How to renovate around testy neighbors
In most residential environments, permitting is required if you hope to structurally renovate or extend your property. The threshold for what is and isn’t acceptable can depend on where you live. If your particular location is protected against new builds, then adding a new wing to your house may be prohibited.
Internal renovations, however, won’t always need permits to take care of. Check your local housing authority to understand exactly what’s required in your case.
But it’s not only what the local housing authority says that counts. In some cases, planning permission requires the tacit approval of your neighbors. Most often this isn’t a problem. In some cases, however, like if you’re living in a condo or townhouse with shared walls, your neighbors can be highly testy, frustratingly nosy, and put off by renovations going on around them. In these circumstances, the idea of handling your neighbors may feel like more effort than rebuilding the house itself.
So – how can you deal with them in these circumstances? Let’s consider that, below:
Ultimately, it’s impossible to just extend or renovate your house without the neighbors knowing. So, for large renovations, it’s important to discuss your plans with them. You don’t have to go over every detail, but broad strokes can be enough. Neighbors may want to be sure that your construction doesn’t affect their view or come close to boundary lines between properties.
If they’re concerned about noise, which certainly could be a factor when units are in close proximity such as townhomes and condos, tell them when you aim to renovate, during work hours only. If they’re concerned about big trucks on the road, discuss how you’re going to open the side of your property for quick deliveries. This way, you can make certain to be as mindful as possible, while also staying on your renovation schedule. It also helps to tacitly remind them they’ll need your approval should they choose to renovate one day, which can also help get the message across.
When we were renovating the Southpointe condo, as well as the Atrium condo, we were working on upstairs units. The noise was definitely traveling down to the neighbors below as we worked on the floors. In order to make things as smooth as possible, we spoke with the neighbors before we started, told them of our plans to improve the unit, and invited them to come view it when it was done.
We also made sure to work only during business hours, when most neighbors were likely to be out of the house and at work. Talking to the neighbors went really for us in both of those cases, and at the Beach condo too. In all cases, we had neighbors over to view the results, and they loved the improvement to the community. In the case of the b, our neighbor Linda loved baking and would often bring over some banana nut muffins or other treats after long work days.
Be Mindful About Removing Debris
Some neighbors may be a little nosier than they should be, but if your property looks like a building site for many months, they may worry about how you aim to clear that up. It’s not an unreasonable consideration. That’s why getting ahead of it before they complain is important. When renting a dumpster, use it for your construction debris, and make sure to lock the shield on top to stop other neighbors from using it for their own purposes. Be sure to remove debris from the home so that others can’t complain about the impact of construction.
Timing your dumpster may also help. When we renovated the Eylewood home, which was a huge project, we planned the timing of the dumpster and coordinated that time to be demo days. This way we didn’t have a dumpster in front of the home for too long, which was good because the neighbors wouldn’t like the look of a dumpster there for long and every day a dumpster is there is a day neighbors may fill it with their items, costing us money and potentially requiring a second dumpster.
Have A Solid Timeline In Place
If you have planning permission, you may or may not have a set timeline by which you have to complete the renovation. In many cases, this will be a year or more if you’re working on a very large project. Yet if construction does stretch out for this long, you may attract the ire of nosy neighbors. That’s not to say that you should bend to their whims, only that not everyone wants to live next to a construction zone for longer than necessary. So, having a solid timeline in place with certain scheduling contingencies can help you smooth the process along, and prevent any needless disagreements with your neighbors.
Even if your reno has a much shorter timeline, ours usually take a month to 6 weeks, communication with the neighbors can really help things move along much more smoothly.
With this advice, you’ll be sure to renovate well despite testy neighbors; and you might even get some delicious banana nut muffins!