How Should Power-Tool-Using DIYers Handle Less-Than-Understanding Neighbors?

Are you a power-tool-using DIYer like I am? If so, do you have any neighbors that are less than tolerant of your noise? If so, I’d love to know how you handle it.

I’ve lived in my condo for 6.5 years now, and in that time, I’ve never once had a neighbor complain about my power tool noise. I try to be very conscientious about when I’m using my tools. I observe my city’s noise ordinance (no noise after 10:00pm or before 7:00am), and in fact, I do my best to have my tool usage finished up by 7:00pm if I can, and I don’t use my tools before 9:00am. And I don’t use power tools every day.

But after 6.5 years with not even one single complaint, I now have a neighbor who is less than enthused about my power tools. The strange thing is that she’s not a next door neighbor. She lives on the other side of the building from me. To give you an idea of what I’m talking about, here’s a picture of our building, with me standing right in front of my front door. The arrow is pointing to her condo. From my front door to her front door is about 85 feet.

condo neighbor

Her first complaint was on Sunday, February 17th. I was just starting my mosaic tile frame that I made from wood yardsticks

When I work on a project, it usually takes me several trips in and out of my condo to gather up all of my tools and supplies, and get them set up outside on my work table. So that afternoon at about 4:00pm, I was getting set up to do some sawing, and on one of my trips outside, I noticed that my neighbor had come outside and was setting up her hammock between these two trees…

hammock trees

She was on the other side of those tall, overgrown bushes, so she probably couldn’t see that I was setting up to work on a project. But I continued with my plans.

I needed to cut 20 yardsticks into small pieces, and each one took me about 2 minutes to cut. After I got one cut, she came over, clearly unhappy with my noise, and explained that she had 12 hours of studying to do (again, this was at 4:00 in the afternoon), and that the noise was really distracting.

I apologized for the noise, and told her I would do my best to finish up quickly. That obviously wasn’t the response that she was looking for, but I continued with my project.

My reasoning was that when it comes to studying in a quiet place, there are many options. We live about five blocks from the university campus, and they have a library. There are other libraries in town, as well as cafes with wi-fi like Barnes & Noble. But when it comes to me using my tools, my options are limited. In fact, my only option is to set up outside my front door.

So I was hoping that that neighbor complaint would be a one-time thing.

It wasn’t.

This past Sunday, I was working on my artwork for my bathroom

I needed to cut the plywood for my “canvases”, so at about 5:50pm, I took the plywood and my jigsaw outside.  It required a total of eight (8) cuts with my jigsaw.  If you estimate two minutes per cut (which is probably about twice as long as it actually took), that means that it would have taken me a maximum of eight minutes to cut out the plywood pieces.

I got two cuts finished, and was about to start on the third, when I felt a tap on my shoulder.  I turned around, and saw the same neighbor standing there.

Again, she was frustrated.  She asked me if there was any way I could wait to work on my project, because she was trying to finish up a paper for a class.  She said that normally she would just go somewhere else to study, but, and I quote, “I also had to do laundry today.”

I had to make a split second decision, so I agreed to wait.  In my mind, I thought that perhaps she was outside studying, and I just hadn’t realized that she was there when I started sawing.  So with the assumption that she had “first claim” to the outside, and that she was already there studying, I agreed to put my project off (even though it would have taken no more than four minutes to finish up).

So I went about my business, sanding (by hand, not with my electric sander :) ) the piece that I had just cut.  Then I turned around so that I could see where she was studying, expecting to find her somewhere outside in the courtyard.

She was nowhere to be found.

She was inside her condo studying!!  And again, her condo is about 85 feet away from mine!!

condo neighbor

I went inside and told Matt.  He was in the bedroom, and he said that with me just outside our front door, the noise level was minimal.

From that distance, with her inside her condo, the noise from my jigsaw couldn’t have been any louder than the noise coming from her washer and dryer.

I have to admit, I was upset.  But since I had agreed, I went ahead and waited the agreed-upon amount of time (20 minutes) before I started sawing again.  But I didn’t wait a second longer.

So I need to decide how to handle this in the future, because I have no doubts that there will be further complaints.  I do understand that she needs to study, but on the other hand, my blog is my means of income, and I have to be able to do my projects**.  And I certainly don’t think that eight (or even forty) minutes of sawing is unreasonable in the afternoon.

How would you handle the situation if you were in my position?  And if you are a power-tool-using DIYer who has had similar experiences with neighbors, please tell me how you handled it!  I don’t want to make an enemy of my neighbor, but I also don’t think I should be expected to work around her schedule when trying to get work done in the afternoon.

What are your thoughts?  Help a girl out here!  :)

**Edit:  While I do blog about my projects, and my blog is my main source of income, the bottom line is that I’m trying to get this condo completely finished so that we can put it on the market…hopefully by summer.  So really, right now, this is less about “this is my business and my source of income”, and more about “I need to get this condo finished as soon as possible so that we can sell it and buy a house.”

