Home improvements make your home a better, more pleasant place to live as well as adding to its value. Then, surely, home improvements must be a good thing, right? Generally speaking, yes. There are, however, some home improvements that could turn your neighbors into your enemies in the Bay Area.
1. Fixing Drainage Problems
If you have a low spot in your backyard that collects water during wet periods, it can make your yard virtually unusable for long stretches of time and become a breeding ground for mosquitoes, creating a health hazard. You have finally decided to do something about it, but the issue is that the water has to go somewhere.
However, if the water drains into your neighbor’s yard, causing it to become soggy and messy, it could lead to problems. If your neighbor becomes upset and wants to take legal action, you can seek protection under the “reasonableness rule.” This rule requires that your neighbor must provide evidence that you acted unreasonably in altering your property to cause harm to their property.
In other words, if you take reasonable steps to address the water issue in your yard, such as installing a drainage system or building a retaining wall, and your neighbor’s property is still affected, then they may not have a valid legal claim against you. It’s important to consult with local laws and regulations and communicate with your neighbor to find a mutually acceptable solution to the water problem.
2. Planting Ornamental Trees
It’s natural for homeowners to want to personalize their property, often through landscaping, such as planting ornamental trees. However, in some cases, this may cause conflicts with neighbors, especially in the Bay Area.
For example, Bradford pears are known for their strikingly beautiful blooms, but they can also create problems with neighbors. These trees emit a powerful, overpowering, and offensive scent during their blooming season, which can be quite unpleasant. Furthermore, these trees have a tendency to shed brittle branches, including into neighboring yards, causing potential harm or inconvenience to those living nearby.
While planting ornamental trees may seem like a great way to enhance the beauty of a property, it’s essential to consider the impact on neighbors. The choice of trees should be made with the surrounding environment in mind, and homeowners should be aware of the potential drawbacks of certain trees. In addition, it’s crucial to maintain trees regularly to avoid creating hazards for neighbors. By being considerate and thoughtful about tree selection and maintenance, homeowners can avoid neighbor-related conflicts and enjoy their property to the fullest.
3. Adding a Room
You’ve been living modestly for a few years and have saved up enough money to add a new guest room to your house. After having plans drawn up and hiring a contractor, you’re now excited to see your vision become a reality.
However, you’re also aware that this construction project could cause problems with your neighbors. As the project unfolds, your neighbors will inevitably be subjected to the noise and mess of construction. Trucks from the lumber yard will be making frequent deliveries, power tools will create a constant whine and growl, workers will be shouting to one another, and the sound of hammers and nail guns will punctuate the air. While you understand that these noises are a necessary part of the construction process, your neighbors may find them to be a nerve-wracking annoyance. It’s important to be mindful of their concerns and try to minimize the disruption as much as possible.
They may also be upset when the job is completed, that their favorite view is now obstructed by your new room. This may not always be the case, but . . . just sayin’.
4. Installing a Pool
If you’ve been saving up for a while and finally have enough money to get an in-ground swimming pool with all the bells and whistles, such as a diving board, changing house, and wet bar, then be prepared for potential envy and complaints from your neighbors. They may not appreciate the increased noise and activity that comes with having a pool in the neighborhood.
Initially, your neighbors may feel a slight pang of envy when they see your brand-new swimming pool, but this feeling can quickly turn into resentment as they realize they don’t have a pool of their own, and can’t use yours anytime they want to. As time goes on, this resentment can escalate into antagonistic anger, particularly when they have to endure the loud sounds of laughter, music, and clinking glasses during your night-time pool parties. It’s important to be aware of your neighbors’ feelings and try to be considerate of their concerns, even as you enjoy your new pool.
It can’t be helped, though. It’s just human nature.
While it is true there are home improvements that could turn your neighbors into your enemies in the Bay Area, you shouldn’t let that put you off your dreams and plans for your home. Using the right approach, you can move forward with your home-improvement plans without creating any “neighbor issues.”