boot.

I had to put DS in the car and escape my own house yesterday, so lord knows how a retired neighbour will feel.

There probably is a lot of dust around. I honestly would pay for a clean. You're talking about one day of a contract cleaner, it will not be that much in the scheme of things.

And absolutely your builder should empty and hoover the hall every day, mine tidy and sweep and it's not a communal area.

I know it's a PITA but try living in it. We ended up selling up after the guy next door did his because of his shitty attitude.

HKat Sat 20-Jul-13 11:25:50

I think the simple solution is to ask to see the mess. If the building works have caused mess inside their flats then you should pay to have them cleaned. If it hasn't, then you don't.

happyfrogger Sat 20-Jul-13 11:26:15

"You have to realise that these neighbours probably bring dirt in on their
shoes from walking through the hallway. That dirt could cause difficult to remove stains in their carpets."

Yes - agree! We had carpets put on top of the communal carpets to keep them free from stains and damage.

limitedperiodonly Sat 20-Jul-13 11:28:11

I'd expect you to clean up at the end of every day and make good any damage at the end of the job.

That would include cleaning their flats if the dust you say has got in from your work has caused damage - ask to see.

It's a shame your neighbour was rude to you but it is hell living next to a building site and I know I got very shirty sometimes.

BTW I would think I 'deserved' to have damage put right or cleaned up too. If my neighbour behaved as if they were doing me a favour or dismissed my complaints with a 'well, what do you expect?' I'd probably be rude back to them.

Waffling Sat 20-Jul-13 11:28:34

I'd apologise to them now, and say that OF COURSE you will get the flats cleaned.

How about getting a cleaner in once a week for an hour in each flat, just to do their floors?

Besides the dust floating about, they'll be dragging it in everytime they use the hall.

You're pregnant, blame it on that! wink

forevergreek Sat 20-Jul-13 11:30:15

It's sounds a nightmare.
You should:
1) be getting cleaner/ builder in at the end of every day to Hoover all communal areas and make sure no rubbish/ stuff is left around
2) offer to clean all flats windows at the end of every week
3) def get all flats cleaned after. All that dust/ plaster dust going in windows/ under doors.

If I was living there it would really inconvient. Either myself or dh work from home most days and have x2 small children. They nap in the day, we work in day. They usually wake at 9am- bed 9pm, with day nap. If workers were drilling from 8am and all through the day it would leave us with tired grumpy children, and mean we couldn't get any work done either when they napped or just generally on phone as building work would disturb.
So basically would leave us unable to work or live properly for nearly two months.

I would also get you builders to have an agreed set lunch break time so you can share this with neighbours so they know when they can have an hours peace in day to sleep/ read/ phone/ relax etc

I'm assuming this build in costing thousands. I thing a few hundred on window cleaners, final cleaners etc is well worth it

limitedperiodonly Sat 20-Jul-13 11:31:42

Actually, don't ask to check for damage in their flats. I don't know what came over me there. That will really piss them off. Just take their word for it and offer a clean.

ConfusedPixie Sat 20-Jul-13 11:32:13

You've admitted that their flats are getting dusty and horrible because of your renovations, so in respect of that I think that you should offer to get them cleaned professionally. If it was a case that it wasn't too bad then I'd agree with you.

MidniteScribbler Sat 20-Jul-13 11:36:39

Everything I've done and mentioned so far - I would honestly be happy with that and think I'd been quite civil and pleasant in the circumstances. Maybe I'm just more tolerant!

YOU have not been living with it for six weeks. Go live in the middle of a building site for six weeks and see how you feel about it then.

Allthingspretty Sat 20-Jul-13 11:36:42

I thimk I would maybe contact a professional cleaning company and see if they can do all three flats to a certain price.

EvieanneVolvic Sat 20-Jul-13 11:41:02

I'm not being sarcastic sound perfectly charming...I mean it.

Unfortunately I think you might think this too (and why not?) eg maybe I'm more tolerant and this is blinding you to the possibility that you may be a tad in the wrong here. Clearly it's not your fault that this project is taking place in the worst month it possibly could have, but it's not your neighbours' fault either and the fact that they have reached the limits of their patience is no surprise.

As others have said, for the sake of a few hundred pounds as against what the whole project is costing, I really would suck it up (not literally!) and see it entirely from their point of view. You'll be living alongside these people. Surely it will be money well spent.

Good luck with the new baby thanks

chillybits Sat 20-Jul-13 11:42:40

Having building dust come into my house, which I would ofcourse have to keep cleaning, and having to keep my windows closed for more than the odd day in the summer would seriously piss me off. I proobably wouldn't be bold enough to ask for cash but simmering resentment would set in.

Soon you will also have a crying baby, shouty toddler and friends with the same. Unfortunately, as lovely as I'm sure you are, you are moving into a very close living situation and need to be aware that you are in one of the most self absorbed but generally irritating to others stages of life!

I would budget for keeping good relations with the neighbours and at the very least expect the builders to keep the communal areas as spotless as possible.

happyfrogger Sat 20-Jul-13 11:43:09

ok, it sounds like the majority rules here! I will relent and offer to have their flats cleaned at the end of the work.

Yes, it is only a fraction of the cost, but I just object being spoken to so rudely!

And to put it in context, the neighbour didn't get in my good books when she (a) asked our builder to look at her gas leak on our paid time because she thought we must be using her supply with the amount she has been paying recently and (b) said to us today 'the noise was so loud I couldn't hear if the Muslim on the news was going to blow up the houses of parliament or westminster abbey' - WTF?

Plus she is using our roof as a terrace when it's not built/insured for that, so I fear asking her to insure/change that will not make her happy...

Safe to say we will be pleasant but sadly we haven't found our new bff next door!

Thanks for your opinions smile

LEMisdisappointed Sat 20-Jul-13 11:43:59

YABtotallyU your neighbours shouldn't even have had to ask!! You have chosen to do a total renovation of the bottom flat, you chose a building "project" your neighbours did not. You have to live with these people for period of time in your "development" so you need to be bloody considerate to their lives as well. The dust will be everywhere - fuck the communal carpets, they will be walking dust and grit into their own homes. I quite frankly am astounded that your builders were leaving tools and rubbish in communal areas - those areas absolutely should be cleared EVERY day, if that costs you more, well so be it, it should have been one of the considerations within your budget!

I think your neighbours have been pretty patient by the sounds of it, but i cannot believe you are getting uppity about repairing the damage YOU have caused!

My DP is a builder and one of the things he is most adamant about is leaving the site clean, if your builders can't manage this, maybe you need to reconsider!

HenWithAttitude Sat 20-Jul-13 11:45:33

As others have said, for the sake of a few hundred pounds as against what the whole project is costing, I really would suck it up (not literally!) and see it entirely from their point of view. You'll be living alongside these people. Surely it will be money well spent I agree totally with this

limitedperiodonly Sat 20-Jul-13 11:45:36

My other neighbour needed to put scaffolding in my garden to repair his roof. I was a bit miffed as it was summer and it was going to be for a month and the scaffolding would take up half my small garden. But the work needed to be done so I didn't complain.

Then the cheeky sod offered me a case of wine for my trouble and thought he was being generous.

We drew a rental agreement with a penalty clause for overstaying. To this day he behaves as if I'm the unreasonable one.

Possibly your box of chocolates has gone down in the same way.

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