 

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Comments

  1. says

    I would exchange schedules with her. I would explain to her that you make your living with these projects. If that does not suffice, go to the home owners meeting and find out from them if there is a better solution!

  2. Jennifer Loy says

    I live in a very close neighborhood as well..we all follow the same rules, no noise late or early. But, we are doing DIY or mowing to just improve our homes. You are doing it to improve your home AND its your job. If a lawn care company was using noisy things, trimmers, weed eaters, leaf blowers, mowers…would she ask them to stop so she could study? I may be wrong, but I would do exactly as you have..for 6.5 yrs. You are following the rules and thats why they are in place. I would politely tell her that..and that this is your job as well. How would she like it if you asked her to stop studying that eventually lead to her job, so that you can use your power tools? I think she is the one being rude.

      • michelle says

        I agree with Jennifer, but you may want to make sure there are no rules in your community about working from home first.

    • Cheryl says

      This. Exactly. I question the reasoning behind moving in to a condo community if one has oh-so-sensitive ears. Perhaps she needs to invest in some noise cancelling headphones.

    • says

      Ditto. I wouldn’t even attempt to come up with special rules or schedules with her (mostly because most of us do DIY projects when we can fit it in and never quite know which project we’ll be working on and when sawing will be needed). Maybe pick a neutral time when you aren’t working outside so she isn’t already ticked off and talk with her. You may even talk to your condo management or association president ahead of time to confirm that you are within your right and let her know you spoke with them also. I understand that you want to be courteous but she’s asking more than that. 8 minutes of sawing is certainly nothing to get so worked up about that she has to confront you about it. At this point she’s got you on her radar and making a point to notice every noise you’re making so I think you’ll have to talk with her to get that pattern to stop. Sorry you have to deal with that!

      • says

        According to Forbes, one in five Americans work from home, and that number is continually rising. Both of my parents were self-employed, working out of their home. It’s really quite common.

  3. says

    Maybe she’s never lived in a condo or apartment before?

    I don’t think you are doing anything wrong, and this is coming from someone who DOES have a problem with her neighbor using power tools. I don’t know what he’s doing, but it sounds like he’s cutting cars in half in his backyard. And even that wouldn’t bother me…but usually STARTS these projects at 9pm. On Monday nights.

  4. Megan says

    I would tell her that it will take approximately X amount of time and then you will be finished. There’s no need for you to apologize or work your hours around hers. Lots of things make noise and living in a condo you should expect this. (I work nights at the hospital and I would never ask anyone to work around my sleep schedule when I lived in an apartment. It’s life- get used to it!) Maybe she’s just jealous of your awesome outdoor space! ;)

  5. says

    Part of me says work your little heart out. But I also understand wanting to keep the peace with your neighbors. I have the same issue in my condo and we have an older couple next door. Their bedtime is well before our city’s noise ordinance and I didn’t want to disrupt them. Luckily my husband was already living here before I moved in and had established a good relationship with them. So when I started bringing out power tools I casually brought up what time would be best for me to use the tools. I think I would start there with your neighbor. If she approaches you again and wants you to quit working ask her if there’s a good time frame you could work with the power tools. Sounds like from your examples it’s mostly late afternoon/early evening so maybe say from 4-8 you MIGHT be outside with your tools. If she has any studying or work to do during those hours she either needs to crank up the radio or set out for the library. If she’s not willing to work with you then too bad for her. I say use your tools as much as you want! ;)

  6. Kiara says

    Noisy neighbours irritate me, I’m glad I don’t live in a block anymore. Having said that it’s not like you’re right next door and you work at reasonable times so in your shoes I would just tell her that you’re sorry that it seems to bother her but that you are working and that’s not going to change. (making sure that you express regret at the fact that she feels the way she does about your actions, without actually apologising for your actions.

  7. Lorraine says

    I would create a schedule for the week. Detailing which dates and times you will be sawing. I would then take it to her door and slip it under or post it. This way YOU have the upper hand and are telling her when YOU will be making the so-called unbearable noise.

  8. says

    I don’t think you owe her anything. I don’t think you should have to wait to do a thing, no matter how noisy, in the daytime. She can’t tell the garbage trucks, police sirens, and airplanes to “keep it down” in the daytime. She can’t tell you that either. Her abnormal schedule or lack of concentration aren’t your problem. If you were attempting to run your air compressor at 10:30 at night, I could see her point.

    • says

      I agree with Kimberly. You pay rent just as much as she does. Tell her she can call the cops if she wants. They can’t do anything to you if you are following the rules…

  9. says

    I’d buy her a $5 Starbucks card and say that my business blog is supported by Power Tools. I’m hoping your studying produces a great business/life-style for you that you’ll enjoy as much as I do. Buy yourself something yummy from me, so we both get to enjoy our dreams!

