Legal Question in Construction Law in Nebraska

Neighbors threatening suit because of constuction noise and dust

I am remodeling my house and replacing shakes with brick siding. This job was contracted prior to my neighbors moving in. The contractor works from 8:30 A.M. to 3:30 P.M. on the job. The prevailing winds generally blow most of the dust from cutting the bricks away from my neighbor's house. He uses a large fan to assist in blowing the dust away from their house.

The neighbor has recently had a heart transplant and his wife allegedly has asthma.

They plan to sue based on excess noise and dust from the cutting of the bricks causing them loss of sleep and health damages. I don't believe that I or my contractor have done anything wrong. I certainly don't know what we could do differently, short of terminating the project unfinished. I have tried to talk with them. I even offered to send them to a local hotel at my expense until the project was finished. Have we done anything wrong? Does he have the right to determine what remodelling I can do on my own property?

Asked on 10/15/07, 7:28 pm

1 Answer from Attorneys

Duke Drouillard Drouillard Law, LLC

Re: Neighbors threatening suit because of constuction noise and dust

You may not be doing anything wrong, but you have upset your neighbor which is rarely a good thing. I don't believe they have a viable case from the facts you have described. That doesn't mean they can't sue, it just means they are not likely to win. Most cases like this are brought as a "private nuisance" case. To win a case for private nuisance, there must be unreasonable use of your property at the expense of your neighbor's enjoyment of their property. You have certainly interfered with their peace and quiet enjoyment, but your use has not been unreasonable from the facts you describe. Your contractor may not trespass on their property, even for a moment, nor may he allow the dust from cutting bricks to enter their property, even minute amounts. The amount of noise from the brick saw may or may not be considered unreasonable. Your bricklayer could learn how to use a hammer and a brickset to avoid the use of the saw or reduce using the saw only to complex cuts. He won't like that suggestion much, but I was a bricklayer at one time; it can be done.

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Answered on 10/15/07, 9:26 pm

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