Neighborly Worries: Construction’s Impact
July 10, 2013
A home renovation is, of course, a huge undertaking for the structure that is being renovated as well as for the people who live in it. Disruptions such as debris, a lack of ability to use certain rooms, and noise are all of concern when one’s home is being renovated.
However, these issues are not exclusive to the building where the actual renovation is occurring. Particularly in highly populated areas like New York City, construction in one residence has the potential to disrupt the lives of many people who don’t necessarily live in the residence itself. Noise, dust, and debris disruption has long been an issue for New York City residents whose neighbors decide to take on some home improvement. Unfortunately, as you dig deeper, the issues can get even more harrowing.
One of the underlying issues that faces neighbors of someone doing a deep renovation is that as contractors dig deep into the foundation of a home, it can actually cause the foundation in a separate home to settle. When a foundation settles, floors can slope and doors might no longer meet their frames the way they are supposed to. Obviously, this is a big issue.
When construction is handled properly, the above is not of concern. It’s when your neighbor is working with someone who is less than savory that issues may start to arise (or sink).
So, how can you protect yourself when you see a contractor’s vehicle start to make frequent stops at the house next door? First and foremost, you have to know your property and your property lines. If this means getting a new survey of the boundaries of your property, it’s in your best interest to do so. Depending on how close your home is to the home next door, the contractors may need access to your yard or even your roof. It’s important to establish early on what you plan to consent to and at what times of day you’re available to facilitate such use of your property.
Making sure to fully document the state of your property before, during, and after your neighbor’s construction is of utmost importance when it comes to protecting your property and getting compensation should anything go wrong. Any crack, blemish, or spill that could occur can be denied by the contractor just as easily as you can blame him or her for doing it, so you really need to document every little thing that happens in order to hold anyone accountable. Having solid photographic evidence is a great way to document the state of your property before your neighbor’s construction begins.
Regardless of how reputable the company that is working on your neighbor’s home seems, it’s in a homeowner’s interest to get legal advice and draw up an agreement that outlines everything that you agree to as the neighbor of someone undergoing a renovation. Don’t just assume that if your neighbor causes you any property damage he or she will be wiling to repay you the cost of the damage. In most instances, that simply is not the case.