  10. Jeanne Bolin says

    Perhaps it is just Sunday that bothers her. See if you can come to an agreement as to the day of the week that she needs to study and you can have the rest of the week for your work. I wouldn’t think it necessary to give her but one choice she she already has so many and yours is necessity. Good luck!

  11. says

    I bet that what she is experiencing is louder than you know, caused by the sound bouncing between the building; it happens where I live too. We also have laws in place that there is to be no excessive noise at ANY TIME. It is not usually enforced but can be if it’s persistent.

    You have been extremely accommodating and you have received some good advise on how to handle this situation. Maybe it’s a sign that you WILL be moving to your new home soon :)

  12. says

    I am sure after 6.5 years, you know if there are any condo rules about excessive noise. I also wonder if condo living is the right place for this woman. Noisy neighbors can indeed be frustrating, but it is not like you are lifting weights and doing aerobics in the condo above hers at 2 am. I had a neighbor whose home gym was set in in the bedroom above my school age child’s room, and did exactly this when she got off work from her shift as a bartender.

    We moved. It just got too annoying dealing through the condo association. They were in clear violation and did not care.

    However, if someone used power tools in the daytime within rules, I would have just sucked it up and gritted my teeth if it bothered me. It would not be a bad idea to give her some notification of your tool use–”My use of powertools is frequent but within legal/condo association rules, and I have been using them thus for the last six and a half years. If you can give me some general knowlege of your needs, I will accomodate if possible. Be aware that I will most likely be using the tools from x-y on z days on a regular basis.”

    Good luck.

  13. Kelly says

    I can understand your frustration and your points about other noise from landscapers and washer/dryers, etc. My only concern is when I read this: “I do understand that she needs to study, but on the other hand, my blog is my means of income, and I have to be able to do my projects. ” Your condo association or city may have very specific rules about running a business out of your home, especially if that business infringes on other tennents with increase in foot or car traffic or increase in noise, etc. I’d try to fly under the radar as much as possible. Good luck.

    • Chris says

      I would be wary as well. We had neighbors on our street whom we nicknamed “The Mayor of X Avenue” lol. They would drive up and down peering into every nook and cranny they could. I worked from home, alone on the computer, but a woman down the street had 2 people come to her home every day to work out of her home. They turned her in for that. I think I would just explain that you are a crafter and well within your rights to be crafty & make some minor, short-term/short-bursts of, noise within association rules. lol I can’t imagine anyone telling you that you had to stop a hobby because they can’t concentrate through noise. (I hope her job is in an isolated cubicle in the back 40 or she’s a getting a degree that guarantees her an office with a door!) lol

  14. Nicole says

    Honestly, she’s being unreasonable. You’re doing everything shy of packing up and moving to accommodate her and she’s still not being flexible. Tell her to get ear plugs. You might also want to present her with the complexes by-laws explaining that what you are doing is allowed and she is going to have to live with it. This might not seem like the most neighborly approach but she needs to understand that you have rights too. She sounds like the type that if you don’t stand up to her she’s going to continue to expect you to change YOUR schedule to make her happy. That leaves you unhappy and broke because your blog will suffer. Get the HOA involved if she keeps it up. Stay strong! You’re being more than reasonable.

  15. jennifer says

    Here is what I would do.. after she tapped me on the shoulder the second time… I would kindly say…. ” yes.. hello. um.. this is how i make my living.. i work at home. i have been here for 6/12 years and no one has complained.. i apoligize that you are sensitive to the noise.. but i am not going to change the way i work to feed my family.. thank you .. and have a nice day and get off my property.. thank you,.

  16. Sil Adkins says

    What happens when there are maintenance crews or hired contractors on site that have to use power tools or landscaping people using the loud blowers, etc? Does this “neighbor” complain to them as well?! This does not even make sense that she would single you out. Have you run this by anyone in charge at the office? We are currently living in a condo and hate it! We had always lived in a house and cannot get used to the noise from our downstairs neighbors and miss having our own yard, among many other things. We are moving back to our home state where we still own a home and will have a yard again to do what we want when we want (within reason of course!). I feel for you.

  17. says

    sounds like there is nothing you can do to make this neighbor happy…she can’t expect the world to stop and be quiet because of her! You do what you do…follow the noise bylaws and be happy! if she can’t study with a little outside noise or distraction…I sure hope she is not going to be a doctor! lol

  18. says

    It sounds like she would like to eliminate all noise that isn’t created by her or, at least, dictate to you when you can work so that it is convenient for her. I think you’ve been very thoughtful in your responses to her, but she also needs to understand that your work can’t revolve wholly around her. You’ve had some excellent suggestions, and I’m not sure I can add a lot to it, but I think talking to her and finding out what would be a MUTUALLY agreeable work schedule for you is the best course. If she refuses to be flexible…well, you tried. Who knows…you might even make a friend. At the very least, you will have done all you can to get along.

