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Realistically what can our lawyer WFH neighbours do to stop our (noisy) building work
169

SpotOnMyBot · 21/09/2022 13:41

We are undergoing a massive renovation project on the house. This was 100% necessary - there were 2 extensions at the back of the house that were falling down (attached to their side) that were always going to need to be rebuilt.

We have been going for only 4 weeks and we've already had 2 letters from the one set of neighbours complaining about absolutely everything from mess to noise based on the reasoning that they WFH permanently and find it 'unfair' that we have noisy works going on.

They've now escalated their letter and told us that they will 'take action' if we don't take action immediately (not sure what action we can take - what it seems they would like is for us to stop work every day so they can have some peace and quiet).

We've made sure the builders only operate in the considerate constructor hours, the builders have said they will clean their roof (this is one of their issues about the mess) but that their roof is covered in moss so they are only willing to clean the dust off it. The neighbours are claiming they are working outside hours and making more 'mess than is necessary' and not cleaning it up. They may arrive before 8am but they don't start work till after 8am - they claim this is not good enough as they sleep till after 8am and workmen arriving before 8am is too early for them.

They want to take legal action but I'm not sure what they can do - does anyone know? Given they are both lawyers, they will have the means and the ability to do this so we want to be careful! It is noisy now as they are having to demolish things but it will get less noisy as time goes on - we have told them this but they are not interested.

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SpotOnMyBot · 21/09/2022 13:45

btw one thing they have threatened to do is get a professional cleaner in once a week and send us the bill !

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Digimoor · 21/09/2022 13:51

Let me guess - you are not living there while the work is ongoing?

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AquaticSewingMachine · 21/09/2022 13:51

If you are sticking to local regs regarding hours, they can do the grand total of fuck all. They're trying to intimidate you. It sucks to be WFH next to building noise (been there) but building and renovation works have to be done, so they will have to suck it up buttercup or find temporary office space elsewhere.

Ignore them.

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BoredOfGrey22 · 21/09/2022 13:54

Are you 100% sure your builders are acting appropriately, cleanly and professionally at all times? It's hard to know what they are doing when you're not there. My builders smoked a lot which really losses my neighbours off.

You need to try and salvage relationships with your neighbours if you're planning on living in your house long term. Noisy building work is incredibly annoying but if it's necessary it can't be helped.

I think seeing as you're causing them stress with the noise and dirt, you could clean their roof which will cost you a few quid. Not a lot in the grand scheme of things.

We did a renovation which took 5 months , but we offered to pay for new garden fences on all sides (so we paid for it all, neighbours paid nothing) as a gesture of good will.

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Marchmount · 21/09/2022 13:55

4 weeks in and still in the demolition phase. I feel sorry for your neighbours. It must be torture for them. What is the plan for the rest of the project?

when you say that they are proposing to get professional cleaners in do you mean that they are getting debris in their house?

Accept that it may need to be completed but you should do all you can to fall out with your neighbours if you’re planning to stay there for a while. Keep a log of all comings and goings on site so you can prove hours worked etc & ask the builders what they suggest to minimise the mess/ noise?

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ivykaty44 · 21/09/2022 13:58

hiw long are the building works projected to take?

are the builders playing music?

what can you do to compromise?

are you living in the house?

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SpotOnMyBot · 21/09/2022 14:01

we are still partly there and have a camera up monitoring the comings and goings

the extensions out the back were falling down when we bought the house so they knew this was coming....it's v tricky bringing them down without bringing theirs down so it's quite complicated work and takes a bit of time.

the cleaning is their roof - there is dust landing on the roof of their extension and they (ideally) want it cleaned every day which isn't practical - we have explained this to them, they seem to accept it, then write another legal letter. We've volunteered to clean it weekly (of dust). Builders really unkeen to do too much on their roof as it's not in great condition and lead builder thinks they are pulling a fast one to try and get a better roof.

We lived in the house for a year before the work started. All other neighbours are fine and on board - the house was a local eyesore which needed fixing so most people are happy we are doing it! We are putting a new fence up for both sides (already committed).

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IrisVersicolor · 21/09/2022 14:01

I’ve WFH through 3 long building projects from both neighbours. There is nothing they can do.

One thing that helped though was the last of the projects they asked their builders to work without radios. That made a major difference. Turns out radio blare is more invasive than crashes and thumps.

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SpotOnMyBot · 21/09/2022 14:03

they aren't complaining about the builders being noisy in terms of music/talking/smoking, they just want the actual building works to be less noisy (and there is nothing we can do about it). Any delay in those works means it will just take longer as this has to be done (or the back of the house will fall down).

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escapingthecity · 21/09/2022 14:03

It's really worth trying to keep on good terms with neighbours when you're doing major works. We have in the past:

  • shown neighbours plans before putting in for formal planning so they know what's going on
  • paid for the boundary line fences to be replaced so our neighbours benefited
  • offered to pay for window cleaners given the dust created by building work
  • ensured they have our contact details so they can let us know straight away of any issues
  • kept them up to date with each phase of building and whether there are any delays etc so they knew when it would finish
  • marked events like Easter/Christmas with tins of posh expensive biscuits etc

It's awful living next to building work so I empathise with your neighbours, but I respect you do need to get this done. How long are they due to take?
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TooManyMoronsHere · 21/09/2022 14:04

I don't think legally they can do anything. I work in construction and have done massive skyscraper buildings in zone 1 next to houses of Judge's. We received endless letters from them and whilst I empathised, they were out purely for monetary compensation, in the end we paid to replace their windows with triple glazing to keep them happy.

