A year ago, the contractor arrived on our street, right on Wied tal-Isperanza (Valley of Hope) in Mosta, to start tearing the building adjacent to ours bringing over trucks and high-ups, noisy equipment and a generator whose noise levels exceeded the allowed decibels (more on this later).

It has now been our year of experiencing hell on earth and the end is nowhere in sight but, hopefully, not that far away. In the meantime, we had to contend with water leaks. Our neighbours fared much worse: cracks in the walls and ceiling plaster and, above all, abuse from the contractor and his merry destruction gang.

The only welcoming breaks we get from the painful noise is when they open their thermos flasks and munch on their ftira biż-żejt. They used to start working at 6am (illegally, I am told, but who cares), gratefully just shuffling planks and dropping the odd brick. The jackhammers get into action not much later.

We found the Building Regulations Office to be another ineffective monster. If you are lucky to get through to them, you just get nowhere. (My dirty mind tells me they take the receiver off the hook. Who wants to hear more complaints?) When you hit the jackpot and manage to get through, you get to know they are understaffed and that there is construction going on in every street of Malta (their words not mine), those that work need to take days off from the stressful job they have and “grin and bear it, mate, as there is nothing we can do for you”.

That’s just about it. I’m reminded of that quote: “Laugh your heart out. Cherish the moment. Ignore the pain. Live, laugh, love, forgive and forget. Life’s too short to live with regret.”

Live, laugh, love, yes. But forgive and forget? How can we and, indeed, all those all over Malta and Gozo who are going through the same nightmare forgive and forget?

We found the Building Regulations Office to be another ineffective monster

We have considered renting an apartment somewhere else until the construction is over. However, not knowing how long it would take, it is almost impossible for us to make a deal on the monthly rental based on the duration of the lease.

When construction started in January last year, we had just returned from a three-month stay with our two daughters in Canada. And then it was noise, trucks, fumes, concrete mixers, high-ups, loss of parking spots sanctioned by the local council for a few euros every day, dust all over the place and much more. A full 12 months of it. Now we have just stopped counting. Those who are too familiar with this kind of thing, just raise their hands. I’m sure there are many. Ours is not a unique experience.

Earlier, I promised to come back to the use of the generator. For a whole first week this was placed on the pavement in front of the site and left on for hours on end including in the early afternoon hours. We tried reporting it to the Building Regulations Office but we did not get anywhere. Not even once did an inspector come to check the decibel levels.

When we managed to get through to them it was the week of the May 1 holiday that fell on a Tuesday. The excuses we got were unbelievable. We were told that a few employees had a bridge holiday and then there were only three days left so they could not do much. That was stretching it, no? The ‘much’ thing I mean.

The problem was that for weeks and weeks on end we had this generator blasting away in an empty building on the other side of our bedroom wall. And that’s between 7am and 5pm, if not later. Six days a week. Yes, they very graciously spared us Sundays. Forgive and forget? You must be kidding me!

Now we are enjoying the skills of the plumbers, electricians, tilers, plasterers and installers using their chasers, trenchers, hammers, drills and whatnot. Hopefully, we are not that far away from seeing the end of hell on our valley of hope.

This is a Times of Malta print opinion piece