Often, the first time a neighbour realises that a renovation project is about to start next door is when they hear the demolition work commencing. There are steps you can take, however, to renovate and still remain on good terms with your neighbours at the end of it all.
Knock on your neighbour’s door before you start and let them know you will be renovating. If you haven’t met your neighbours before, this is a great time to introduce yourself.
If you can’t catch them at home, drop a friendly note in their letterbox. Most people are more receptive to any idea if they know and understand what is going on.
The minute you have more than one tradie on site, parking issues will normally surface. Nothing will get you offside with neighbours faster than damaging their garden, running over their reticulation or blocking access to their property. The last thing you want is for a neighbour to become a self-appointed parking inspector.
When this happens, they will hassle everyone that turns up and/or constantly report vehicles to the local authorities. Avoiding this is simple; let your tradies know where they are permitted to legally park before they come on site. Draw them a map if you need to.
When you meet with your neighbours, take the time to find out about them. Do they have a child that takes a nap every day? Are they shift workers? Do they have a pet that will run away if there is a gap in the fence?
Where possible, consider their needs. For example, if you know that there will be an unavoidable amount of noise on demolition day, knock on their door and let them know a couple of days in advance.
This gives them the opportunity to go out for the day or make other plans instead of enduring the frustration of not being about to get a child to sleep due to the disruption.
Unfortunately, disputes over fences are commonplace in Australia. Before removing or changing a fence, always have a chat with your neighbours first. Making changes without consultation is a fast track to confrontation and ongoing neighbour wars.
Disputes typically occur where one home owner wants to install a more expensive solution than the other, or when a neighbour flat-out refuses to contribute to the cost of fixing or replacing a fence. Where possible, always look for a compromise.
For example, if you are looking to replace an old rickety picket fence with an expensive limestone wall, it is probably not realistic to expect your neighbour to be able to afford a large and unbudgeted expense at short notice.
A compromise is to ask the neighbour for a contribution equivalent to half the cost of a more modest solution and you will have to bear the additional cost. Alternatively, look for a solution you can both afford.
It is no secret that noise from building works is one of the most common complaints to local councils. Councils can enforce rules about start and finish times for construction work and the use of noisy power tools on weekends. Non-compliance can result in fines for the home owner.
Noise problems are not only related to the construction work. Often, tradies working outdoors will have a radio blaring all day. This can be super annoying for your neighbours day-in day-out and for hours on end. Most tradies are blissfully unaware of how annoying this can be, and if you simply ask them to turn it down, they will happily do so.
Respect can take many forms. We all have the right to live in our home in privacy and expect others to respect our right to do so. With a little forethought, you can renovate while being sensitive to your neighbour’s home and lifestyle and avoid creating a strained relationship.
Living in harmony is a much more pleasant way to live than exchanging snarls over the fence.