Please don’t be a bad neighbour

You’ve bought your Barbican flat because you like the Barbican, and you want to enjoy living here. We want you to be happy here too. Like most new residents, we are sure you won’t want to start off by making enemies of all your neighbours. Some thoughtless people do.

There is a big issue – NOISE!

Barbican blocks are concrete buildings. All building works are likely to be audible in other flats to some extent, and there may be short periods of loud noise. Of course we are all reasonable people, so we understand that. But jack-hammering into the concrete walls and ceilings is a totally different level of noise problem.

The noise is indescribable – far beyond the drilling required to attach new kitchen or bathroom units, which we grin and bear. The operatives have to wear special headphones to avoid damage to their hearing. Can you imagine what it’s like for the resident on the other side of the wall? It is not an issue of inconvenience; it is a serious issue of stress and damage to health.

And there is absolutely no need for it! There are many other alternatives if you want extra sockets. Dry lining a wall, with the cables in the air space behind the plasterboard – you lose an inch. Cables in surface-mounted metal tubing along the top of the skirting – in keeping with Brutalist sensibility. And anyway we should care about causing pain and suffering to our neighbours.

Channelling into walls is irreversible. It runs the risk of weakening the web of reinforced steel rebars which hold the concrete structure together, and that is dangerous to the building as a whole.

Unscrupulous builders might sell you on the idea of a lovely dropped ceiling with recessed lights and ceiling speakers, without mentioning that they intend to use jackhammers and drills for weeks on end to achieve it. This is because the walls and ceilings are concrete, and channelling cables into the walls is a very hard job – not like digging into plaster.

When this happens, your neighbours are literally driven out of their flats by the indescribable noise. This is made worse by the fact that builders sometimes do it completely haphazardly, without notice – almost as if they’re intending to inflict deliberate torture.

If you are the client, no one is going to understand that you had no intention of inflicting this on your future neighbours, it was all down to your builders, you couldn’t help it, you are appalled  … etc. etc. You will be glared at in the lift for years.

So, please do not give your builders a free rein to manage everything. Usually that means simply ignoring the pleas of distressed neighbours – or even issuing legal threats to distraught and vulnerable people – because some builders are often only concerned with their own business needs. Builders move onto other jobs. You’re left living with the consequences and resentments. Remember: It is your project. The builders are only your ‘servants’ in carrying it out. In law and, quite rightly, in the eyes of your neighbours, you are personally responsible for whatever is done to your neighbours in your name.

So please be considerate and thoughtful. Do not do works which require jack-hammering. Make sure any hammering work is grouped together to get it over quickly and only carried out during business hours.

Then your welcome when you move in should be like this …