"You don't get to choose your neighbours." Many homeowners have likely heard that expression at some point in time before. While we don't have the ability to choose our neighbours, we do have the ability to try and keep the relationship at least cordial.
This is particularly important to remember when planning for a home renovation, which could be intrusive on the daily routine of your neighbours. If your renovation is to help make your house a long-term home for you and your family, chances are you are going to be living near these people for several years and extending an olive branch before a major home project could greatly help things in the future. As Publilius Syrus says, "It is folly to punish your neighbour by fire when you live next door."
Here are a few tips to help keep peace in the neighbourhood during your home renovation:
As soon as you have received the necessary approvals, inform your immediate neighbours of the work to be done. For a major project - demolition, extension or addition - notify all surrounding neighbours of the work. Make sure to bring plans with you so they have an understanding of what will be done.
Listen to them
Take time to listen to your neighbours' concerns and answer their questions. Ensure them that your design plans follow all local regulations and that you have obtained the necessary paperwork to support that. If you have all the appropriate permits from your municipality then your renovation is legal, which is important to tell your neighbours. But don't feel the need to let their own design preferences have sway on your plans. Just because they do not like the proposed exterior colour or materials does not mean you must change your plans to ease their concerns (unless, of course, you live in a designated historic district where these elements are essential to the neighbourhood).
Provide your neighbours with full disclosure on what will be taking place. Telling your neighbours that your renovation will only take three months and not keeping them apprised when it actually goes on for seven months will only garner you disgruntled neighbours. Be honest and let them know the time frame for completion and when any major components of the project will be occurring, such as demolition. Keep them apprised during the process of any changes or delays to the schedule.
Think of their needs
Be courteous to your neighbours and keep their needs in mind. Ask your contractors to mitigate inconveniences to the neighbourhood by not having work commence before eight a.m. and making sure construction vehicles and dumpsters do not block surrounding driveways. Take care of any debris that lands in a neighbour's yard.
Provide your contact information to neighbours and ask them to contact you directly with any concerns. This will allow you to address matters before they escalate and also helps keep you informed of any potential problems taking place while you are not there.
If there is damage to a neighbour's property as a result of your renovation, inform them immediately that this will be remedied and follow through on that promise as soon as possible. If you have hired a contractor for your renovation, before things get underway verify if their insurance policy covers damage to a neighbouring property as a result of renovation work.
Once the last of the dust has settled and you've got your home back, take the time to thank your neighbours for their patience. Consider giving a small token of appreciation, such as some baked goods or a gift card, as a gesture of thanks to those neighbours who were most inconvenienced by your project.
By Erin Kelly