How to Do Noisy Home Improvement When You Have Neighbors

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As two girls who are constantly improving our homes, we’ve completed our fair share of DIY projects.

And in case you were wondering, most home improvement projects come with a fair amount of noise.

While this can obviously be disruptive to the people in your own home, it can be especially disruptive to your neighbors.

Luckily, because DIY projects are sort of our thing, we have some tried and true ways to tackle home improvement projects without making our neighbors hate us. We’ll discuss how these tips vary depending on your living situation, with one of us living in a condo building in the city, the other in a single-family home in the suburbs.

Home Improvement Projects in a Condo Building

I, Casey, live in a five-unit building in the heart of Chicago—and I’m super lucky. Why? Because I absolutely love all of my neighbors.

They all know about my passion for DIY and have come to embrace the noise that erupts from our unit every weekend or so.

However, the reason they love me in spite of that fact is because I’ve taken lots of the following measures to be as respectful as possible to everyone living under the same roof as me, especially with any of my large-scale projects.

Read Your Home Owners Association (HOA) Rules

Every HOA comes with its own rules. You should definitely give that little handbook a read before you start any projects.

Take note of what projects are allowed (sometimes you’re not allowed to make updates on the exterior of your unit/building for instance), what permits are required, and the times when construction can take place. Being up to date on the rules will come in handy when you tackle the next item on this list…

5 Sweet Garage Upgrades That Up Your Home’s Value

Garage additions and upgrades like the five in this list can produce an estimated 65 percent return-on-investment.

Discuss Your Project At Your Next Building Meeting

In our building, we get together every few months to discuss finances, building issues, and other random items that pop up. Most condo buildings do this. Before my husband and I renovated our guest bathroom, we brought up our plan at our condo association meeting.

This was months before we were set to begin our project, but we wanted to get it on everyone’s radar and address any concerns ahead of time.

It ended up working out wonderfully because not only were our neighbors supportive, but we were able to gain insight on a few contractors our neighbors had used in their own homes!

At these meetings, it’s also important to give everyone your contact information so they can text or email you if things get too noisy or out of hand.

Giving your neighbors the go ahead to reach out at any point can potentially save you from headaches when the project begins. No one wants an angry neighbor pounding on their door!

Have a Plan for Extra Trash

In our building, we pay to have our trash and recycling hauled away each week. If our cans are overflowing, we face some extra charges and fines. When you’re gutting a space, you’re bound to have lots of trash, so make a plan to discard all of it.

Our plan was that we were able to pay our contractor to haul away all of the debris. This worked out perfectly because it didn’t hog up valuable space in our building’s crowded dumpster. Make a plan of attack before you start and let your neighbors know that you have things under control!

Always Keep Hallways and Common Areas Clean

Home improvement projects bring loads of dust and dirt into your home. And sometimes? The mess can spill into the hallway and common areas of your building. Be respectful. Keep those spaces as clean as possible. After a long day of DIY, don’t just clean up your own home, tackle those communal hallways too.

After we renovated our bathroom, I made sure to do a deep clean of the hallways and front of our building when the project was 100% finished. My neighbors appreciated it and I felt good knowing that our property was neat and tidy even after such a large construction project.

Stick to a Schedule

Your HOA may have specific rules on when you can do construction work. Ours didn’t have set hours, but we never started a project before 8 a.m. and tried to always finish by 7 p.m.

If we were up early and wanted to get moving, we would only do quiet tasks (getting out tools, taping walls, etc.) and we kept the loud tasks (like using the wet saw to cut tile!) to mid-day.

It’s also important to keep your neighbors in the loop when it comes to the timeline of your project. We thought our bathroom renovation would take four weeks, but it somehow extended into seven weeks. I emailed our neighbors a few times throughout the process to let them know that things were being pushed back and addressed any concerns. The new deadline ended up being a non-issue and I really believe it was because we were so open with our neighbors throughout the process.

Always Say Thank You

When we (finally!) completed our bathroom project, we left handwritten thank you notes on everyone’s front doors. We even went the extra mile and put coffee gift cards into each one. This was a simple way to say thanks for putting up with all of our noise and our neighbors really appreciated the gesture!

Home Improvement Projects in a Single-Family Home

While Casey lives in a condo in the city, I navigate these same noisy projects a little differently inside a single-family home located in the suburbs. Some of her tips are still helpful to consider, but the rules are slightly different for neighborly etiquette when you’re not living in such close quarters.

But even with the extra space a single family home offers, it’s still important to consider your neighbors when tackling large and noisy projects! Here’s how!

Physically Go Talk to Your Nearby Neighbors

Sounds simple enough, but it’s critically important to talk to your neighbors well in advance! Discussing your plans will avoid them feeling off-guard one the project (and noise) starts.

