The Flip: Making Nice with the Neighbors

If there’s anything we’ve learned about remodeling over the past few years, it’s that construction makes a big mess and can be extremely inconvenient.  Not just for you, but for your neighbors.  And that’s not fun for anybody.

Before we began the renovation on our house, my mom recommended that we leave notes in our neighbors’ mailboxes to introduce ourselves and ask them to let us know if the renovation was causing them any trouble (you know, so we could fix the problem).  We did just that and the project went smoothly, at least as far as our relationship with our neighbors was concerned.

{UPDATE: If you’re not mailing the notes, be sure to just tuck them near the mailbox where they’ll be noticed since only things that have been mailed should go in the mailbox!}

However, we started construction on our last flip without leaving any notes in mailboxes.  Towards the end of the renovation one neighbor got a little testy with one of our subcontractors and . . . you know how it goes.  We later spoke with the neighbor and gave our apologies, but in hindsight we wished we had just made contact with the neighbors from the very beginning and asked them to get in touch with us before any situations got sticky.

This time around, we decided once again to leave this little note for the neighbors.  (I’ve said “note” so many times I feel like Snooki and Jenny on Jersey Shore!)

{ Yes, our note was decorated with a cheesy screwdriver.  I couldn’t help myself. }

We’re hoping that the note will encourage them to call us before they get too frustrated with the construction.  We definitely want to keep everybody happy!

Besides leaving notes, here are a few other things we try to do to keep drama with the neighbors to a minimum:

1. Do any noisy work between the hours of 9 – 5, and preferably during the work week.

2. Don’t allow any unattended vehicles to block the street, alley or driveways – that is a surefire way to make people cranky.

3. Keep the work site tidy, especially the front yard and sidewalk. Nothing will tick people off like a toilet in the front yard.

4. Be visible – your neighbors want to know that you’re keeping an eye on the project, and it gives them a chance to get to know you.

5. Be proactive and nip any potential issues in the bud before someone complains.

6. Ask your contractor and subcontractors to direct your neighbors’ concerns to you – you will almost assuredly be able to diffuse the situation better than they can.

What other suggestions do you have for running a drama-free renovation?  Have you ever had any run-ins with neighbors about your home improvement projects?

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  1. christy says:

    Wow if I ever do a flip I’m going to be emailing you for that screwdriver paper pdf! So freaking cute! I love it! And you are beyond courtesy – I’m impressed! I hope it all goes well Liz! I have no advice, as I’ve never done this. But the toilet in the front yard? Yeah, our next door neighbor is renovating and they let their old one sit in their side yard – which is DIRECTLY in front of my kitchen window – FOR WEEKS! I never got up the nerve to say anything either. Sigh.

  2. This is a fantastic idea… and one I’ll be sure to use in the future. So far we’ve had no problems with our neighbors, only fliers on the mailbox advertising various services (which kinda makes us self-conscious when we are regularly getting offers for lawn and tree service, but we get it, the exterior needs work!).
    Sarah @ The Ugly Duckling House´s last blog post post ..Its In The Bag

  3. Janis says:

    Your mother is so wise! This overture also invites the neighbors to have some ownership in the project, to become your extra eyes, and it gives them a way to contact you if they observe anything amiss that you might want to know about (a door left open, etc.). Great plan!

  4. Joan says:

    Great idea to be proactive with the neighbors. I want to cross stitch somewhere your phrase, “NOTHING TICKS OFF THE NEIGHBORS MORE THAN A TOILET IN THE FRONT YARD!”
    Funny and true. Once in a renovation, the contractor really did effective practice public relations with the neighbors, and let his workers eat their fast food lunches under the neighbor’s trees and park in front of their house. Some of his workers were decidedly shady looking. The neighbor complained repeatedly after it was all over. She was correct, but since I had no idea, I was not able to change it.
    Liz, I look forward to seeing your progress on this flip!

  5. Joan says:

    the contractor did NOT practice effective PR . . .

  6. All great tips. Can you please forward these to the builders who are still working on finishing up our neighborhood?!?!? ;)
    Averill (Odi et Amo)´s last blog post post ..Advice for New Moms- What We Eat

  7. Kim says:

    This is such a great tip and something I hadn’t thought of. We’re currently working on our third renovation, and I’ve always tried to talk in person to the neighbors. But, our current house has been a little more difficult because there are more neighbors and they aren’t around as much. This idea is much better. Thanks!
    Kim´s last blog post post ..Eggplant Parmesan

  8. Great tip! I would caution you though not to put a flier actually in the mailbox if you haven’t actually mailed it. Technically it’s illegal, and as dumb as it sounds I have actually heard of people getting in trouble for it (that’s why people always leave fliers on the outside of the box or at people’s doors). I love the note and the screwdriver image though :) It’s a great way to let people know what’s going on!

    • Liz says:


      You’re completely right! I should have pointed that out (and we actually tucked them into spaces near the mailbox or front door), and I’ll add a little update to the post so as not to lead others astray. Thanks for pointing that out!

      ~ Liz

  9. Lauren says:

    Does this fall under the “Southern hospitality” tab? This would definitely fly amongst all these crazy polite Canadians, too. I hope this earns you many a plate of neighbourly brownies!!!
    Lauren´s last blog post post ..Day 40- life around here