A distinction needs to be made between noise from construction sites and noise from DIY activities in the home. The working hours imposed on building sites would not normally be applicable to home DIY jobs. This is because people can often only undertake DIY work in the evenings and at weekends. However, this does not give people permission to annoy neighbours at all hours of the day and night! We all have to be reasonable to live together.
Disturbance from DIY building and decorating can be minimised by keeping noisy activities to reasonable hours and by thinking about what type of activity you are doing. We define "noisy activities" as:
- Hand Tools - Use of hammers, saws etc.
- Power Tools - Normal hand-held tools power tools (drills, saws, sanders, etc) can cause a lot of noise.
- Plant - People can now hire more "professional" tools and plant such as pneumatic hammers, cement mixers, large power saws and planers, compressors and generators, etc. Use of this more powerful type of equipment needs greater consideration. It is the same as used by professional builders and can be very noisy.
- Walls and Floors - Some work on the wall or floor between properties can give surprising levels of noise. Work such as wallpaper stripping or wall preparation can sound very loud next door. Work on the floor, such as plumbing, rewiring and especially sanding, can be very loud downstairs.
Sensible precautions can be taken to minimise complaints from neighbours. If you are undertaking DIY activities that are likely to generate some noise the following advice may be helpful:
- Information to your neighbours - It would be helpful if you could give your neighbours an indication of what work is being done and how long the works will last. They will then have a better idea of how much noise they have to put up with. Often, it is the uncertainty about the noise which worries people the most - they will be much happier if they know what is going on and have an end in sight.
- Have regard to your neighbour's circumstances. Do they have young children who go to bed early during the week? If so, negotiate to work longer during the weekend so as to minimise disturbance.
- Have you got the right equipment? - Sometimes, more powerful equipment will actually help solve the noise problem. There is nothing worse than using an old piece of equipment which cannot cope with the job. It makes far more noise, and the job will often take much longer, than if you had the correct piece of equipment.
- Maintenance of Equipment - Please make sure your equipment is well-maintained. Proper maintenance will reduce noise and increase your safety.
- Music - It seems most people want the radio or stereo system on when they are doing DIY - it eases the burden! Please keep the volume down.
- Doors and Windows - If possible (allowing for dust and fumes), please try to keep doors and windows closed, as neighbours have just as much right for peace and quiet in their gardens.
- Emergency Working - Serious problems such as water leaks, electrical faults or missing roof tiles can mean people have to make noise at unsocial hours. We accept this. However, we would ask you to think very carefully before you do so. Is there another way to solve the problem? For example, could the water not simply be turned off and the leak repaired the next day? If you have to work at unsocial hours, tell your neighbours why. Hopefully, they will understand.
- Of course, there is nothing to stop you doing the quieter activities, for example painting, what ever the time, as long as you do not make noise which affects your neighbours.
Complaints to the Environmental Protection Team can be made about noise from DIY work. Initially they will attempt to negotiate a mutually acceptable agreement informally between neighbours. Where work is being carried out unreasonably the Council can use its noise nuisance powers to minimise (but not stop) disturbance.