Dealing with Loud Construction Works

Mike Hardwick explains that keeping communication lines open with your neighbors makes for a much smoother build
by Mike Hardwick
25th September 2019

As a keen advocate for self building, I have broadly welcomed the development of two new homes directly opposite my own.

I’ve mentioned in earlier columns how the granting of planning was not without incident, but we can live with what has been approved. I’m generally supportive – I just wish the developers would get on with finishing the things! It’s been nearly a year now and one of the properties is progressing well, but the other is only just at wall plate level with the scaffolding still in place.

It’s clear why things are going so slowly – the developer is building one home for himself, which is nearing completion. The other will be sold to help fund construction of his own home.

He’s not making any money on the second one until it’s sold, so work happens on an ad-hoc basis, when trades aren’t busy or are looking for overtime. So, most progress has happened at weekends. When anything occurs mid-week, they keep going until dark.

This leaves Alison and I in a quandary. On one hand, we want the houses finished as soon as possible, but on the other hand, we would all like to enjoy our weekends in peace.

Like most local authorities, our council has guidelines regarding weekend working. Saturday from 0900 to 1300 is perfectly fine, but Saturday afternoon and Sunday are off limits. Not to this developer, though.

First came the deployment of a petrol driven disc cutter to break through the tarmac on the lane for service trenches on Saturday afternoon. We put up with the noise and dust, but when the same crew arrived early on Sunday morning intent on finishing the job, Alison let fly.

She demanded work stopped, brandishing Wiltshire Council’s noise guidelines and insisted that such a din early on a Sunday was intolerable. She won the day and peace reigned. But not for long.

The following Tuesday, we woke to see a huge excavator tearing up a service trench all the way up our cul-de-sac, leaving us and our neighbours stranded in our own homes, potentially.

It was my turn to lose my usual sang froid and I let loose at the inconsiderate behaviour of the contractors.

I recognised the work had to be done; the bit that was missing was the knock on the door telling me the lane would be closed and that I might like to position my car elsewhere. It’s the project manager’s job to notify people living nearby of this sort of thing in advance, in writing and to subsequently remind them before the work starts.

Remember, while this may be the most exciting thing you’ve ever done as a self builder, for everyone else it’s months of irritation, noise, dust and inconvenience. Communication costs nothing but saves so much hassle for both sides, so share your contact details and keep everyone informed of what work is happening and when.

After all, you will be living next to these people in the future, so best set off on the right foot.

Mike Hardwick is a self build consultant and project management specialist. He is also NaCSBA’s general manager. He has first hand experience of the processes involved and is a regular expert at the Build It Live shows.

Follow the rest of Mike Hardwick’s blog.

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