  19. Karen says

    lots of good advice there, so let me just add a piece that hasn’t been voiced yet: I’m working as a freelancer from home, but I’m lucky my job doesn’t involve noise. I would hate it if I had to stick to a schedule that, even though I made it myself, might infringe on my working hours and my freedom of planning my working days! So if you really offer her a schedule of when you might work and make noise, keep it as open as possible for you to organize your days with it. So that you don’t find yourself in a hassle over your schedule when you need to go to a shop in order to buy more supplies and then your “noise schedule” doesn’t allow you to work with the supplies afterwards anymore!
    I do agree though with some post before me that it is possible that your neighbour has only been disturbed because the noise happened on a Sunday? Here in Germany, Sunday is still regarded as the day in the week when people try and keep from making too much noise outside (even though of course you hear people mowing the lawn occasionally). So you might want to check that with your neighbour?
    Good luck and I keep my fingers crossed that you find a solution other than fighting with her, because that can be so time- and nerve-consuming!

  20. says

    It sounds like she is targeting you personally. Isn’t there noise when the lawn gets mowed?

    My advice is to just say no. “No” is a complete sentence. What she chooses to do from there (like file a formal complaint, etc.) is up to her. You can smile and say I only have 20 minutes of work or I only do this during the day if you want, but I think you can and should just say no.

  21. Shannon says

    I’m not taking sides but maybe just maybe she can hear the saw in her apartment. My parents live across the street from us and at Christmas time they hung a wreath that played music on their front door. When the wreath was turned on we could hear it so loud in our living room that we finally had to call them and ask them to turn it off, but standing in their front yard 30 foot away from the wreath it wasn’t half as loud as it sounded in our living room which was 5 times further away. The door it was hanging on was the door to their living room and the music from the wreath wasn’t even as loud in their living room as it was in ours. There was some kind of amplified sound effect going on. I’m not saying that this is what’s going on, it’s probably not because I would think if it was then other neighbors across the way would also have issues with your use of power tools but you never know.

  22. Andrea says

    She’s a fixater… now that’s she’s fixated on it- it’s a classic power struggle because she’s a CONTROL FREAK! Ignore it. She has no grounds to wipe her #$@ with. If I complained every time my neighbor used his tools- well first I wouldn’t because he helped us dig our water line up and replaced it at the house connection, among other things. The rental up the street? Different story- they were noisy as $#@%$ and drag racing at 1a.m. in the morning and throwing loud parties on their front lawn and when they used my front lawn as a TURN AROUND yeah I called the police. Yeah- they didn’t get their lease renewed and our “hood” has quieted down since then. I also live across the street from Geezer Condos so I know I wasn’t the only one that was irritated to say the least. People think their entitled. Document when she “complains” to you. It’s well within the noise ordinance in most people’s realities… *snicker* Good Luck!

    • Leslie says

      I totally agree, but not so sure that I would’ve said it quite this nicely. Sounds like a spoiled little rich girl who has had whatever she wants her entire life, including someone buying her a condo. I like the idea of nicely giving her a S-Bucks gift card and sending her on her way, but she is fixated on you and she is going to complain regardless of what you do.

  23. says

    I would say that “i’m sorry that the noise is disturbing you but this is my job and i’m sure that you can understand that i have deadlines that must be met,i’ll try to be as quick as i can” and just carry on. If someone had huge renovations going on builders could not stop and start to accomodate everyone’s sleeping, studying, relaxing time etc. living close to lots of people can be noisy. deal with it. they should try living on the UK where lots of our houses are close together!

  24. Marcia says

    I think you have been very reasonable with when you use your tools. If it were me I’d hand her a pair of earplugs and directions to the library.

  25. Tani says

    I have a couple of thoughts.
    1. I think she is using you as an excuse. I had a band director in high school who said that we needed to learn discipline to over come distractions after someone interrupted our rehearsal. this is a valuable skill. Life isn’t going to stop for anyone. she is wasting a lot of time coming over to talk to you. It seems like it is more time than you are even working.
    2. Looking at the configuration of your complex makes me wonder about the sound bouncing off the walls. While I think she is being hypersensitive, the noise could be annoying to her because of the reverberations.
    3. You are never going to be able to please all the people all of the time. And if you keep giving in you will no longer have anything left to give.

    • Patty Curtis says

      As to #2 above: perhaps you could build yourself a portable, sound-muffling “cubicle,” a 3-sided, folds-flat, insulated “wall” to erect around your work area outside when you are using power tools! This would show her (and anyone else to whom she may complain) that you are serious about being a considerate neighbor.

  26. says

    Produce for her a set of your condo rules and regulations with regards to noise. And leave it at that. Don’t mention it as your business. Not worth the hassle. You are simply doing home improvements. There is nothing outrageous or unreasonable about that.

