Improving your home is exciting. Whether they’re minor or substantial, indoors or out, property upgrades can change the look and feel of your living space. For homeowners who take on such projects, the promise of a new kitchen or fenced-in yard makes all the noise, mess, and aggravation worthwhile. Your neighbors, on the other hand, have nothing good to look forward to but the potential inconvenience of not being able to enjoy their own home and neighborhood as much as they might until your project is complete.
Your finished project, too, might be an unwelcome change for your neighbors. A new view for you may block others’ natural light, and a bold new siding color may be an eyesore for the rest of your block. Before you take on new home improvement projects, learn about the nine that your neighbors will likely despise.
One of the most annoying home improvement projects is the one that lingers on...and on. When a home becomes an ongoing construction site complete with a chain-link construction fence, portable toilet, Dumpster, and torn-up landscaping, curb appeal for the entire neighborhood goes out the window. Be mindful of how long your project will take because if it lingers on for too long, neighbors are bound to complain.
It sounds like a good idea to install exterior security lighting around your home, but even that can cause trouble with neighbors. Be mindful of where you place motion-activated dawn-to-dusk lights. Though they may face away from where you sleep, they may light up the neighbor’s bedroom like a Christmas tree.
Bright Exterior Colors
Unless your home is in a tropical setting like Florida or the Caribbean, it’s probably a good idea to avoid painting the exterior a bright color. Just because there’s no homeowners association (HOA) that says all homes on your block must be beige doesn’t mean a bright pink or peacock-blue hue will be well received by the neighborhood. If you want to make an update that involves a gaudy color, paint an eye-popping accent wall inside the home.
Noisy, Congested Construction
It’s nearly impossible to build an addition or undergo a major renovation without making noise or a mess: Noise that begins too early in the morning, along with construction trucks that block neighbors’ access to the road, will leave you on the receiving end of dirty looks and snarky remarks. Instead, bend over backwards to keep the peace in the neighborhood. Work with the contractor to limit noise and traffic congestion, taking note of when traffic on the street is busiest. Be sure, too, to confirm local ordinances about the hours during which your crew can and cannot delight neighbors with the not-so-sweet sound of an power saw.
Additions That Take Away Their Sweeping Vistas
You’ve always wanted a second-story balcony on which to enjoy sunlight, fresh air, and better views. Before you begin construction, be sure your intended addition does not take these desired attributes away from your neighbor’s home. Instead, consult with a contractor about whether it’s possible to make your dreams come true without blocking the neighbor’s view.
A Too-Tall Fence
A fence allows for privacy, but if the one you install is sky-high compared to the neighbors’, you could be in for a fight. Not only will a too-tall fence look odd next to a properly sized one, it could also block sunlight and view the neighbors once enjoyed. In the same vein, if the fence materials you use clash with those the neighbors have, you could be in for some push back. The two fence styles don’t have to be identical, but they should be aesthetically complementary.
“Business in the front, party in the back” is a saying that is as true of homes as it is for mullet hairstyles: The front of the home is all about curb appeal and presenting an attractive complement to neighbors’ yards. When a pool, skate ramp, trampoline or gazebo is set up in the front yard, it interrupts the minimalist, manicured yards the rest of your neighbors have worked hard to cultivate (the screams of “Marco Polo!” from the pool won’t make you any friends on the block, either). If you must erect a recreational eyesore on your property, at least do it somewhere the neighbors don’t have to look at it.
While the neighbors will probably applaud you having dead or dying trees taken down, hacking down thriving trees could leave neighbors in a tizzy. This is particularly true if you want to remove a centuries-old beauty, or if the tree provides the adjoining property with desired shade or privacy. Before revving up the chainsaws, be sure to consult with your neighbor, especially if the tree straddles the property line.
An Extensive Irrigation System
Your landscaping will look greener and brighter than everyone else’s, but at what cost? An extensive irrigation system is great for keeping plants and grass on your property watered, but if the system is loud, runs early in the morning and late at night, or soaks the home or driveway next door, you might be in for an unpleasant neighborly exchange.
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