Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Consider Your Neighbors During a Renovation


Will your renovation affect your neighbors? 


Stories abound of neighbors complaining about a renovation infringing on their quality of life or home values. Or both.



A recent article in The New York Times outlined problems New York homeowners are having with their neighbors while renovating their homes. Neighbors complained about noise, trash and damage, some even going so far as to say their property values have been affected.

The truth of the matter is that these are issues afflicting homeowners in the midst of renovations everywhere. Here’s a sampling of some high-profile renovations that have made headlines:

In Cupertino, Calif., neighbors complained to city officials over a family’s plan to add three bedrooms and two bathrooms. The main point of contention was that the renovation meant adding a second floor in a neighborhood with mostly single story homes.

A homeowner in Prairieville, La. has raised suspicions among neighbors concerned about his ability to complete renovation on a property that was moved to their neighborhood after being split in half. Unsightly canvas covers the gaping parts of the home, which has sat in its current location for about a year.

Last year, presidential candidate Mitt Romney came under fire for his plans to  nearly quadruple the size of his $12 million home in La Jolla, Calif. Neighbors were angry about his plans to convert his three-bedroom, 3,000-square-foot home into an 11,000-square-foot mansion complete with a four-car, split-level garage featuring an elevator to move cars between levels.

Some of these may seem like extreme examples, but you may want to keep in mind that neighbors’ riffs are often triggered by even seemingly minor issues such as barking dogs. Just imagine the kind of problems that could result during a typical renovation and all its ensuing disturbances.

Will your renovation affect your relationship with your neighbors?

Are you wondering whether your renovation will anger your neighbors? There are steps you can take to avoid a confrontation. Contractors and those who’ve gone through extensive renovations offer the following words of wisdom:

Think through how your renovation could affect neighbors. For example, are you making structural changes that could affect neighbor’s views? This is a huge deal to most people. In the 2006 movie “Friends With Money,” two of the main characters end up getting a divorce after their home renovation featuring a new second floor turns all their neighbors against them, a drama that exposes wide rifts in the couple’s marriage.



Make sure you get all the necessary permits. Be aware that, as part of the permit process, you may be required to gather signatures of approval from your neighbors. This step is important to make sure your improvements are legal and remain unchallenged.

Talk to your neighbors. Keeping open the lines of communication can go a long way. Knowing they’re in the loop will help prevent neighbors from becoming distrustful and wary of your project. For starters, details abut when trucks and construction crews may be parking in the neighborhood will help ensure good relations.

Listen to any concerns and try to deal with them responsibly and in a timely fashion. If your neighbors see you making an effort to take their feelings and needs into consideration, they may be more inclined to turn a blind eye toward any parking inconveniences, noise, trash and other disturbances.  

Any steps you take can only help your project run as smoothly as possible. If all goes well, you could consider hosting a block party as a way to thank your neighbors for their patience when the renovation is complete.

Photo credits: Wonderlane, grongar

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