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Wednesday, December 19 , 2018, 4:14 am | Fair 43º


How to be a Good Neighbor Through a Remodel


The tensions of home remodeling can extend beyond your property line. Here's how you can help avoid being a neighborhood pariah.


They are the people who bring your dog safely back home when he escapes from the front yard. They’re the ones who have that extra egg ready when you’re desperately trying to finish the 25 cupcakes for your child’s birthday party. These are the people you see almost everyday, and when you’re going through the pandemonium of a remodel, it’s better if grievances can be kept from none to slight.

Santa Barbara contractor Dennis Nelson feels that if homeowners communicate to their neighbors before the job even starts, it can feel less invasive. Preliminary posting of plans will also give neighbors a chance to dispute anything they’d be unhappy about. Although this may sound like a potential pain-in-the-neck, it may save time and money in future legal tangles.

Terri King, a longtime Santa Barbara homeowner who has experienced both the nightmare of remodels herself and living alongside them, advises the friendly approach of introducing yourself to neighbors you may not have met and letting all neighbors know what your plans will be on a personal level.

"Neighbors like to know there is an end in sight," she added.

Keeping neighbors informed on how long a project will last can remind everyone that the neighborhood will only be affected for a certain period (probably longer than anyone wants, but hey, it still feels good to remember it will stop one day!).

Commercial real estate agent and local homeowner Teri Klobucher suggests that homeowners try to be congenial by either verbal or written words saying that you are open to hear any concerns. She notes that neighbors experiencing a second-story add-on of the next-door remodel may want to communicate their need for privacy if it looks directly down into their bedroom; can this be remedied with a different floor plan or landscaping?{mosimage}

Nelson emphasizes that one of the first rules of consideration is abiding by the guidelines of appropriate construction hours. To check for your neighborhood, contact the county Planning and Development Department. In fact, Nelson says neighbors can call the police — and they will come — if your crew is working during nonallowed hours.

Nelson also posts signs on his job sites that remind workers there should be no dogs, no alcohol and no loud music. He believes common courtesy should be followed as well by making sure the crew doesn’t continuously park in front of surrounding homes and that job site trash be cleaned daily.

Sometimes as the homeowner, you may also want to be empathetic to the individual needs of your neighbors. For instance, if they have children, you may want to stress to your contractor to remind the subs not to cuss up a blue streak while they’re cutting tile on the front driveway. King also suggests reminding workers that in the early morning hours, neighbors may be still sleeping and to try to schedule less noisy work then.

Both Klobucher and Nelson’s wife, Kathryn, stress the importance of respecting the whole character of your neighborhood. Klobucher questions the need to make a 1,200-square-foot house into a possible mini-mansion. There may need to be a compromise in size. Kathryn Nelson believes homeowners should try to build in a way that incorporates the general size, landscaping, style and color scheme of the street. Your long-term relationship with your neighbors may not suffer as much if your house doesn’t appear like a hulking, unwanted intruder.

Even if there haven’t been many problems, it’s important to ensure innocent bystanders, your ear-strained neighbors, feel appreciated. Kathryn Nelson suggests a neighborly barbecue will often do the trick, while King adds, "Cookies never hurt!"

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