One of the banes of living in Hong Kong is flat or building refurbishment. As I write this, some hard working person is hammering the floor in the room directly above mine. This is a relief from the drilling that has been going on for the last three months – drilling so loud that I could not even hear the TV at maximum volume. There is no escape and no legal way of stopping anyone who wishes to refurbish. They are protected by law. The workers can drill, hammer, sand and saw from 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM, except on Sundays, and there is nothing I can do about it.
Even worse is living through a building refurbishment. The workers remove the original facing with huge gouging machines at a noise volume that drove us out of our previous flat for weeks. Not only is there noise but also workers, on the bamboo scaffolding, peering in windows, no matter the floor. When we endured this, we also had to fear thieves who scale the scaffolding and enter flats from the balcony. They arrested two of them when our building was refurbished 4 years ago.
My advice is to insure there is no building refurbishments planned before you rent or buy a flat. You can check if there are flat refurbishments planned near you but even the noise of work going on anywhere in the building will intrude on your peace and quiet and often the leasing agents will not know about or will hide planned refurbishments.
Leasing in a brand new building offers no protection because new owners often add to and/or change their flat’s configuration. I think I hate this aspect of living in Hong Kong more than anything I’ve encountered.