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The Construction Project Next Door

Real Estate Developments, Real Estate Legality

When looking to buy a new apartment, there are many things that should be considered. The location and the neighbors are certainly some of the main aspects. But what happens when the neighbors decide to erect a fence, construct a balcony, or build a rooftop terrace? “Move into a house or an apartment, and the space around it feels like part of your purchase. The identity of your home is invariably intertwined with characteristics that extend beyond your front door.”[1] When the neighbors decide to start a construction project, there are not many things that can be done to stop them as long as they are abiding by the city zoning rules and laws. New York City enacted their first zoning rules in 1916, and since then has massively expanded the zoning and building codes. “But rules cannot stop every poor design choice or unsightly rooftop addition. More often than not, frustrated residents can only plead their case to disinterested neighbors in the hopes of influencing the outcome, or simply to grumble.”[2] As long as the project is approved by the city, the only thing neighbors can do is complain.

Unfortunately, the risk of living in New York City comes with the prospect of construction projects popping up at any block. The uncertainty of the outside environment is a variable that goes into purchasing an apartment in the city. In the last few years, there has been a lot of new towers going up especially in the Hudson Yards and Brooklyn neighborhoods. It is inevitable that some waterfront views will get blocked, and some scenery will get diminished.

There are some steps that a homeowner can take to protect their property from damage. It is recommended that “adjacent homeowners ask to be added to the renovating neighbor’s insurance policy, and also have their own architect or engineer review the construction plans.”[3] They can ask to enter into a very detailed agreement that will cover any damages caused by the construction. This agreement specifically applies to house owners, instead of condo or co-op owners. Condo or co-op owners are usually protected by an alteration agreement that prevents any major construction that would damage the integrity of the building and the apartments. It is important to always get agreements in writing to dispel any arguments and situations that may arise as the project may drag on for months, or even years.


[1] Kaysen, R. (2018, October). What Are They Building Over There? Retrieved from The New York Times: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/12/realestate/what-are-they-building-over-there.html? Accessed on October 22, 2018

[2] Ib.

[3] Stellin, S. (2013, April). Coping With a Neighbor’s Renovation. Retrieved from The New York Times: https://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/14/realestate/how-to-cope-with-a-neighbors-renovation.html Accessed on October 23, 2018

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