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F E Smith
F E Smith, Advocate
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 15112
Experience:  I have been practising for 30 years.
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We are a family of 4 in isolation in our home since last

Customer Question

Good morning, we are a family of 4 in isolation in our home since last week when our daughter who is 5 started having high temperatures, a persistent cough and breathing rapidly, the GP said it was probably Coronavirus and that we could not go outside. We also have a 1 year old baby. Our nextdoor neighbour has Building work since January but last week started knocking down walls meaning that our daughter can't rest and recover, she is getting very stressed and anxious with the constant noise, our baby can'thave a nap during the day and my husband can't work from home and do his calls with work which is putting him and us in a very difficult position when it comes to income. The whole house shakes with the noise. We used an app to mesure the levels and they are very high, it's like having a lawnmower working next to you all day long. I called the lady who owns the house and she said there was nothing she could do and if we were to stop all work the economy would implode and put me in contact with her Project Manager who said that they can't stop or do less noisy activities because of financial impact to the project and that if our baby wanted a nap that he could have one during the builders lunchtime. He also told me to call the Council but that they wouldn't do anything as they are complying with the working hours during the days of the week and he also said that if they send the builders home that they will not get paid as they are on a day rate, a very precarious situation. I understand this but how are we supposed to rest and recover from this, I see the effect this is having on my family. I'm now having to homeschool ss the school is shut but I can't given the constant noise. Please can someone help us we are desperate!
Submitted: 8 days ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  F E Smith replied 8 days ago.

Good morning. I will assist with your question - be aware this is an email not chat service therefore i maybe delayed in replying.

is the woman next door still living in premises?

did she give you any warning of this building work?

what exactly is being done?

Customer: replied 8 days ago.
Hi, thank you for replying. She is not living nextdoor. This wirk has been approved by the Council and they are currently knocking down walls which should last at least one more week. The noise is due to drilling and hammering and walls falling down.
Expert:  F E Smith replied 8 days ago.

There is no definitive answer to this but I will try to assist you


I will give some examples.

It is actually illegal to sound a car horn between the hours of 11:30 PM and 7 AM although the sounding of a car horn is not continuous. Even a beep between those prohibited hours is an offence.


At any other time, if it was sounded continually it then becomes nuisance.


The noise of jackhammers from next door comes into the same bracket. There is no statutory period however when it is illegal to make this kind of noise.

Under the circumstances, it is whatever is reasonable. There are several elements to this being reasonable.


How long it is going to continue for in the number of days/weeks

how long it continues for each day during that time

the hours that it happens during.


It is impossible to do some work without making some noise. It would not be unreasonable if they did not make continual noise say before 8 AM or after 8 PM.


However if the noise was continual between 8 AM and 8 PM that would be unreasonable.


Noise and vibration must be kept to a minimum by methods of work that conform with the ‘Code of Practice for Noise and Vibration Control on Construction and Open Sites’ (See BS 5228 Parts 2 and 4: 1997, and EC and UK Noise Legislation, as applicable).

At all times the best practicable means as defined in the act must be employed to reduce noise.



So really comes down to what is reasonable in the circumstances.

I think 9 PM is unreasonable. However I also think that from 9 AM until 9 PM continually every day is also unreasonable.


There are some exact figures:

Between 7AM and 7PM its 41dB,

between 7PM and 11PM its 37dB and

from 11PM to 7AM its 31dB ,


however it is a little more complicated than that as those figures are usually taken from within your home and need to be sustained at those levels for a period of time. Readings must be taken by someone who is qualified to do so

The equipment is expensive so leave it to the Envronmental Health dept at the Council.

30 - 40 dB is no louder than whispering but it needs to be continuous on an Environmental health officers equipment (i.e 1 second bursts of a car horn would not suffice (though this is still an offence after 11PM or before 7am in a built up area) but an uninterrupted bass line in music…boom, boom, boom, boom, would)


Ultimately, if you don’t want to bring court proceedings, you can raise the issue with the Environmental Health Department at the Council who can have a quiet word with them and tell them to keep it between certain hours or they can issue them with a noise abatement notice



This is the report on the Local Government Chronicle website. I can tell you that it’s not always possible to log into the site unless you pay a fee and it appears that some people and some browsers can and some cannot. I got in without a problem. If you can’t get in and it wants a fee, try a different browser.


You cannot be the neighbour or the builders with a blunt instrument and your only remedy is to take them to court which is probably going to be a bit of an impossibility join your current isolation.


The work may have been approved by the council but the noise hasn’t and therefore you need to impress with the council the situation and tell them that you want them to do something about it. It is the Environmental Health Department that you need to press.


If they won’t do anything about it, then make a complaint to the Local Government Ombudsman.


With regard to the workers being sent home, then welcome to the current market environment because millions of people are already in that situation.


Whether there will be locked down by the end of the day, heaven only knows but it seems highly likely in which case the work would finish by default. It remains to be seen.


Can I clarify anything else for you?


I am happy to answer any specific points arising from this.


Please take a moment to look at the top right-hand corner of the page and rate my service by clicking one of the stars at the top of the screen.


You may need to login again to use the rating service. Although it says "rate to finish" it doesn't close the thread and we can still exchange emails.


It's important that you use the rating service because that gives me credit.


It doesn't just give me a pat on the head! It's what gets me paid!!


There is also an experts incentive scheme whereby the more 5 star ratings I get I do actually get a pat on the head!


All you need to do is press Submit.


Thank you.


If you still need any points clarifying, I will still reply because the thread does not close.


Best wishes.




Customer: replied 6 days ago.
Please can you give us a call? The noise still persists and our daughter is still quite ill. We would like to make a claim if we have enough to open a case against these people.
Expert:  F E Smith replied 6 days ago.

There is an extra cost for a telephone call. I will submit premium services proposal for you.


I’m afraid that we are specifically not allowed to take instructions from here. So we could not act for you.

If the site were to be a source of potential clients, we would no longer be independent because we would have an interest in pursuing litigation. With no interest in pursuing litigation, we can be really objective with our view is to whether something has a good chance or a limited chance of success.


In any event, for logistical reasons you would be better using a local solicitor .

Customer: replied 6 days ago.
The Council just called us, we followed your advice and they will help us!!! I will honestly be happy to pay you the £44 as £5 is not enough for all your trouble and all that you helped us with your knowledge. Please feel free to collect the £44.
Expert:  F E Smith replied 6 days ago.

You can only do that as a bonus although I don’t how the bonus system works.

If you want me to speak on the telephone, we can do that and that we resolve the payment issue because that happens to be the cost of the telephone call. Happy to do that.

To be honest, with the current Pandemic I am amazed that building sites are still open.