    And perhaps when her studies are finished and she decides to throw a party- she might see things a little differently when the complaints are directed at her.

    • Sabina claus says

      I agree do not mention your blog or business…it most likely is against HOA
      1. re-read your regs to ensure your not breaking any rules, such as using common areas to do work (some rules state painting, staining and power tools are not to be used)
      2. mention you only have so much time in the day to complete your “home improvement” projects (what if you had rented that tool)
      3. just continue to be the sweet girl you are and get your stuff done!
      4. a Starbucks card may not be a bad idea to smooth things over but be firm in the fact you have things you have to get done to

      Good luck!

  27. Theresa says

    Everyone has posted a lot of great advice…….I have to commend you on your patience. Maybe get her a set of earplugs, and whenever you plan to do outdoor work, knock on her door and tell her that it is ear plug time. If it were me I would put them on a string, that way she can wrap them around her neck.

    Maybe she just wants the attention, maybe suggest she help you with a project; get her involved, not only will she be learning something new, but it may help her become more tolerant and appreciative towards what you do.

  28. PopcornGlamour says

    Here’s the problem that sticks with me……….her time is not more valuable than your’s. Not only does she not have the right to dictate when you use your tool’s (other than enforcement of any condo rules), she’s basically saying she is unwilling to make any changes to HER schedule and you have to be the one who makes the concessions. If she isn’t willing to meet you halfway, then there’s no reason for you to jump through hoops to make this whiner happy.

  29. says

    I think you are totally right – and she is totally nuts. I agree with most of what the folks before me have said. I think the idea of giving her a Starbucks card is a great one – I would say that, Kind but Assertive is almost ALWAYS the way to go (at least to start with). This second complaint sounds totally ridiculous to me. She asked you to wait 20 minutes so that she could finish her paper?? That’s insane. It must have taken her nearly that long to come outside and find you and tap on your shoulder and talk to you and make her way back to her computer. She’s got issues that have nothing to do with you.
    I have to say this though – if I were her and I saw your blog with a picture of my front door with a big arrow pointing at it. . . I would NOT be happy. Really. Not happy at all. I don’t think you working with your power tools during reasonable hours gives her ANY legitimate grounds to be irritated with you – but I think that photo might be another story.
    :) You DID ask. . .

  30. says

    Perhaps you could kindly remind her that the sooner you finish your projects, the sooner you will be moving out! Maybe then she’ll stop harassing you! If she can’t handle reasonable neighbor noise then she should not be living in a condo community. It’s good of you to want to keep the peace though.

  31. Debbiecz says

    We have a long deep city lot…50 x 70. We renovated the entire house with much of the work done outside. In the three yrs we worked on the house, we never had a complaint. We then moved on to build a small storage shed, working weekends as my husband is a contractor during the week. The first complaint was a neighbor two doors down. She arrived in a tea length lace chiffon dress and demanded we stop because they had a wedding reception going on in their back yard! I convinced my unhappy husband to stop but I really wondered why she hadn’t sent out a note to neighbors warning us of the party..what if we had a party of our own or a yard sale. The 2nd complaint was a guy behind us. He was a wedding photographer and was trying to nap before working that night. He was nice about it, no problem. I think your neighbor is a bit young and inexperienced in neighborly relations. You’re doing the right thing, just explain that you have to do this work and if you just finish right away it’ll be better in the long run. Or bribe her by making a pretty frame or lap desk for her hammock.

  32. Jean says

    There are lots of condos and apartments in your area. Most of them are filled with college students. College students are not generally quite. If she needs complete quiet to study then she is in the wrong area. Also, the condos are just off Interstate 35 with heavy traffic 24/7, so there is lots of traffic noise, as well as sirens, brakes screeching, etc. And as others have said, there is yard work going on that is not quiet, as well as maintenance work. She can’t control any of that, but your occasional use of power tools is one thing that she feels she has some power over. It would be nice to be able to schedule your work as some have suggested, but since your husband is disabled and you don’t know from one day to another what your schedule will allow, that won’t work. I say that next time you should explain that you are remodeling and you’re hoping to sell your condo when it is finished. Hand her one of your cards with your website on it and say in your usual cheerful tone, “Here, you can see on my blog exactly what I have done so far and how it looked before. Believe me, I hope it won’t take too much longer. You will have to come see it when I’m finished! But right now, I am working on ______ and need to get it finished. I should be through with the noisy part in about ___ minutes. I’m so sorry it bothers you.” I think that once she sees your work, she will be amazed and be a lot friendlier.

  33. Marie says

    Suggest she purchase some noise cancelling headphones…they are available. If you are feeling really generous…buy them for her as a peace offering and expain your situation at the same time.

