Coping with neighbours’ building works

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Richard Gregory

Consultant Solicitor

Phone 01264 353411


Unless your home is surrounded by fields, trees and little else, there’s a fair chance that you will at some point be affected by other people’s building works.

Whether it’s a new driveway or an extension, the effects are rarely confined to the property itself. Noise travels, dust sticks, parking spaces fill. While some of these things will be short-lived minor irritations, others will be more intrusive. And, more likely, the cumulative effect of a series of seemingly perpetual intrusions on your enjoyment of property could have your blood boiling.

But these are your neighbours. Neighbours need to cut each other some slack from time to time; after all, you never know when you might need it. And it’s certainly true that if you can maintain a good relationship with the people next door, so much the better.

That’s why the first step, once you’ve decided that there’s an issue that needs to be addressed, should be to have a conversation. Keep calm, explain the problem and offer a solution. For example: It would make a huge difference to us if the builders start work a little later at the weekends. Getting things off to a constructive start should help, plus it will make it easier to raise issues (yes, there may be others) as the project progresses.

Of course, not all situations are easily resolved. You may have a neighbour who thinks he or she is entitled to do whatever they like to their home, in whatever way they choose to do it. That’s not the case. As well as having the correct building regulation and planning consents in place, your neighbour must be reasonable in how they carry out the work. They should have regard for you and your right to enjoy your property. They should do everything they can to limit the inconvenience caused to you and others, which would include getting the building works completed as quickly as possible and co-operating with your reasonable requests.

It is quite easy for these types of situations to begin to get out of hand, and for solicitors like us to be brought in to help sort things out. While a claim for nuisance is one option, we would never jump straight to that. Communicating directly - informally and then more formally - with your neighbour has to be the starting point, and we often help clients handle that. A further option is mediation, where a neutral third party is brought in to help people resolve their differences. It can be extremely effective.

The point is that there is usually very little to be gained – and much to be lost – from an aggressive confrontation with your neighbour. There are ways and means of addressing the issues and, if you go about this in a firm but measured way, you’ll probably find it far easier to live next door to building works now, and to your neighbours in the longer term.  

If you require any information or assistance on the matters raised in this article please contact our Litigation team by phoning 01264 353411, emailing; or by filling in our no obligation, online enquiry form.

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