There are many things to think about when taking on a home renovation. From budgets to timelines to materials, the process can be so overwhelming that you might even start to question your sanity. Still, if you want to make it through to the other side of reno bliss, it’s also important that you look outside your property – and consider your neighbours. Renos are stressful enough without factoring neighbour drama into the mix, so consider these tips for keeping the whole block happy.
Brian McCourt is a contractor, design expert and co-host of HGTV Canada’s Backyard Builds.
Start With a Positive Mindset
If you want to keep the peace, having with the right mindset can go a long way. If you anticipate disputes with your neighbours from the beginning, you’re more likely to act in a defensive way – and you can bring on the exact kind of tension that you’re trying to avoid. In every interaction, be as respectful as possible and consider their perspective.
Give Advance Notice
Keeping that courteous attitude in mind, be sure to let your neighbours know that you’ll be renovating well in advance. Whether you have a chat over the back fence, send a note or give them a call, a little bit of proactive information can go a long way. Be sure to fill them in on what part of your home you’ll be renovating and what the plan is. If people are expecting a bit of inconvenience, they’ll be a lot more patient when it comes their way.
Don’t Be Shady
It should go without saying that it’s never a good idea to try to sneak home remodels by your neighbours – but it happens. Going to the opposite side of the spectrum to try to hide your renos from your neighbour (especially if it’s because you’re trying to bend the rules or avoid getting the appropriate permits) is a big mistake that can backfire.
Provide a Timeline
It’s much easier for your street-mates to deal with the hassle of your renovations if they know when the madness will end. Always give your neighbours a rough timeline when you let them know you’re doing renovation work. Be sure to err on the side of longer than expected, so they aren’t annoyed if you take a little more time than you thought. Before you start, consider these tips for creating a realistic renovation timeline and budget.
Share Your Contact Info
Give your neighbours phone numbers and email addresses for where they can reach you, should any issues come up. This is an especially important step if you have workers taking care of renovations when you’re not home.
Watch the Clock
Just as you wouldn’t love to hear a raging party all night long when you’re trying to sleep, your neighbours don’t want to hear banging, sawing or other reno-related noises at all hours. Know your municipality’s noise bylaw rules for what hours you’re allowed to do construction – and stick to them.
Turn Down the Volume
Of course, there are some sounds that are unavoidable when you’re taking on renovations. Be considerate and try to avoid doing the loudest activities the minute the clock strikes allowable construction times.
Know the (Property) Line
I’m obviously a big fan of making your backyard the best it can be, but it’s important that you know where your yard begins (and ends) if you want to avoid ticking off the neighhours with outdoor renos or additions. Double check exactly where your property lines are before taking on any projects.
Go by the Book
By playing by the rules – aka. complying with your zoning bylaws and having all the necessary permits – you’re much less likely to break any rules and annoy your neighbours. And, if they are a bit irritated, at least you won’t add fuel to their complaints by having broken any rules.
Keep Things Clean
Debris and dust go hand-in-hand with home renovations, but they can also be a big grievance for neighbours if they aren’t dealt with properly. Whether you’re doing renos yourself or you’ve hired a contractor, make it your responsibility to ensure that there’s a proper plan for waste removal.
If your renovations impact your neighbour’s property in any way (even if it’s just a flurry of dust that reaches their exterior windows), take responsibility for returning their home to its previous condition and clean up your own mess. After all, you would expect the same from them.
Even the most patient neighbours will lose their cool quickly if they discover that there’s nowhere for them to park in front of their own home. If street parking is an issue, come up with a parking plan for any workers coming for renovations so that you don’t inconvenience your neighbours.
Hire Professionals When Necessary
If you’re thinking of making major renos a DIY project – but you don’t have a lot of experience – you might want to consider hiring a professional. Professionals should be able to take care of renos more quickly, which will be a big win for your neighbours in the long run.
Don’t Let Things Fester
If – despite your best efforts – your neighbours are impacted by your renovations and they aren’t happy about it, deal with it right away. Hiding from the situation or avoiding their concerns will only make things worse.
Renovations can be super stressful, so it’s understandable if your fuse is running short. However, if you want to enjoy your newly renovated home, you don’t want your neighbours to be your enemies when they’re finished. Be kind, be courteous and don’t forget to thank them for their patience when it’s all over (a nice thank-you card or some home-baked treats from your newly renovated kitchen probably won’t hurt!).