  34. Susie says

    I have not read all the suggestions that were posted, but I think she is displaying very self centered behavior. What would she do if she lived in a bigger city or on campus where the noise level can be much higher? She needs to take responsibility for her priorities of studying and school work. I would be polite and firendly. I would suggest showing her your blog and all the awesome projects you have completed. AND I would suggest she invest in a pair of noise canceling headphones. :) (I agree with Popcorn Glamour, too. She should meet you half way.)

  35. says

    This is quite the touchy problem! You’ve gotten a lot of great advice about handling the problem professionally, and about maintaining good relations with this neighbor (like the Starbucks gift card) but I’m going to offer some suggestions from another angle… the covering your own behind angle. Let’s not bother with the rights and wrongs — you have a need to work and she has a need to study, and those needs are in conflict just now. What is problematic, as you try to resolve your conflict, is that this young woman sounds self-centered and she sounds like she has a sense of entitlement a mile wide. And a confrontational streak. So the next step she’s likely to take is to make some official complaint against you. If you do anything now that gives ground or admits contrition/wrongdoing, that will encourage her (and possibly look bad to your HOA). So DO NOT give her a gift card. DO NOT give her your schedule (also because you don’t want to have to stick to it). DO NOT tell her that this is how you make your living, because that reveals a weak spot. You don’t need to offer her explanations. It’s your home, and you have every right to use power tools.

    What CAN you do? You can say, “I’ve been improving my space for 6.5 years and I’m always careful to follow the noise ordinances. No one has complained before.” You can write/go to the HOA yourself, outline the situation in a calm and neutral tone, and say that you want to verify that your occasional noise is within the community’s ordinances. (Only do this if you know that the answer is “yes”.) You can also say to the young woman, “Although no one has complained before, and so I wasn’t aware that I was bothering you, of course I don’t want to do that. Is this your finals time? Do you always study on Sunday nights? Could you study at a library?” First place the burden on her, to study in a time/place that gives her the quiet she needs. Then consider, without telling her that you’ll change your habits, whether doing your sawing earlier in the day might help. What time does she come home? Is she away on weekdays? Can you pull out the jigsaw in the middle of the afternoon? Would that inconvenience you at all? Is the inconvenience to you worth keeping the peace?

    Be courteous, but don’t give ground unless you’re sure it’s ground you won’t want back. Good luck, and keep us posted!

    • Gilmer Gal says

      I give this comment two thumbs up! Kristi, your neighbor has a problem, and it’s not noise. Don’t let this girl get to you. That’s what she wants to do. Make sure you are in the right (which you are according to your bylaws), and finish your work. Just ignore her comments, in the nicest way possible. Don’t change your schedule to accomodate her.

  36. says

    I can’t imagine 40 minutes of sawing is more distracting than say a leaf blower or lawn mower. When I lived in a townhouse community, I worked from home. Guess when the leaf blowing and mowing happened for our community? During the day when most everyone else was working in the city. I didn’t enjoy those days, particularly if I had to be on the phone, but no one on the other end could ever hear it which left me thinking I was being overly concerned about it. And that was just during the week, wait for the weekends when the weekend warriors started their DIY projects. And I never imagined complaining. It’s not like you’re playing loud thumping music at 1am. I don’t know how to advise handling it, but I think she needs to get real or move to the country. The level of quiet she seems to expect is not what you get living in close proximity to others.

  37. terrillr says

    I’m thinking hanging her hammock between the two trees is a violation! It’s not like they are “her” trees, they belong to the community/HOA. Please be sure to double check the HOA and city rules for home businesses first. I know most places have a work at home restriction, that’s not enforced until someone makes complaints. I’d hate for you to get caught up in the middle of that.

    My guess is she puts off her studies/assignments until they are due, making Sunday her deadline day.

  38. Deb says

    I would check your condo association rules to be sure you are in compliance with them. You could also ask her for her study schedule (in writing) and work around that.

  39. Eileen says

    Elizabeth said it best. Make sure that you are within hoa guidelines for working. I moved into a co-op and left an empty cardboard box outside my door for about 20 minutes and the neighbor called the fire dept for a fire violation!!! Nice time to discover that I moved in next to a nut. Don’t mention work to her, but do tell her that the sooner you complete your projects, the sooner you’ll be moving. Don’t give her any more info…it’s not her business. Good luck!!

  40. says

    Elizabeth said it best. Make sure that you are within hoa guidelines for working. As I was moving into a co-op, i left an empty cardboard box outside my door for about 20 minutes, the neighbor called the fire dept for a fire violation!!! Nice time to discover that I moved in next to a nut. Don’t mention work to her, but do tell her that the sooner you complete your projects, the sooner you’ll be moving. Don’t give her any more info…it’s not her business. Good luck!!

  41. Carol says

    Try to be a friend to her, get to know her, let her get to know you. Maybe it’s not the noise that’s the real problem but something else going on in her life. I had a similar problem once and the person eventually became one of my best friends.

