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Can we stop builders of nearby development moving their crane over our property?

Property Clinic: It is unnerving how close the hoist gets to boundary wall and it prevents us from using our back garden

Behind our home, a property developer is building five large apartment blocks. They have three large cranes on-site to assist with construction. One of the crane’s jibs frequently moves over our back garden and house, along with other neighbours’ houses, several times a day. While they do not move any material outside the site (the hoist does not move over our property), it is unnerving how close the hoist gets to the boundary wall and it prevents us from using our back garden. We have contacted the developer and asked them to stop moving the jib over our property, to which they initially agreed but now disregard it entirely. As construction work is expected to last two years, we are wondering if we have any recourse to get them to stop moving it over our property? We have tried engaging with the local county council and TDs who have spoken with the developer but the developer continues to disregard the request.

The movement of crane jibs across adjoining property is frequently a contentious issue, especially on properties adjoining confined construction sites, writes Patrick Shine. Any intrusion into the airspace vertically above your property as defined by your boundary, is an encroachment. However, there is general acceptance that an encroachment issue may be actionable only if it is relatively low level, ie in lower-altitude airspace, and therefore interferes with your use and enjoyment of your property. No jurisdiction, to my knowledge, has defined or put an upper limit on lower-altitude airspace.

Crane jibs are considered to be in lower-altitude airspace. It is accepted that overflying objects such as aircraft and weather balloons are very much in upper-altitude airspace and, therefore, do not interfere with the use and enjoyment of property.

You state that one of the crane jibs moves over your and your neighbours’ houses several times a day. I suggest that you write to the developer and state that the encroachments are interfering with your use and enjoyment of your property. Refer to your previous engagement to which they initially agreed and subsequently disregarded, and demand that they cease immediately.


If your neighbours join with you in this action, you may have an increased chance of success. You should also try to keep a record of the general frequency of the encroachments and an estimate of their extent into your property. It is essential that you accurately record as much information as possible on these details as, based on the developer’s previous disregard for your request, it is likely that you will need to consult your solicitor.

You are also concerned about how close the hoist gets to the boundary wall as it prevents you from using your back garden. This activity does not constitute an encroachment on your property. The developer is entitled to carry out normal construction activities within the development site boundary.

However, if construction materials are being raised to a considerable height in proximity to your boundary, as may be the case in the construction of large apartment blocks, it is understandable that you are concerned and that you say it is unnerving. In writing to the developer, you should include these concerns.

If the developer does not respond positively, the information you have recorded, including your correspondence with the developer, will be useful to your solicitor who will then be in a better position to give you informed legal advice. They will be familiar with case history on such encroachments and will advise in relation to the proximity of the hoist under the law of private nuisance.

Issues of crane jibs oversailing adjoining properties are generally resolved by the property owners accepting a reasonable offer of compensation from the developer. In the event of litigation, the courts would try to balance the conflicting needs of the respective parties and may make a judgment that the payment of a reasonable level of compensation is a fair outcome. Your solicitor will advise accordingly.

Patrick Shine is a chartered geomatics surveyor, a chartered civil engineer and a member of the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland

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