Keeping neighbours on your side is a must for a successful renovation and it’s not just to make the world a better place. If you don’t keep neighbours happy they can cause delays and obstructions; at worst halt work on your project completely. So keeping the neighbours happy has a cost implication too.
How much you involve your neighbours depends on the amount of renovation you are doing, how many neighbours you have and how close they are. The right time to involve them also depends on a number of factors, whether or not you need planning permission, for example, and whether or not your works will change what they see when they look out of their windows.
Talk Through Major Changes Before Going to Planning
Assuming you’re doing a large renovation and you need planning permission, the smart thing is to go round and talk to the neighbours before putting the application in. Take designs and plans round because the one thing that’s guaranteed to put people’s backs up is if the first they hear of your plans is when a notice goes up outside the house.
Consider the changes you are making from the neighbours’ point of view and be ready to change your designs to take care of their objections. If you don’t do this, you’ll find that they’ll object at the planning stage anyway. Then you’ll incur a lot more expense, redrafting plans and designs and resubmitting planning applications.
If you think you are likely to come up against stiff opposition then take draft plans, or even drawings you’ve knocked up yourself, when you go to explain your designs to neighbours. You can then save the cost of proper architectural plans until you’ve obtained the neighbours’ approval.
Look After Dirt, Noise and Car Parking
Throughout the renovation process the key problems are dirt, noise and car parking. Find out if any of your neighbours work from home or work shifts and try to get your contractors to use the tools that make the most noise at times that won’t disturb them. If that’s impossible, try and arrange noisy work in parallel so that all the noise is over and done with as quickly as possible.
When it comes to dirt, just make sure you clean up as best you can at the end of each day so that neighbours don’t have to suffer when they come home after work. If it is very dry during the renovation work and you’re building an extension or working outside, dampen the ground periodically and at the end of the day. This will encourage dust and dirt to stay down rather than being sent up into the air as people work or vehicles pass.
Try and find out who parks their car where and keep their spaces and driveways clear as much as possible. When you’re expecting deliveries on large lorries, like bricks, building blocks, roof slates or roof trusses, make sure you go round the day before and let the neighbours know.
Don’t be a Neighbour from Hell
Don’t expect a major renovation to go ahead without any problems with the neighbours and you won’t be disappointed. But keep things in perspective, keep neighbours informed well ahead of any disruption and you should still be able to go round to borrow a cup of sugar once it’s all done.