I'm currently a neighbor trying to stay sane through the dust, noise, and toxic fumes coming from next door. Having recently finished renovating a house of my own, I also know how it feels to be the one causing the headaches. But unless you plan on moving out for the duration, there's not much of an alternative than to just make the best of it.
Here are a few tips to make sure your neighbors are still neighborly when you throw your housewarming party.
- Let your neighbors know well in advance of your planned renovation. Face it, there's no need to start off on the wrong foot with the people you may live adjacent to for years to come. Inform them of the scope of your project, the expected time frame, and contact information in case they run into a problem and need to reach you or your contractor.
- Get a feel for your neighbor's schedule and take that into consideration when setting a work schedule with your contractor. Remember that some people work at night, work at home, or have small children, so try to put yourself in your neighbor's shoes. Tell your neighbors about the hours you've set with your contractor, that way if the rules aren't followed - especially if you're not living in the home during the renovation - your neighbors can inform you. If you decide to have work done during evening hours, only do so after your neighbors have given you the go-ahead. And the closer the proximity to your neighbors, say an apartment building or rowhome for example, the more considerate you should be.
- Bring a peace offering. This is great to do before construction even begins, but it also might be a nice touch after any particularly arduous part of the project is complete - especially if you know it was an inconvenience to your neighbor. A basket of baked goods or bottle of wine can go a long way.
- Be clear with your contractor of any restrictions, but remember that regardless of their actions, it is the homeowners ultimate responsibility to rectify the situation. If workers get paint scrapings all over your neighbor's property, at least offer to sweep up the mess at the end of the day. Realize that while you might come home to find your home and area clean of debris, chances are, workers aren't going to clean up your neighbor's property.
- If you live in an area with street parking, be mindful of where the extra work vehicles or dumpsters are going to be parked. Nobody wants to look out their front window and see a dumpster blocking their view.
- Check-in with your neighbors throughout the process. This will allow you to make amends if need be, before they have months to stew over something you weren't even aware occurred. It will also give you a chance to keep them updated on how things are progressing and if you are on track with the project's timeline.
- After the renovation is finished, invite them over to dinner or for a party. This will give you an opportunity to show them the finished project as well as toast them for their patience.
- Of course every so often, regardless of how considerate you've been, there's going to be the case of a difficult neighbor that you can never please. As long as you know you made a reasonable effort, you might just have to accept the relationship for what it is. But it never hurts to extend the olive branch again when you have the opportunity.
And a word of cautionary advice to those neighbors that are ready to complain at the drop of a hat. You never know when the shoe might be on the other foot, and you're the one asking everyone to be cooperative. If you made it hell for your neighbors, they'll likely repay the favor.
I know many readers have gone through this process, so feel free to weigh in or add your own suggestions.
(Image: Kimberly Watson)