Noise disturbance from a new Dormer

10 Aug 2022
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United Kingdom
Hi all, firstly let me say "hello" as I am new in to this forum!

As to why I have come along, I am trying to find out where I stand regards noise pollution from a new Dormer, which has been built onto a detached bungalow that sits at the bottom of my back garden (in the UK if thats relevant).

When this Dormer was built a bathroom extractor fan was installed, which points directly at my property and is about 15 metres away. When its left on during the night, I cannot sleep due to the constant disturbance it provides. It appears to be in good working order, but is continually there. I feel aware that its "just a fan" and that in some ways this is a "me" thing; unfortunately however living in an area where you can hear a pin drop at night its all you can hear.

I have no idea where I stand legally on this. When I moved here, the Dormer was not there, and now is - I don't give a monkeys about that in itself, but the constant noise I am finding difficult! Can anyone please advise if the building regs or anything else cover external noise, or am I stuck with it? All i've been able to find are regs covering internal noise if the bungalow had happened to be a semi, and the Dormer looks within regs on all its other design aspects.

I have not yet approached the owners about the issue due to the fact that I don't know where I legally stand; I currently have neutral relations with the owners and don't want to inadvertently start up bad ones so am trying to get my facts straight first. Is anyone able to provide any advice on this?
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Legally your options are to claim public or private nuisance.

Public, aka Statutory Nuisance would be dealt with for free by your council under environmental law. However, I doubt this would be classed as a nuisance under their powers

That leaves an expensive private nuisance claim in the civil court. And I also doubt that would be successful to prove.

There is no recourse via building regulations.
Tell them that they're forgetting the fan on at night and paying for electricity they don't use.
Maybe they haven't realised.
When we had small kids I installed a fan isolator to the bathroom and turned it off at night because inevitably they would leave the light on.
I think you are going to struggle to show that the exhaust from a standard bathroom extractor 15m away causes a sleep nuisance inside your bedroom, unless the fan is faulty - is it possible the fan impeller is touching something? - these fans are very quiet e.g. - 22dbA @ 3m is incredibly quiet.

Personally I think you have to live with it. I also think you will stop noticing it after a while anyway.
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I just wanted to check that it was definitely a bathroom extraction fan and not an ASHP!
Can you plant a tree in front of it to deaden the noise?
Or there are I think negative noise devices, which you tune in to a particular frequency and cancel out the sound.
Evening all, thank you for the responses! I think really you have confirmed my suspicions on this one, which is helpful in itself. I agree that they won't realise yet, definitely a bathroom fan and not an ASHP, and sadly no room for a Conifer on that line of sight without removing the Conservatory.
Negative noise devices are a new concept to me, will check those out. Blackout curtains are also coming to mind as theres no complication here of vibration through brick / timber.
If I was in your position (and others will disagree!), I may approach the neighbours and offer to investigate/replace the fan.

For your piece of mind, the cost of a new fan would be worth it, compared to winding yourself up, having sleepless nights and feeling embittered towards neighbours who haven't a clue how you feel.

If they were decent neighbours, after hearing your story, they may do something themselves - but explaining that you are willing to do something about it, shows them your intent and how much it means to you.

....but this might just be me living in my fantasy world, where everyone gets along! :)
You could ask them to fit a cowl with back draught shutter, it might reduce the noise over flap vent.

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