Lawlink – What can I do about disruption caused by neighbouring building work?

Stock photo.

Q: My husband and I live in a terrace house on the main street of a busy County Limerick road. The property to one side of us had unfortunately been idle for some time – the owners moved abroad many years ago. We were delighted to hear that the owners had looked for permission to rebuild and turn what was an older home into three modern apartments. We would have known the owners well, and they called us with copies of the plans etc. Works have now started and unfortunately there is a significant amount of noise at all hours of the day and weekend. We have spoken to the owners but, as they are living abroad, they say there is little they can do. The developers are also unhelpful, saying it’s not their problem. Is there anything we can do?

Dear Reader,

The first thing to mention is that the owners, as the ones employing the contractors, absolutely have the ability to tell those employed by them to perform, or not perform, certain acts. While they may not be on the ground supervising, they are the parties that are in control.

Of course, you do wish to maintain good relationships with the owners, but that should be a two-way street. Further, a certain amount of noise and interruption is to be expected, but it must be limited and not too onerous for you.

You should look at the relevant planning permission, as they would usually have restrictions on when and how works can be carried out, especially in a built-up area. If there is such a breach of permission, you can make a complaint to the local authority. However, prior to doing so, you should contact the owners via email or by phone confirming that there has been breaches of the planning laws noting that while you do not want to make a complaint, if the breaches of the planning laws regarding the noise persist, you will have no option.

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If there are no such restrictions in the planning permission, which I doubt, you should enquire with the local authority as to whether the nuisance constitutes noise pollution.

It may also be wise to take photographs of your property as it is now. It is possible that such heavy construction works may cause plaster cracking, damage to roof tiles, etc. You should make and update detailed notes on when noise starts and ends, what works appear to be progressing, conversations you have with the contractors or owners, etc.

If any such damage occurs, or if the noise and construction occur such that there is a substantial interference with your enjoyment of the property, you are entitled to sue the owners as well as their contractors as a tort of nuisance.

Ideally, either the works will move onto a less destructive phase or you will be able to reach a more suitable arrangement with your neighbours.