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Keeping Happy Neighbors When Remodeling...Advice from Hometime's Dean Johnson

Once you've made the decision to remodel, there are certain measures you can take to help make the process easier on you and your family. Obviously, it's always a good idea to keep a positive relationship with your contractor. This will help your project run more smoothly by keeping communication open and friendly. The next—and perhaps most important—relationship to maintain is that of your neighbors. Being a nuisance to those around you can cause a good deal of tension. That is why taking time to nurture the relationships with those living next door is crucial—screw this one up and it could make your life miserable for years to come.

The first thing you'll want to do is let your neighbors in on what you will be doing, how long you expect it to take, and, most important, who they can contact if they have any problems or concerns.

Invite your neighbors to stop by and check on the progress. Houses in any given neighborhood have similarities. Your neighbors' houses may have the same space and layout problems as yours, and they're going to be curious about how you're fixing these problems. An added bonus? They may take pity on you when they see what you're living through and invite you over for a hot dinner or to use the shower.

As the project progresses, there are several things you can do that will lessen its impact on the neighbors.

  • Ask subs to park on one side of the street only and to disperse their cars and trucks.

  • Limit the noise of power tools to standard business hours. If you must work nights and weekends, be considerate: be quiet in the early morning and late evening.

  • Make sure the radio—whether yours or the subs'—can't ever be heard beyond the property line. Same thing goes for rowdy conversations.

  • Have materials dropped in the driveway or yard, not the street. This is particularly important for dirt, gravel, and the like that can get washed into the street during a hard rain or tossed around by kids playing in the pile.

  • Playing off that last point, avoid creating attractive nuisances. Keep an eye out for kids and firmly discourage them from playing in your work site.

  • Dumpsters are an eyesore. Have dumpsters removed as soon as they are full and only keep them around when they are truly needed. To earn good neighbor points, if there's any room left in your last dumpster, invite the neighbors to dump any scrap construction materials that have accumulated in their garages before you have the dumpster removed.

  • Keep the yard cleaned up and as normal looking as possible. Keep an eye out for any trash that may have blown into neighbors' yards. Roofing materials are notorious for ending up in the neighbor's shrubs.

  • Call the local one-call service to locate underground utilities before you dig. Besides the obvious fact that this could save your life, it'll keep you from severing your neighbor's power or cable lines.

Finally, when the project is done it's always fun to throw a party for the neighbors to thank them for their patience and understanding!


Reprinted with permission of Hometime®. For further information about remodeling and renovation, tune in to Hometime or visit © Hometime 2003, all rights reserved.