image of do you need to tell neighbors when you renovate apartment

Do you need to tell your neighbors if you are renovating? What do you think?

Question: We’re getting ready to launch a major renovation of our apartment. I know we have to get everything approved by the city and our co-op board, but do we need to alert our neighbors? Can they block the project?

— Good neighbor in Gramercy Park

Dear Good:

Yes. And yes.

Your neighbors are going to live with the dust and the racket, even if you move to temporary quarters in the process. Don’t leave them with the mess without giving them the courtesy of telling them what is going on and keeping them apprised of the progress.

Neighbors generally won’t object to what you do in your apartment, but they will have issues with when and how the work is performed. You don’t want an unhappy neighbor complaining to the managing agent about your project and forcing an expensive and avoidable shutdown.

So bring your neighbors into the process early, just as you present your plan to your building board. If anyone has an objection that could throw a wrench in the project, it’s better to get it aired before work starts, rather than after.

Whom to tell? You should at least to inform your side-by-side and up-and-down neighbors. Depending on the layout of your building, you may want to include others on your floor or hallway.

Be informal. Slip a note under their door or catch them in the elevator, and ask for a few minutes to fill them in on your plans. Ask if they have any specific problems that you would like to avoid.

Keep them in the loop. As the project progresses, send out an email. You don’t have to provide a step-by-step, but you want them to know what’s coming up. Example: “We received our final city approval yesterday. My contractor says he hopes to start demolition work by April 1.”

Get specific. As the start date gets closer, tell them when the work will be done and how long it will take. “The contractor says the noisiest job — bathroom demolition — will start next Monday and take three days.” Give them your phone number and tell them to call you if they have any problems.

Have a party. And when it is all done, invite the neighbors in for wine and cheese. Thank them for their patience and their good neighborliness. If you can’t round up everyone for a party, at least send them all proper thank-you notes.

David Crook is a veteran journalist and author of The Complete Wall Street Journal Real-Estate Investing and Homeowner’s Guidebooks. Do you have a question about anything real estate-related in NYC? Write him at For verification purposes, please include your name and a phone number; neither will be published. Note: Nothing in this column should be considered professional legal advice. If you have a legal issue, consult an attorney.

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