I called the council about the level of noise from the site. I was trying to determine what was acceptable. The Brentwood Council website wasn't specific and referred viewers to the World Health Organisation. Their website hadn't been helpful so I called the Council to speak to Environmental Health. They weren't sure it was them and thought it might be Building Control. They made a note to call me but passed me to Building Control in the meantime.
The conversation with Building Control was interesting. They advised that the noise question definitely had nothing to do with them so I asked about the vibrations I could feel whilst in my house which I presumed were the result of a pile driver. We discussed distances between properties, the fact that we hadn't entered into a party wall agreement and the person I was speaking to thought we might be OK and avoid damage to our house and it's virtually non-existent foundations.
I was then asked whether I had paid for a full structural survey. I explained we had, but this was before we moved in, in 1999. I was advised that if we were to make a claim we would need to prove that any damage had been caused by the construction work which would mean a report paid for, in advance, just in case. "So, because my neighbours are demolishing a nice house and building an overbearing monster to make a quick buck, I need to spend lots of money I don't have on a full structural survey." I asked. The answer was a tentative "Yes." I think he could smell my indignation.
He then advised that the next best thing to do was to have a series of photographs taken before the development. So on Sunday, it being cheaper than a full structural survey, I took pictures of the outside of the house and we'll add to those this weekend with pictures of the interior. He told me to add a current newspaper into each photograph to prove they were taken before the development. This blog, when combined with the image meta data should be sufficient. I was told meta data can be altered which is why the newspaper is a good idea. I thought "Images can be Photoshopped too" but decided a blog post would serve as a pretty good date stamp.
Later in the day there was a message on the voicemail. Instead of just calling me back it transpired that someone in Environmental Health had popped around next door. Apparently they had been using pile drivers for core samples. It seems there is no advice on how noisy a building site has to be. Providing they operate within normal working hours they could be using explosives and that would be OK. Hmmmm.