legal issues, contractors, and neighbors, oh my!

short version:

  1. last monday, work started on our windows and was making excellent progress when
  2. around noon, a man from the city passed by, informed us we were missing one of the permits, and shut us down
  3. matt came home and noticed that the windows that went in are the wrong windows (bar in middle preventing anything coming in and out of window – a problem when our stairs are too narrow as well)
  4. our contractor came over and agreed that problem, and discussed his plan for dealing with the permit problem
  5. wednesday night, our downstairs shop-neighbor came back from a week-long yoga retreat to find us shut down and scaffolding still in place around her store, and calls me to complain. i explain the situation to her
  6. thursday, matt tried to get some things cleaned up around her shop and the contractor comes and moves the windows, which were stored in the passage way beside our house, to a slightly less in-the-way position
  7. friday, continued negotiations with neighbor
  8. saturday, same neighbor threatens to call the city and force us to take down our scaffolding so matt attempts to reason with her
  9. sunday, matt has trouble sleeping (big surprise)
  10. today monday, i first emailed an acquaintance who is a lawyer handling building laws etc., to see if he has any advice
  11. then i called our bank to find out how to use our legal insurance protection thing to procure a lawyer for our 2 problems: permit issues and wrong window issues, just in case
  12. then i called the insurance place, where i was told that we didn’t have the right kind, which i knew MUST be wrong, so i called the bank again, and the bank called the insurance, and the insurance called me
  13. the woman at insurance tells me that probably it IS a good idea to get them involved, and took my details, gave me a file number, and tells me that the lawyers will contact me within 2-3 days
  14. in the meantime, our contractor is trying to sort out the problems, and matt is trying to deal with our neighbor.

seriously, though. stupid neighbor is NOT seeing the big picture here. taking away our scaffolding will not actually prevent it from ever going up again. one way or another we NEED new windows, so the work has to get done. causing us to get more fines and costs associated to the work will not help the project. helping the project might speed it up, and thus might benefit all of us, her included. whereas hindering us like this will probably cost us tens of thousands of euros and will still need to be done.

she also lied and said that the other neighbors from the passageway beside the house were complaining. i’ve spoken to a couple, and of course they find the scaffolding a little annoying, but understand that our house will look nicer, be less likely to leak into things that affect them, etc, once the work is done. mostly, they’re pleased to see we’re getting new windows, and think it’s shitty that the city has stopped us. one of them even suggested we just keep on keeping on, and that usually the city will approve it anyway. (this is a bad idea, actually, but it’s sweet of her to try and make us feel better.) another one said, when i apologized for the trouble, "oh, don’t worry! it’s no trouble for me! it’s YOU that has the trouble! i hope things go a bit smoother!" very nice.


  1. Man, I feel for ya. You tried to be nice to the neighbor, so if I were you I’d use that rechtsbijstandverzekering coverage to explore options in the event the neighbor formally complains to the city about the scaffolding, whether you can stall until the job is done. Once your legal ducks are in a row, you can tell her you’ll do what you can to speed things up, but the scaffolding stays until the job is done.

  2. Call her on it if she brings it up again. “You know, that’s strange — after you said that, we went around and talked to the neighbors, and they were all fine with it. Who did you talk to?”

  3. Ugh. It sounds like you’re taking all the right avenues to help prevent this from snowballing even more. I would suggest what 433 said. Or invite all the neighbors over for beer to discuss?? (Perhaps out of the question)
    I was just hearing a story the other day on MPR of a woman in San Fransisco who put up solor panals on her roof and it created a huge problem with neighbors, who said it blocked their views. Understandable, however, your scaffloding is temporary! I just don’t get people.

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