  42. Carla says

    Kristi – it’s not like you are using a saw for HOURS at a time. This is nuts. The decibel level of her dishwasher, washing machine etc is probably the same as your power tools in her living room. The next time she asks you to quit I would just say “Sorry I need to get this done. It will take approximately xxx amount of time.” Then continue and finish up. She will get the hint and can then make a complaint and be told by someone in charge that you are following the rules.

  43. says

    Oh, I don’t know…. ask her to help you by laying down on a slab of plywood, then tell her you are channeling your inner magician and raise the skill saw like you’re gonna cut her in half. She’ll think you are so crazy she won’t bother you any more.

    Bliss

  44. says

    Lots of great advice for you there Kristy. I am sure you will work out a suitable solution.
    In our area noise restrictions are different on a Sunday to other days, I am wondering if she is more sensitive due to Sundays or comes from an area with tighter Sunday restrictions? A close friend of mine, who also likes to DIY, lives in an area which has a total noise ban on a Sunday (which she finds difficult due to being only able to DIY on weekends). We live next door to a motor mechanic and I am glad to have the noise reduced on a Sunday.
    Having said that we still have other noises like mowing and DIY on a Sunday (some of the noise is made by us) just with later starts and earlier stops. We are aware that our neighbours on the other side have a young baby and her room is closest to us so try to be sensitive around her sleep times. One Saturday afternoon we were mowing and doing loud work in the yard and our neighbours had guests (we hadn’t noticed). They came over and asked if it was ok if we left the work closest to them until later as they couldn’t hear their conversations in their outdoor area. We agreed as we were working right on the fence-line at that point and their outdoor area was just on the other side of the fence. That part of the yard ended up not getting done until the following weekend. I am sure they would do the same for us if the situation was reversed. It sure can be tricky trying to work around neighbours.
    If you are sure you are within all noise restrictions and getting along with her personally isn’t especially important, (you aren’t going to be neighbours for much longer) you are well within your rights to proceed how you see fit. All the best with this one.

  45. Brenda says

    I wish I could give thumbs up here, you have so many great responses. My take is simple. 1) You are doing home improvement and it has to be done at home. You can’t go to the library or Starbucks to do home improvement! 2)You are following your condo noise rules. So here is a suggested plan of action. The next time she bothers you (and yes, that is what she is doing) express regret that she feels this way but you are obeying the condo rules and you are doing home improvement that you are entitled to do. I will join you in praying that you are in your own single family home as soon as possible. Prayer can accomplish so much in your heart! You are using your talents to help your family! One last idea, if you think it would be receptive, give your condo board or management company a heads up and tell them that you are complying with noise rule but they may be hearing from this crank. I would gather that she is the kind of person that complains about every little thing at a restaurant and keeps the waitstaff running for her

  46. Althea says

    I agree with Elizabeth and terillr, admit nothing and cya re: working from home rules before you do anything, But I’m pretty sure she shouldn’t be hanging hammocks since in a condo all the landscaping is community property. You could always go take a nap in her hammock LOL

  47. says

    How about asking her if the two of you can come up with a schedule? While I do sympathize with needing to study, and I certainly get the practicality of doing laundry while you’re home studying, you live in a complex with many residents. You’re not running power tools during odd hours or after quiet hours. There has to be some compromise on her end too!

  48. Kathy says

    I DO get bothered by noises. If its someone blasting their stereo at 11 pm or having a party until the wee hours of the morning in their yard, not far from my bedroom windows, I have been known to call the police. If its something noisy during normal daytime hours, I suck it up and deal with it. If she doesn’t like the noise, go study somewhere quiet. Or get some earplugs and use them!! I sleep with them every. single. night. I HATE them, but if I want to block out snoring, talking, crickets chirping, clocks ticking, etc. and sleep, they are necessary. She is being unreasonable in expecting the whole neighborhood to be quiet so she can study!! Maybe she has forgotten that this isn’t a dorm with mandatory quiet hours during finals week.

    Good luck!!

  49. Sherrie says

    I am one of those people startled by loud noises and loud people. But it is my problem alone to deal with not everyone else, nor do I expect it. I use ear plugs, and cotton!
    Since your in a Condo I am assuming you also have a association? I would present the problem to them. I would explain how I have stopped and tried to work with the neighbor in every way possible. And ask them (remember you pay fee’s) to handle it. This keeps you out of the middle. I assure you that there is other construction, children crying, dogs barking and everything else going on during the day. One person can’t dictate to everyone. Nor should you have to abide by her guideline’s, these aren’t the Condo’s guidelines. The association should be the one to handle someone unreasonable, and problems. Since you have lived there for many years, no complaints this one person sounds unreasonable. Letting the association handle it will take care of her bullying tactic’s. Should she complain to you again don’t engage her. Because someone that has been made fully aware of their guidelines. Either send her back to the association to complain or remove yourself and ask them to step in on your behalf. By removing yourself and letting them handle the problem she can’t bully nor engage in inapporaite behavior. This removes you totally. I hope all these wonder post help. Good Luck!

