Building Works And Neighbour Relationships

Build It expert Mike Hardwick
by Mike Hardwick
30th January 2019

Well, life has turned into a busman’s holiday for me. Tucked away in our little corner of north Wiltshire, the silence is delightful.

Living on a cul-de-sac off a cul-de-sac, traffic is reduced to virtually nothing, and we awake to the gentle sound of leaves rustling and birds twittering. Or, at least, we used to.

Work has started on the two self build homes opposite our house and the builders are going for it.

Our idyllic life was rudely interrupted at 8am one Saturday, when the first truck arrived carrying sheets of temporary fencing, which were thrown off the vehicle with a rattling crash. Alison and I winced with each jarring noise, heads gradually moving under pillows.

They even returned on Sunday, when groundworks started and the trenches were dug to a chorus of clanking excavator buckets, revving diesel engines and Radio 1.

I suppose it’s a good sign. I understand that the builder will live in one dwelling while the other will be sold to cover costs. I’m guessing that while constructing the one for themselves, they are losing income from building someone else’s property, so the quicker they finish, the better for everyone.

From my point of view, the earlier it’s completed, the sooner the disruption will be over and we can enjoy peace and quiet again. We are actually getting on well with the workmen, and to be fair, they are doing their best to minimise the inconvenience to us.

There has been one ‘oops!’ moment so far. My neighbour lost his water supply in the evening and called Wessex Water to investigate. Ours was fine, but the supplier duly sent someone to check the situation at the meter.

All seemed normal – so it had to be a problem between the meter and the house. An inspection of the newly dug trenches over the road found a freshly severed blue plastic pipe bent double and closed over with a tie-wrap.

Now, 30difficulties and accidents do happen, and nobody knew the duct was there when the excavator bucket went in, but the lack of thought from the ground-workers is troubling.

That hose would have been gushing water as it broke, but nobody thought to see where it went – they just closed it off and went home for the day.

Obviously, my neighbour was not happy. He was concerned that his water supply would be bodged back together and buried in concrete, storing problems for later. Luckily, it was actually fully resolved the next day, but he made the point that no one from the site had introduced themselves to explain what was going on and he didn’t know who to contact to resolve the problem.

The lesson here is to involve the neighbours when doing your own project. They are not going to be happy that their lives will be disrupted, but doing what you can to resolve issues is crucial if you are not going to lose goodwill.

A note detailing a point of contact, a phone number and an email address is the bare minimum requirement to keep everybody happy.

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