You also don’t want to cause alarm if they start seeing foreign vehicles from contractors or workers parked outside of your home while you’re away at work. Getting them in-the-know before the project starts will actually be to your advantage. Heck, get on their good side and maybe they could field a delivery if you’re running late or let a worker inside if needed. Neighbors want to help – in most cases – especially when they know what’s going on.

Secure a City Permit

Securing a permit, if your city/village requires one, is essential before starting any large-scale projects. (And this will protect you just in case a problem arises from one of your neighbors.) If they are unhappy about the noise, or dumpster placement, or anything else, and then they take action to report you, not having a permit will be a bigger problem than your neighbor’s complaints.

Start Inside Early and Move Outside Later

There have been plenty of times when we are knee-deep in a DIY project that we get up super early to continue. But, truly, saws are very noisy, so we typically wait for that step until it’s appropriate, or we take the time to get everything set up early (even if it is outside) and don’t cut until late in the morning.

Don’t waste time waiting for your neighbors to get up, but don’t go about your business waking them up either!

Let Your Neighbors Follow the Progress

An easy way to keep neighbors in the loop is to invite them in a time or two throughout the process to share your progress! Show them what you’re working on and how excited you are for the progress. Including your neighbors helps them feel special and they will be less inclined to be annoyed if things do get a little noisy or messy.

Overcommunicate

Overcommunicating is always a good idea to avoid confrontation. Don’t be afraid to let your neighbor know when the dumpster is scheduled to get picked up, any problems that may impact your deadline, when a large delivery is expected, etc. The more they know in advance on some of these larger “issues”, the fewer problems will arise. Use Nextdoor. Communicate, communicate and overcommunicate.

Keep Your Contractor up to Date Often

This overcommunication should also be applied to your contractors. Be sure to share with them your expectations on start times, end times, and any other issues that may impact the neighborhood. Don’t go to your contractor only after you’ve heard complaints or it’s become a full-blown problem. Being proactive and communicating your expectations in advance will hopefully help avoid any issues in your neighborhood.

Celebrate Together!

Now it’s time for the fun part! Once your noisy project is over, don’t be afraid to invite some of the neighbors over to check out the new space and enjoy a few cocktails while they’re there. We just had a large landscaping renovation happen that made our streets, sidewalks and overall curb appeal a huge mess for several weeks.

Once our patio was paved and the mess was cleared, we invited our neighbors over to enjoy the new space with some food, but most importantly, to thank them for their patience.

They were all so grateful and gracious, which gives me a lot more confidence to tackle another noisy project soon. Knowing I have their support makes the process a whole lot less stressful!


We hope these steps help you tackle your next noisy home improvement project while still keeping the peace. We’re no Mr. Rogers, but we’re confident you can tackle those DIY projects and still make it a beautiful day in the neighborhood for your neighbors.

House Hunting While Expecting? Don’t Forget About These Things

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As a mom-to-be, I had one thing in mind when my husband and I were recently house hunting while expecting: a space that was ideal for our growing family. We were no longer just looking for a home that was perfect for both of us, but instead, we had to think about our soon-to-be family of three (or someday even more!).

As if house hunting wasn’t hard enough, the “future family factor” can make the process even more daunting. If you’re expecting, or hope to start a family someday, then you’ll definitely want to keep the factors below in mind when searching for the home of your family’s dreams.

Floor Space

The most obvious and non-negotiable place to start is the size of any prospective home. Will it be able to accommodate you and your partner, along with one or more kids? Ask yourself these questions:

Where are the bedrooms located to one another?

Of, course you want to have enough bedrooms, but that alone isn’t enough. Like someone sketching out the perfect blueprint, you’ll want to consider where the bedrooms are located to one another. It’s preferable to have all the bedrooms on the same floor, so they can easily get to their child’s room at night.

Is there more than one bathroom?

Surprising nobody, people will walk away from incredible arrangements if this single factor is off – and it’s no wonder why. Whether this is your forever home or not, multiple family members getting ready for work and school in one tiny bathroom won’t cut it long-term.

Are stairs going to be a factor for you? (Probably.)

Parents who are city dwellers know how difficult it can be if you live on the third floor of a walk-up building. Even after pregnancy, bringing a stroller, a baby and groceries up and down three flights of stairs is quite the trek! Especially if you’re at the beginning of your family adventure, stairs may be a major factor to consider.

Is there an open floor plan?

These days, open floor plans are the most desirable, as parents can keep an eye on their kids playing while making dinner. Make sure whatever layout you choose is one that works well for you and your kid’s safety.

Where are you gonna store extra stuff?

Kids come with a lot of stuff. Strollers, clothing, toys, sports equipment … is there storage space for all of these things in your potential home? Make sure you have a concrete plan to contain the clutter!

