How to be a Good Neighbour While Renovating

The hustle and bustle of getting your backyard landscaped, adding a second floor or renovating your basement can be exciting… and exhausting. Negotiating with contractors, displacing your belongings, not to mention the clean-up afterwards.

If you think renovating your home is a headache, consider what your neighbours may think!

When doing any type of work of on your home, it’s important to consider if and how it may affect your neighbours. With construction comes the prospect of excessive noise, dust and debris, and heavy vehicles crowding the street that can be an irritant or disruption to nearby residents.

  • Did you know? Renovations may affect your home insurance premium. It will all depend on if your renovations add value to your home, increase your liability (let’s say you’re adding a pool), or improve security – which may even mean you’re eligible for a discount. Before digging in, have a discussion with your insurance provider to ensure you have the coverage you need during the renovations, and a clear understanding of how your home insurance rates may change once your renovations are complete.

The easiest way to avoid any bad blood between neighbours is to simply notify them that work is being done. Before your home officially becomes a construction site, take the initiative to walk around the block and share your plans with the households you think will be most affected. Highlight who will be on the crew, what the job entails and how long it will take. Let them know in advance when parking, noise, or dust may be an issue so arrangements can be made. And inform them of the safety precautions that will be taken – especially if there are small children on the street.

No matter how big or small the project, there’s no way to predict exactly how your neighbours will be affected by construction on your home. Consider the following list to ensure you cover most, if not all, your bases.

Things to consider to be the best renovating neighbour you can be

Research the bylaws

In some cities, there are building bylaws, noise control bylaws, traffic and parking bylaws, and even tree protection bylaws. Before construction begins, do your research to ensure you’re complying by the rules. Professional contractors will likely be familiar with all local bylaws and requirements as well.

Changes to neighbouring homes

Are you placing a new window that overlooks your neighbour’s terrace? Or building an addition that blocks their access to sunlight? You never know how your home may physically affect your neighbour’s property and their privacy. Be as detailed as possible when sharing your plans to give them the opportunity to voice any concerns. See if you can find a solution that works for everyone.

Your building permit

Your building or demolition permit must be posted in a place that is easily visible from the street. A building permit is typically required if your renovations involve the complete construction or demolition of a building (or building addition), or material alteration of any building or structure. If you’re installing skylights or replacing your roof, you usually won’t need one. Visit your municipality’s website for more information on when and how to obtain a permit.

Noise and time

Follow municipal bylaws regarding noise and times of work. Most cities state that construction crews can only work between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. There may also be stipulations on working during weekends, or specified quiet hours in areas near hospitals and nursing homes.

Parking and traffic

Dump trucks, heavy machinery, and delivery vehicles on top of the vehicles of contractors and crew can often slow or even stop the flow of traffic in your neighbourhood. Try to keep roads clear during peak periods in the morning and late afternoon.

Fences or barriers

Assemble fences around the property to avoid going over property lines into another neighbour’s space. Some municipalities require you to obtain a "street occupation" permit if your dumpsters or construction bins extend beyond your property line. Barriers also prevent curious children from getting too close to construction hazards.

Toilets and facilities

Provide proper facilities for contractors. If using portable toilet units, make sure they are far away from neighbour’s homes.

Public lines (power, gas, etc.)

If your renovations require you to dig, make sure you and your contractor know where all the pipes, lines and cables are buried underground. It’s the law. To find out what’s buried on your property, request a "locate". If you live in Alberta, visit Alberta One-Call, in Ontario try Ontario One Call, or Info-Excavation if you live in Quebec.

Waste and water removal

Ensure trash bags and bins are available for contractors to throw out any garbage (food wrappers, paper coffee cups, etc.). In terms of removing building materials, the renovator should follow a proper waste and water removal process and keep the construction site clean to prevent health and safety hazards.

Renovations are temporary, neighbours are possibly for… a long time

When renovating your home, it’s best to forewarn your neighbours and be considerate of their property, safety, time, and any other concerns they may have. By taking the time to chat with them, you minimize the chance of a stop-work order being issued against you due to a complaint and possible fines from the municipality. Keep an open line of communication with your neighbours and the construction process will probably go a lot smoother. You’ll be improving neighbourhood morale, and who knows? You may even make some new friends.