The Block Handbook – construction noise and neighbours

The Block Handbook - Neighbours and Construction

Happy Neighbours  –  Happy Life

Getting a home renovation or new build completed is a tough job in itself. Still remaining friends with your neighbours? That can be a real challenge.

During this week’s episodes of The Block Triple Threat, contestants discovered this first-hand through confiscation of hand tools, late night neighbour confrontations and censures for excessive hammering.

Here are the SheBuilds tips to stay on track with your build and on speaking terms with your neighbours.


Forewarned is forearmed

Get to know your neighbours before starting a project.

It’s easier said than done nowadays, but a quick knock on the door along will go a long way and help you head off complaints. Bonus points for leaving them a print out of your plans and contact details.

It’s also a good idea to ask them if they would like to give you their mobile number or email address so you can text them when key events are happening.

This includes things like demolition day when concrete trucks or deliveries may block the roads, or if anything is going to affect essential services, like a power outage or period when water will be shut off locally.  These are generally required when running in new supplies to the site or if where a crane may be needed.

A great example of this is the Gantheaume Park build I’m about to start.  There are two schools at the end of the street, so our road is a major foot and vehicle thoroughfare at school pick-up and drop-off.

This means we’re warning the school about major events like demolition, asbestos removals, and when to expect the delivery of our concrete tilt panel walls.   All things that will affect busy mums and cranky bus drivers.


Want to learn more about my new home build?  You can follow my build here and along the way learn more about being a woman in charge of a building site.


Do unto others

During your initial reconnaissance of your neighbours suss out critical information:

  •  Do they have newborns or toddlers that sleep during the day?
  • Are they a hardworking nurses, hot firies (lucky you), or are a rule abiding police officer working night shift?
  • Is someone convalescing at home?

The key is to get an insight into how your build project will affect them. When you do this, you’ll be able to take all of this into consideration, and then you can let your tradies know so they can take it into account.

A respectful relationship is also more likely to help you rope them into being the site security when you are away; especially as they have your number and can easily report midnight mischief!


Respect Council rules

Not to sound like a narc, but respecting council rules is the right thing to do.

Councils will have a few rules which might create work restrictions for your building team, so you’ll need to factor this into your planning. These can include rules on noise pollution, so you might need to give your tradies a print-out of the hours they can work until.

To find out the rules about construction work time restrictions in your area, ring the service centre of your local council and ask to speak with the building department or the Rangers. Alternatively, check this link for information about local government in Australia.

The hours below are a general guide for Australians. Check with your local council for accuracy.

Monday to Friday: 7am – 5pm

Saturday: 9 am – 4pm

Sunday: no power tools or machinery, manual work only.

You might be surprised to learn that some basic activities – including those that don’t require power tools – may still trigger noise bans. These include:

  • Manual demolition work
  • Throwing things like roof sheets (not asbestos!) or tiles off the roof
  • The reversing beep of delivery trucks and their pneumatic lifting devices
  • The use of hammers
  • Use of crow or pinch bars to lift tiles etc as well as dumping building waste items into skip bins

Like I said, it’s better to do things by the book.

Council rules are enforced by the Rangers and a visit from them is kind of like having to go the headmasters office – but with fines.


Not just noise

If they’re living next to a construction site, your neighbours rightly will be concerned about a range of things; not just those that are noise-related. These include:

Dirt and debris.

Dusty work from demolition jobs, or using brick saws. ‘Ain’t nobody got time to rewash their washing!

Bad smells.

These can be less of an issue, but if you’re using anything that creates exhaust, such as a generator, a warning or an apology will go a long way. Nobody wants to smell your toilet’s plumbing.

Substandard work practices.

If you or your tradies are up on a roof in thongs or your tradies or you tip waste into the street or drains, be prepared for a visit from Work Safe or the EPA.


I’m about to put these principles into practice over on my Gantheume Park build.  Want to follow my build?

Read up on my amazing (and eventful) project here for a warts and all report from the home reno trenches.  I’ll keep you posted on whether I get an invite to next year’s neighbourhood BBQ or not 😉


If you’ve completed your renovation or new build, well done! That’s a feat in and of itself.

However, the true test is extending an invitation to your neighbours to come for a quick celebration to mark the end of the build.

This will test whether your relationships have survived the build process, after all you can choose your friends but you can’t choose your neighbours.

And the truth is: they’ve been dying to have a good nose around!


For more advice on getting to the end of a build project or home renovation in one piece, why not join the SheBuilds community on Facebook.

It’s a safe space and supportive place to share your horror neighbour stories, or just to vent about your tradies.


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About Suzanne Commerford

Suzanne has stepped out from behind the desk of Australia's largest home inspection business to build the skills, confidence and independence of women to tackle maintenance and home improvement projects around the home.

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