Safety Concerns

Even if there weren’t any kids to consider, safety is a priority when house hunting. Add kids to the mix and you become even that much more aware of potential safety hazards that lurk in a potential property.

Is this home near a busy street?

A busy street can be a potential deterrent for a number of factors. First, it may be pretty noisy which isn’t ideal for sleeping babies, trust us. But (somehow) even more importantly, you don’t want your kids playing in a yard that’s on a street with lots of traffic. Here’s a protip: Google Maps highlights streets by their traffic. The darker the color, the more that’s “happening” there. A double-edged sword, to be sure!

What about a fence?

A fence in the backyard or front yard may be a priority for some expanding families, as it allows kids to roam the patio without wandering off too far. If there isn’t a fence (and you want one), budget in the cost of adding one when checking out potential properties.

Can kids play in the neighborhood?

When house hunting, you’ll want to get a feel for the neighborhood. If kids are out riding their bikes and playing in the streets, it may be a kid-friendly spot where your future kiddos can hang with their neighbors. If you want to get a feel for the crime rate, there are definitely handy websites that show you the police blotter for any given area. Your notes shouldn’t begin and end at the front door!

How far are you from your personal doctor or an urgent care/hospital location?

You know that scene in movies where a nervous husband carts his “in-labor-and-about-to-burst” wife into the car before zooming through traffic? Well, planning out where the hospital is not a one-and-done trick. While we hope you won’t be using this route often, make sure where your health insurance is accepted and where you live aren’t majorly out of sync. Speaking of this tip …

Location

Location, location, location. It’s always the number one factor when buying a home of any kind. But throw a kid or two into the mix and where you live is more important than the view.

What’s the school district like?

We’ve chatted all about the importance of house hunting with a school district in mind on the HireAHelper blog before, and we maintain this shouldn’t be overlooked. Do your research, look into the numbers, and make sure you’re in a school district where your children can thrive!

5 Sweet Garage Upgrades That Up Your Home’s Value

Garage additions and upgrades like the five in this list can produce an estimated 65 percent return-on-investment.

How long does it take to get to school?

When my husband was a kid, he had to take a 30-minute bus ride to the other side of town for school every single day. If you don’t think about this before buying, trust us, you will afterward. Can your child walk to school? Can you drop them off on the way to work? Is the bus ride manageable? Even if your kid is far from their first words, this is a crucial variable to think about when searching for your perfect home.

Are there other families in your neighborhood?

When narrowing down locations, it may be beneficial to take a stroll through the neighborhood on a weekend afternoon. Are there young families at the park? Are the kids a lot older? Is the demographic mostly older people without families? Do some research online (like with this app) and get a feel for the demographics of the neighborhood to see if your future family will fit right in. It helps to have a helping hand and a night out once and awhile!

Where’s the closest park/library/swimming pool?

When you’re a parent, you want to keep your kids entertained to prevent anyone from saying the b-word (no, “bored”). Having parks, libraries, swimming pools and other fun activities nearby is always a good idea. Nobody wants to have to make a field trip out of every excursion.


Starting a family. Buying a home. These are big milestones for anyone! But combining these two life events? You’ve got the recipe for a lot of important decision-making. Our advice is to be thoughtful, consider every angle, and think about your life 5, 10, or even 25 years from now. That way, you’ll be certain you’re making the best choice for you and your future family no matter what it looks like.

The Must-Do’s for Having a Successful Garage Sale

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Camping, family vacations, gardening, baseball – summer is chock full of activities that pair well with that laid-back nature of relaxing. Another summer staple? Garage sales!

Now with summer upon us, it’s officially garage sale season. This simple tradition is a win-win for both buyers and sellers because it allows the sellers to get rid of the “stuff” that has been cluttering their garage for far too long, all while making some extra cash. It’s also great for the buyers because they can score items that aren’t always on the market or stuff they could buy elsewhere for a fraction of the cost.

If you’re thinking about hosting your own garage sale this season, we’ve compiled a list of tricks that will help you increase business by bringing in more customers. That’s more profit and less stuff to haul back inside after it’s all over.

You Might Need to Get a Permit

Some cities or villages require a permit in order for you to hold a garage sale, while others do not. It’s important to check with your specific town to see what the protocol is before you start planning your garage sale. (Just do a simple Google search.) We would hate to see your’s actually get shut down after you put in all that prep time, just because you forgot to snag a permit. It’s better to be safe than sorry.

Get Your Stuff Organized to Go

Once you have your permit and a specific date set, it’s time to start combing through every nook and cranny of your house (don’t forget the attic!) in order to get rid of any items you don’t use or love anymore. From large furniture to small accessories, there should be almost nothing that is “off-limits” for a garage sale. You also want to take this time to start clearing out your garage. The piles of stuff you hope to sell don’t necessarily have to be organized during this stage, but it is important that everything is located in one spot so you have a sense of how much stuff you hope to sell.

