Renovation Etiquette

“No man is an island” or lives on one — especially when contractors are called into the neighborhood. So before you build an addition, replace your plumbing or reroof your house, remember that communication is key and keep these guidelines in mind:

– Don’t assume. While your neighbors might invite you to use their shower one evening, don’t show up with your shampoo and washcloth every morning before work.

– Do let the neighbors in on your plans. Construction vehicles will not make a pleasant backdrop for their son’s graduation party; nor will dust from building an addition be appreciated. Try to work around their important events as well as yours.

– Don’t let contractors’ vehicles block neighbors’ driveways, busy roads or rural mailboxes. This can be an inconvenience at any time of day but particularly when a neighbor is trying to leave for work or pick up a child at school.

– Do watch the clock. Even if local bylaws permit, chain saws are not the way most people want to be awakened on Saturday morning. And flood lights into the wee hours will not sit well with neighbors who have small children or who need to sleep at 10 p.m. Aim lights carefully and mask the sides of spotlights whenever possible.

– Do know your property line and the zoning codes. Don’t build that fence or put up that shed until you share your plan with your neighbor. Even if it is on your property and within codes, they will live with it as much as you. Better to get their buy-in beforehand.

– Do make sure all dumpsters arrive and are removed promptly and that your contractor cleans the area thoroughly. That includes “sweeping” with magnets for nails so you don’t create a tire hazard for others who live or park nearby.

– Do know what permits you need. When you and a contractor draw up a contract, you can specify that the contractor will get all permits and arrange for inspections on your behalf. Not only could a lack of permits slow completion, it can increase cost and frustration – for you and your neighbors.

– Do tell your contractor your house rules. Can they use your electricity, gas and water? When and where can they clean tools? How early can workers arrive and how late can they stay?

– Do identify and mind your personal space. If your bathrooms are off-limits to the contractors, make sure they bring in or have access to other facilities. While you need to make yourself available for questions, you can say that you are not to be disturbed in your home office or at certain times during the day.

Do inspect your renovations regularly to keep yourself informed at all times. This will help eliminate the risk of surprises or costly last minute changes to your project.

A little consideration and a lot of planning go a long way in keeping the peace – and keeping projects on schedule – when you renovate your home.

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