Process Guides / By Kerry O'Brien / October 30, 2016
Good Neighbors: How to Give Fellow Residents a Heads Up on Your Renovation Plans
With renovations on the rise in New York City, homeowners are putting more money and time into projects ranging from upgrades to whole apartment remodels. They not only need to manage scheduling changes in their own daily lives but being cognizant of how it will affect their neighbors is vital in maintaining a good relationship with those around them.
There are many ways to approach this often-overlooked step in renovation etiquette, depending on the tone or the association you already have with those in your building. Here’s a letter I sent to my building’s upstairs, downstairs, and same-floor neighbors before re-doing the floors in my mini East Village apartment with a few thoughts on why it worked to preserve peace in my little corner of the building:
My letter is a good bit longer and more conversational than it may need to be. It’s possible that I was over-eager, but I was genuinely concerned about how my neighbors might be affected by the noise and the presence of workers. I had met some of my neighbors in passing but others were total strangers, so I took a formal, professional approach to outlining the dates of the work and assuring residents that I had chosen a reputable contractor.
I went further and wrote about the specifics of my project, why I was doing the work, acknowledge that there might be some unknowns on timing, and issue a friendly open invitation to future neighborly get-togethers. In short, I knew that the noise and dust might be a headache for next-door neighbors and I tried to demonstrate that I had gone out of my way to be considerate about the plan.
A three-day flooring project is not the worst thing that can happen in the apartment next to you, but I found that neighbors were generally understanding and reasonable about the disruption, and enjoyed swinging by after the work was done to see the new floors and say hello.
If you’re planning your own home upgrades, post your project on Sweeten and feel free to use my letter as a starting point to keep your neighbors in the know!