The Sound of Jackhammers Dancing in your Head? Tips for dealing with Construction in Marin

Early mornings in Marin are the best. The sound of birds chirping and the rosy streak of dawn across the sky but wait…what is that other sound? It’s a steady stream of trucks coming up the hill and disgorging teams of construction workers ready to start their day drilling, pounding and digging. Welcome to almost any Marin neighborhood these days as bigger, better and more perfect is the new mantra.

Don’t get me wrong, change is good and inevitable. Maintaining your property and updating it as the times and styles are a’changing is important. But finding the balance between your neighbor’s right to remodel/build and some semblance of normalcy in a construction zone and all it’s inherent challenges is like balancing on a giant Bosu ball.

In a perfect world, you are friendly with your neighbors or at least have a nodding, smiling acquaintance. Ideally, when they are planning to start a project, they would notify the neighbors affected with their scope of work and plans, a timeline for the work to be completed and a responsible contact person if issues come up. If folks feel they have some information ahead of time, they can plan accordingly. There should be a scope of work and permit posted at the job site also.

Make sure there is clear communication with the neighbor and/or their contractor so you know when the concrete trucks are coming to pour the new swimming pool or the sub contractors are coming to take up every parking space on the street or block your egress. If you’re a really nice neighbor, maybe you park your car away from the hubbub on the day of the big pour so you don’t have to wait and walk to your car down the street away from the mess. Ask that the port a potty be placed in a discreet place so that you don’t have to look at it all the time.

Check with your local municipality but make sure the job isn’t violating the hours of operation allowed for a construction project. Most towns say you can do “light” work from 7am-8am and 5pm-6pm and the full on heavy duty noise can happen from 8am-5pm. If there are regulations being broken, tell your neighbor about it first. They may not be aware of the infraction. If you are not finding satisfaction, bring it to the attention of the City and if it’s on the weekend, you can notify local law enforcement. If you work from home, it may be time to invest in earplugs, noise canceling headphones or flee to a temporary office site until the ruckus is over.

Construction worker gossip can be priceless. You can learn a lot about the project from talking to the guys on the job. You can sometimes also get some added benefit from someone else’s dumpster and skilled workers. If you have a cordial relationship with Builder neighbor, perhaps you can ask to use their dumpster to throw out those 3-4 items that have been taking up space in your garage . Also, the plumbers, electricians and other workers may be interested in doing your little project as a weekend job since they’re on site for the bigger project.

In the end, it’ll all be fine and if it’s not fine, it’s not the end. Try and have a positive attitude about this disruptive process. When it’s all over, there will be an improved home on your street that will help raise the value of all the homes around it. Maintain calm and decorum and that will stand you in good stead because you may be the next one pulling a permit once you see how nice your neighbor’s house looks!

-Katrina Kehl