Borrow Some Large Tables

If you don’t have large fold-up tables, you may want to ask your friends and family if you could borrow some. Even small card tables will help you display the merchandise effectively, which really helps business! If your family and friends don’t have any tables, you can always ask local businesses or organizations like the VFW or Goodwill. They may be more than happy to lend you a table for a few days, especially if you’re a loyal customer or are willing to share some of the profits of the sale with their organization.

Put Your Stuff Out by Category

Once you have identified what you want to sell and have your tables, start organizing your stuff by category. If you have furniture, put all of that in one spot. If you have a lot of holiday decor, put all of that together on a table. You can even use Tupperware bins from the attic/garage to pair like-things together, such as children’s toys or stuffed animals. Grouping these items together will help the customers identify what you have to offer a lot more clearly.

Invest Time in Some Amazing Signage

Get the printable file for these “Awesome Garage Sale” signs HERE

The key to a busy and successful garage sale is getting the word out! Some choose to advertise their garage sales in the newspaper or on the internet, but you should also invest time in creating eye-catching signage to place at busy intersections nearby. Choose bright colors and make your signs big enough for people driving past to stop and take notice. It’s also important to make signs that lead your customers directly to your driveway. Some people won’t look at the address and put it into their GPS, especially while they’re driving. It’s huge to plop signs along the route with simple arrows and bright colors, so drivers can follow the signs right to your house without getting confused or frustrated.

Price to Sell

Even though many of the items you are selling hold a special place in your heart, it’s important that the garage sale price of this item doesn’t reflect this history. It’s important to price your items to sell! After you price everything, don’t be afraid to categorize items by price because this will make marking the items a lot easier. You can put a large $1.00 sign on a table and tell customers that everything on this entire table is a dollar. This will save you some serious prep-time and keep your life a lot easier on the day of the sale.

Get a “Bank” Ready

Make sure you visit a local bank and cash in some large bills for singles, fives and coins ahead of time. Many of your customers may not have exact change and if they pay their $1.50 balance with a $20, you need to make sure you have enough change for them. Also, be sure to have this cash in a secure spot that is being supervised at all times. If you want to keep it on your body at all times, try using a cross body purse or fanny pack. If you feel more comfortable putting it in a cash box, make sure someone is sitting and supervising the bank at all times.

Enlist Some Friends

Speaking of supervising the cash, it’s best if you have at least two (maybe more) people working the garage sale. At times, it can become hectic with customers asking questions, paying for the merchandise and just coming and going. Having two people with specific jobs will help you avoid the chaos, help customers and stay attentive to the cash at all times.

Be Willing to Negotiate

You never want to take less money, but customers will definitely try to haggle the prices at garage sales. It’s okay to stand firm, but you also have to be realistic. Be open-minded to accept less for some of your items, especially when the garage sale is almost over. It’s better to make some money, instead of nothing at all!

Have a Plan for the “Leftovers”

After the garage sale is over, you may have a few items left behind that were not sold. It’s important to have a plan for this so that this stuff is not taking up valuable space in your garage, attic and closets anymore. Whether you plan to donate the items or try to sell some of the larger ones on Craigslist, make a plan of action before the sale is over so you know exactly what to do after the last customer leaves.


Although garage sales can be a lot of work and stressful at times, make a point to enjoy the experience! Invite over some friends to help so you can catch-up during slow times, turn on the music and soak in the sunshine. The more fun you have, the better your experience will be.

If you follow these tricks, we’re confident that your garage sale will be a big hit! And after it’s all said and done, hopefully, all you’ll have to worry about is where you are going to spend all your hard-earned cash.

Showing Your Home? These Are the First Impressions That Matter

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To us, staging your home to sell is similar to going on a first date.

You set up this date in hopes to meet your future spouse. You don’t know if that’ll be the case but there’s always the hope, right? If you’re hoping to land “the one”, chances are you’re going to put some effort into prepping for this first date. We feel the same is true when it comes to staging your home to sell.

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What Pantone’s 2017 Color of the Year Can Look Like in Your Home

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Not only would it be festive to incorporate more green into your home for the upcoming St. Patrick’s Day festivities, but Pantone named green as their color of the year for 2017. Bold choice! This bright green hue oozes freshness, brings the outdoors in, and as Pantone states, “[Is a] refreshing and revitalizing shade and symbolic of new beginnings.”

It’s a smart choice too; Injecting a pop of green into your space will ensure that your home is ready for the holiday, sure, but you’ll also get those staying up-to-date vibes. Look at you go!If you’re interested in bringing a sense of outdoors inside, or maybe you’re just looking to refresh your space, we’ve got six tangible ways to stay on-trend by adding green to your space.

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