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Dear Ms. Demeanor: I'm sick of my next-door neighbor's renovation project. Do I have any recourse?

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2019
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Question:

My next-door neighbors are installing soundproof windows in their apartment. But in the meantime, their contractors are making tons of noise and leaving lots of dust and debris in the hall. And the project is taking forever. Do I have any recourse? Signed, Sick of my Neighbor’s Reno

Answer:

Dear Sick,

The good news is that even with soundproof windows your neighbors are still going to hear those ambulances and car alarms. But seriously, this project should have a time limit on it and you should have some options.

When someone is doing any construction in our building, the board gives the shareholder a start and a finish date. If the project is not done by the stated end date, there is a fine. A good contractor can project a reasonable timeline. This goes for window installations as well as any other renovation work. Also, those living closest to the construction project are notified ahead of time and given those parameters.  

Everyone has a right to renovate (with board approval) but they do not have a right to go on and on and disturb those around them forever. Also, there should be minimal mess in the common areas and clean up each evening. In our building, contractors may start no earlier than 9:00 AM and must be out of the building no later than 4:00 PM. So, speak to your board and see if there is a light at the end of the tunnel (or at least clean and quiet at the end of the hall).  

And when those windows are installed, invite yourself in for a drink and see if New York is still not the noisiest city in the world. The sounds may be muffled but I bet that drink that it will not be the same as living on a fifty-acre farm in Nebraska.

Ms. Demeanor


Dianne Ackerman is the new voice of reason behind Ms. Demeanor. She has lived in her Upper East Side co-op for the past 20 years and is the vice president of her co-op board. She is filled with opinions that she gladly shares with all who ask—and some who do not. Have something that needs sorting out? Drop her an email.