I was out in my front yard this past week…rearranging my dirt so that I could plant the weeping cherry tree that I was ridiculously excited to add to my yard. Several neighbors, bravely walking in the rain, walked by and talked to me about my project. They commented on the amount of work, how pretty it would look, and on the mud pit that my front yard had become. I began thinking, how does my home improvement affect my neighbor and how do I get their cooperation with it? Talking to and getting cooperation from your neighbor is vital to having a successful home improvement project, whether you hire a contractor or not.
Good Neighbor Communications
If you are planning a remodel that could affect your neighbors, you should at the very least communicate with them. For instance, I asked my next door neighbor taking down the fence between our yards since they had a dog. I asked my other next door neighbor before trimming his tree that hangs over my property.
I have had a note on my door before a neighbor trimmed the tree that lives on my property. These are all acceptable forms of communication. Most people just want a notice that something is going on.
The other part of this is to remember that, even contractors can affect your neighbors. Choose a contractor that will be considerate of your neighbor as well as you. People frequently tell me at the hardware store that a contractor working on their neighbor’s house damaged theirs. There has been a piece of yard equipment through a window, a nail in a tire, and complaints about parking while the contractors are working. If your work will affect your neighbor’s day to day lives, it goes better if you warn them first.
Have A Plan
You should be able to tell your neighbors what to expect before the work starts. Use a planner like the kitchen remodel planner listed below, which is free by the way, as an example. How many days will they be seeing work? Should they expect to have their traffic patterns rerouted or their parking changed?
My neighbor put in natural gas which closed our street to through traffic for a few days. If your contractor hasn’t communicated a timeline and expectations, they should be capable of giving you that when asked. I make sure all my contractors include clean up in their bid and they’ve all done a stunning job.
A major part of making sure that your remodel goes well is making sure that you have your permits prepared. Most people don’t know that permits can take a long time to get approved before you can even start work. If you are working with a contractor, this should be included in their price.
Good Neighbor Rights and Responsibilities
If you are going to be really fully prepared you should know your rights and your neighbor’s rights when it comes to disputes. For instance, most cities have noise ordinances that require you to be quiet at certain times. While this isn’t a common issue when remodeling, there are other ordinances that could be cause for concern.
You may not be able to do the remodel like you want because of your city’s bylaws. You also need to consider your HOA rules if you live in one. Homeadvisor.com has a great article on some basic rules to follow so that, even outside of an HOA, you can know your basic rights and responsibilities.
If all else goes wrong, it is important to know how you or your neighbor make a complaint and how that complaint is handled. You should know how your neighbors file a complaint and what is required so that you can be prepared. You also need to know what you are required to respond with. Some cities require that you go to court while many use mediators to hear both sides out of court. Knowing the complaint process will make any complaints go smoothly for you and your neighbors.
When doing home improvement that may affect your neighbors, it’s all about getting yourself prepared and knowledgeable. You need to be able to tell your neighbor ahead of time what to expect. You need to be able to deal with situations as they arise if anything does change or go wrong. Home improvement is good for a neighborhood and neighbors usually enjoy watching them occur so enjoy yourself, get outside, and meet your neighbors over a pile of mud!