Being a good neighbour
A new build is an exciting time for everyone involved. For the builder, it’s a chance to highlight their skills and work with a new client. For the property owner, it is a chance to see their dream come to life. However, construction can also be disruptive. Regardless of the setting, whether it is a residential neighbourhood, an apartment building, or a commercial plaza, it’s essential to be mindful of those around us and take steps to minimize any disruptions.
The City of Toronto recognizes the process of renovating or building in an established neighbourhood as “residential infill.” When done correctly, residential infill contributes to the vitality and value of communities, which directly affects property value. It also preserves green spaces, improving quality of life and health. Regardless, despite one’s best efforts, if a construction project is mismanaged, it will be detrimental to its surroundings. To avoid disrupting the peace to damaging the area, builders must plan and carefully assess decisions to ensure every step taken is up to code and guidelines. Working with a design-build approach, SJOC Construction Inc. plans every aspect of the build and ensures suppliers’ and traders’ compliance with regulations, which minimizes risk and community discomfort.
Even though the construction project itself is an arrangement between client and builder, there is a third party to be considered: the community members, mostly known as neighbours. For this reason, the City of Toronto has developed “The Good Neighbour Guide,” which successfully highlights the rights, requirements, and best practices to ensure a rapid, non-problematic project development.
Effective communication is key
The key to a smooth construction project is effective communication between parties. As a property owner, approaching your neighbours before applying for a permit can be a suitable place to start. If you drop in for a visit, some good talking points to address would be:
- Explaining the project
- The duration you expect it will take
- How the planned activities may influence the neighbourhood.
Another preventive action to take is that, once construction begins, the property owners should provide neighbours with a way to contact them if any issues arise. By doing so, disruptive situations can be managed promptly, preventing them from escalating. In addition, well-informed neighbours are more likely to support your project than those entirely unaware.
Dealing with complaints
By following all bylaws and taking steps to minimize the possible adverse effects of development, builders develop a reputation for being trustworthy and respected in the community. Knowing and understanding the regulations ahead of time can prevent problems such as complaints and fines. Some of the most common complaints include:
- Dirt on Sidewalk/Road
- Safety Conditions
- Concerns about Parking/Materials on the road
- Unprotected trees
- Grading and Damage
- Concerns about property lines
- Waste and Site Organization
“The Good Neighbour Guide” highlights these issues and provides diverse ways to prevent them. For example, regular sweeping and water to wet down construction sites can help reduce dust. By safely storing materials, builders can help keep sidewalks and roads clean. Work should be scheduled during daytime hours when traffic is lighter to minimize noise.
While some disruptions are inevitable, we can make a difference by being proactive and communicating with neighbours. Construction does not have to be a nightmare for anyone involved. We can make the process as smooth as possible with proper preparation and meticulous planning. We’re sorry for the inconvenience; but construction is unavoidable. However, by following best practices and being mindful of those around us, we can minimize disruptions and build strong relationships with our neighbours.
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