Renovating? Here’s how to avoid fights with neighbors over noise

Home renovations are meant to be a fun filled project resulting in your dream home, but in light of recent events with actor Justin Theroux’s apartment renovations, tenants need to be aware of the risks they may be taking.

As reported by the New York Post, Theroux, who stared on the HBO show “The Leftovers” and is married to Jennifer Aniston, was completing renovations on his New York apartment two years ago when a feud with his downstairs neighbor began.

The neighbor requested that Theroux install soundproofing while completing his renovations, but that would cost him over $30,000. Theroux refused.

The demand for soundproofing is legal because of the possible violation of sound ordinance.

Now, because Theroux was not aware of the possibility of this violation before he began renovations, he is caught in a tumultuous feud and lawsuit with his neighbor.

This kind of situation can be avoided and all it takes is for anyone involved to be informed.

Noise is going to happen with construction no matter what, but the issue to think about is whether or not this noise is happening at odd hours of the day and causing inconvenience to other tenants.

Gary Smith, who is a partner at Phoenix-based law firm Smith Paknejad, is educated on these issues, having dealt with cases like it, here in Arizona.

He claims that there are other ways to avoid excessive noise without spending a large sum of money or getting involved in a lengthy legal battle.

“With walls, you can install items called resilient channels that dampen noise. Or, if you really want to get aggressive, you can design your wall and electric plan in such a way as to assure that no two sections of wall share back-to-back cut outs for j-boxes (outlets),” Smith says.

There are even cases in which people can hang temporary sound-dampening fabrics and pads throughout the construction site to lessen the noise during the renovation as well.

Tenants of apartments and condominiums are more likely to suffer from excessive noise due to close proximity, but again, it is about what hours of the day and night that noise is happening and with houses, it will be a problem based on proximity between the properties.

Smith suggests that the legal issue Theroux is facing today could have been avoided without legal action altogether.

“Before you start, tell your neighbors what you are doing, apologize in advance and acknowledge you’ll be making some noise and dust,” Smith says. “Maybe bring them a bottle of wine once in a while during construction, just to smooth ruffled feathers.”

Now, that is not to say that if a tenant is being harassed in some way or their property is being damaged, they should not take legal action, Smith says.

If absolutely necessary, a tenant should definitely take legal action, but not until after they have attempted to avoid conflict without legal assistance, he says.

After all, when the renovations are finally done, the people living around the property will still be neighbors, and it may be better to speak up before animosity ensues.

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