I'm sure your legal neighbours have an office sitting empty somewhere where they most definitely can work.

To cover your back I would maybe set up acoustic detectors which monitors the noise level and also record working hours. As long as you are not exceeding working hours which is when the council would clamp down on us then there is nothing they can do.

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IrisVersicolor · 21/09/2022 14:04

SpotOnMyBot · 21/09/2022 14:03

they aren't complaining about the builders being noisy in terms of music/talking/smoking, they just want the actual building works to be less noisy (and there is nothing we can do about it). Any delay in those works means it will just take longer as this has to be done (or the back of the house will fall down).

Me too and I didn’t think turning radios off would make any odds but actually it made a big difference.

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MadAndGlad · 21/09/2022 14:05

That's why working in an office is the norm. If you're working from home you have to accept that people will be having work done on their properties. Tell them to go to the office or a library/IT cafe if they can't cope!

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justasking111 · 21/09/2022 14:06

We've retired neighbours anything before 10 am noise wise they complain 🙈

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SpotOnMyBot · 21/09/2022 14:06

the (very) noisy part of the works is only going to take 6-8 weeks - rest of it is rebuilding what has been taken down so is a lot less noisy!

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Fulmar · 21/09/2022 14:07

Lawyers are very good at writing letters that make the recipient think they must be breaking some laws that the lawyers know about and there will be trouble if they don't stop. They are good at being intimidating, they lose nothing from writing the letters.

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SpotOnMyBot · 21/09/2022 14:08

ok thanks, yes I will go and see them and try and pacify them a bit more. That's a good idea to get an acoustic monitor, I will do that. I have the camera recording the hours so can see when work is starting but noise monitoring is a good idea.

yes, they told me they sleep in till after 8am. I felt like saying lucky you :)

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whovillewho · 21/09/2022 14:08

Suggest making sure builders are not arriving too early and that they understand to be quiet when they arrive on site (no door slamming, shouting). Agree with previous suggestion that you should agree to clean their roof, properly, ie remove the moss - so that there is a perceived benefit to them. And find out why they feel they need a cleaner - and consider paying for one if they are being impacted by dust / debris. How much longer will the very noisy (demolition) works go on for? Can you agree to limit the time each day for the very noisy activities?

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SeriousChild · 21/09/2022 14:09

Put yourself in their shoes and do what you'd like to be done.

Legalities are one thing, just being decent about it doesn't need legal advice from MN.

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PersonaNonGarter · 21/09/2022 14:09

If they are lawyers then they would have told you what action they were going to take. They haven’t told you, because they know there is none.

They, like everyone else, have to live with the reality that things need to get built.

I agree that it’s important to try to stay in good terms with your neighbours. The reality is you want different things. I think whatever you do will now be met with resentment so you may want to consider doing nothing but sending an email with ‘I am so sorry to hear that. Please let me know details if they are making noise outside the considerate construction hours’. Then blank. P

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Rosehugger · 21/09/2022 14:11

^it's v tricky bringing them down without bringing theirs down so it's quite complicated work and takes a bit of time.

Hope you have a party wall agreement with them then.

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LadyDespair · 21/09/2022 14:15

IrisVersicolor · 21/09/2022 14:04

Me too and I didn’t think turning radios off would make any odds but actually it made a big difference.

I agree that not allowing radios really does make a difference. I don’t mind at all the sound of banging, drilling, excavating and so on; all of those are necessary noises related to the necessary work. Having Eurotrash-style radio on full blast is not.

Also (awaits a blasting!) ime builders are often just really loud people. Shouting rather than talking, slamming van doors and leaving engines running for ages. I don’t know why they can’t be quiet sometimes…

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ThreeFeetTall · 21/09/2022 14:16

IMO You need to tell the builders if they arrive early to not slam car doors, loudly chat, bang about with tools. But after 8am crack on.

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FrownedUpon · 21/09/2022 14:17

Your poor neighbours. It must be awful for them. They’ll obviously know exactly what you can & can’t do, so I’d be very wary & make sure your builders are following proper procedures.

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SpotOnMyBot · 21/09/2022 14:18

yes of course, all legalities done properly (party wall all finished, had to get an amendment done as it turned out between their solicitor and ours, they did the wrong agreement first of all, but all sorted now).

I don't think we are doing anything indecent. We have lived through loads of building works in this house and the one before that. I just can't see why their WFH trumps the right to do the works that are absolutely 100% necessary. No one else is complaining. They have been really difficult from the start so we expected this but I don't appreciate increasingly threatening legal letters from people, especially when most of their claims have no substance. We are pleasant and friendly and bowing down to some of their demands but there isn't too much more that we can do.

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