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Quiet Home Life Interrupted by Noisy Neighbours Building Work

As the old adage goes, “an Englishman’s home is his castle”, and this was clearly demonstrated by the enormous amount of money that we spend on DIY and home improvements in 2021. According to the Renovation Nation Report, over 77% of homeowners spent money on improving their properties, representing a collective investment of over £21bn. Not surprisingly, due to COVID-19, people invested the most in their gardens, followed by their living rooms, bedrooms, kitchens, and bathrooms. Home DIY and renovations may be fun and exciting for those carrying out the work, but for neighbours, the building work, whether internal or external, can be extremely disruptive in terms of noise, damage to their property, blocked access, and dust. In some cases, those affected by building work may decide to take legal action against their neighbours for the upheaval caused. In this article, we will look at the rights of householders when neighbours carry out disruptive building work.

19 August 2022
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The Party Wall etc. Act 1996 (PWA 1996)

One of the most important areas of law to understand if your neighbours are undertaking building or renovation work is the PWA 1996. The PWA provides a way for neighbours in England and Wales with a shared boundary to carry out building works, including:

  • Building or demolishing a party wall or structure
  • Carrying out repairs to a party structure
  • Excavating a site up to six metres from neighbouring buildings

The PWA was put in place precisely because construction work can cause damage to a neighbouring property and interrupt the occupier’s use and enjoyment of their home. Anyone planning to undertake work covered by the PWA is legally required to give proper notice to adjoining homeowners of the intended plans. It is important to note that some work is simply too minor to be covered by the PWA, including drilling holes for plugs/screws to fix ordinary units to the wall and removing old plaster.

The PWA provides a comprehensive dispute resolution process in the event that the adjoining owner does not consent within 14 days of the building owner’s notice. Section 7 of the PWA also deals with the payment of compensation of neighbours building work, if “unnecessary inconvenience” is caused or as a result of damage to property by neighbours building work. 

Can my neighbour do building work on a Sunday?

We are often asked, is it illegal to do building work on a Sunday? Local authorities impose their own rules on when general construction work is permitted under the Control of Pollution Act 1974, including the legal start time for building work. For example, some councils set the legal time for building work to start between Monday to Friday, 8 am to 6 pm, and Saturdays, 8 am to 1 pm, but prohibit work on Sundays and bank holidays. Of course, these rules do not prevent homeowners from carrying out any work, but rather work that is noisy or may cause other pollution such as dust. Noisy activities may include:

  • Use of hand tools 
  • Use of Power tools 
  • Use of plant equipment 
  • Use of Pile drivers
  • Erecting and dismantling of scaffolding
  • Work in partition walls 

It is recommended to check the restrictions on noisy works that apply in your area with your local authority as to the legal time for building work to start.

Noise from railway construction works

Given the proximity of many railways to homes, it is common for rail construction work to affect neighbouring properties and homeowners. Where work relates to maintenance or adding new track, the responsibility falls to Network Rail. Unlike normal construction work,  section 122 of the Railways Act 1993 gives Network Rail and train operators a statutory defence to proceedings for nuisances such as noise or vibration. This only applies, however, if the company has exercised ‘reasonable diligence’ in controlling the noise or vibration.

How to complain about neighbours building work in the UK

Where building work may upset neighbours, the first step in resolving the matter is to speak directly to those carrying out the building work. In most cases, this is sufficient to reach a satisfactory resolution; if not, some of the other options available include:

  • Raising a formal complaint with your local authority, who have a legal duty to investigate any statutory nuisance. If they agree that the noise constitutes a statutory nuisance, they can issue a noise abatement order requiring the person causing the noise to comply with the permissible hours for building work. 
  • Consider an Alternative Dispute Resolution method such as mediation. Mediation involves a specially trained impartial mediator who attempts to find a resolution between the disputing parties. 
  • If all else fails, it may be possible to seek a private nuisance injunction through the courts if your neighbour is causing unreasonable interference with the use or enjoyment of your land. 

Final words on neighbours building work noise

We all have the right to the enjoyment of our property. Most homeowners are extremely considerate of their neighbours when carrying out building work and will quickly take action to prevent any inconvenience if asked to do so. If your neighbours are carrying out building work in an unreasonable and disruptive manner, speak to a property disputes Solicitor who will be able to explain your legal rights and the remedies available to you. They will be able to advise you on any matter relating to your neighbour’s building work noise and help you to navigate the dispute resolution process. You can read more about having noisy neighbours, and what you can do about it, in our recent blog on how to deal with noisy neighbours.

Guillaumes LLP Solicitors is a full-service law firm based in Weybridge, Surrey. We have a highly experienced team of property and dispute Solicitors who can assist you with any legal matter relating to neighbour building disputes. To make an appointment, please call us on 01932 840 111.