  50. Brenda says

    Personally, I think she is being rude and has no business asking you to hold the noise down for her benefit. I think she has a problem that the world does not revolve around her and I would not give a care about what she is assuming is HER right to demand from you. As long as you are following the guidelines for your condo, I can see no issue that she can complain about in a legitimate way. If you have a written set of rules or regulations from your condo association, I would be tempted to hand her a copy the nest time she says anything…

  51. says

    I would just tell her you are fixing up your condo so you could sell it and buy a house, and the sooner you can get your projects done, the sooner you can put the condo on the market…then I’d toss her a few small plastic bags with ear plugs in them, and tell her these will probably help : )

  52. says

    Kristi, she’s a professional complainer. Meaning she more than likely complains about EVERYTHING that she views as an inconvenience to HER. Her condo is far enough away from you that she is complaining more than likely just to complain, but there is a very small chance that she can hear things because it appears your patio is a direct shot over from her condo, it could be one of those weird noise-bounce problems. That said, the distance is great enough that noise should not be *that* loud.

    Here’s what I’d do: remind her that you live there, too, that you’ve never once had a complaint before, and that you are obeying the law/noise ordinances. Tell her that your hours are X to X for POTENTIALLY USING power tools EVERY DAY, and they will continue to be that because the projects are to improve your home and you are trying to get the place ready to put on the market. Tell her she will be really happy when your place sells! I’d not bother with mentioning my job, unless you are sure your HOA does not restrict working from home. You probably could get an exemption on THAT, however, because you are primary caretaker of your disabled husband. Remind her of her options for studying and compare them to your limitations for using power tools. If I were you, I’d ask her where the heck her iPod is, or why she doesn’t turn on background noise in the form of her stereo (but then I tend toward the snarky!). I’d also go to the drugstore and buy a box of Mack’s noise-cancelling earplugs (those things are AMAZING!) and give her about 5 pair as a gift (you can reuse a pair several times, and after she’s done with the 5 pair, she can GET HER OWN!). Tell her to put the damn things in when the noise gets to be too loud for her. I would be firm, and polite, and friendly, but there is no way in H-E-double-hockey-stick I would back down! Tell her the terms are non-negotiable, and she’s just going to have to learn to deal because *newsflash* the world does not revolve around her.

    To give my reaction some perspective, I live in a big city (L.A.) in a neighborhood that has mixed zoning. My bedroom window in my apartment backs up to what was a residence (house) that has been converted to A WOOD WORKER’S SHOP. The distance between their garage and my bedroom window is far less than 85 feet, and I am here to tell you that they start EARLY in the morning Monday-Friday and sometimes on weekends with multiple workers using heavy-duty power tools (drills, nail guns, sanders, and saws – lots and lots of saws!), and they go for HOURS AND HOURS with them. I’ve never once complained because I’ve gotten used to it, the place is a BUSINESS and its job is to be noisy, and because I’m not a whiny little turd. We also have massive amounts of noise in the form of traffic, loud stereos, police and fire sirens (there’s a fire house on the corner, and because this is L.A., they are on call ALL THE TIME!), loud talking, and gun shots just to name a few pesky noise disturbances. I use the Mack’s noise cancelling ear plugs every single night (and yes, I can hear my alarm clock go off every morning even with them in) and they do a remarkable job of cancelling out the noise, in fact, the noise from the wood shop does not wake me up any more.

    Don’t back down from her. Keep doing what you are doing, you are not breaking any laws, nor are you being discourteous. But please do remind her that the next time she taps you on the shoulder while you’re using a saw, you will not hesitate to smack her upside the head, and she is NEVER to do that again. Being distracted by someone while using power tools is dangerous, and just shows that she has no regard for anyone else but herself! I knew a man who lost two fingers on his dominant hand because his mother-in-law distracted him when he was using a power compound miter saw. He almost shoved her under the thing in response, but the massive blood loss made him too woozy to be on his feet long enough to hold her down!

    Good luck, and please update us.

  53. Sue says

    It doesn’t sound like you’re doing anything wrong. You are following the quiet hours rule and you are not using your power tools for excessive amounts of time. She needs to get herself a quiet place to study – the library or get a set of ear plugs or headphones to keep out any noise. What does she do when they mow and trim the lawn in your complex? I doubt if she tells them to stop. She could live in my neighborhood when our neighbor starts working on his race car at 10 or 11 at night! LOL

  54. Patricia says

    Hey, if she is bothered by the noise, she is bothered by the noise. It really doesn’t matter how far away you are or how “minimal” your husband finds it. I doubt she is coming over to tell you about it because she enjoys doing that. I would say your other neighbors have been probably super-tolerant, but now you have one who is sensitive to the noise and cannot deal with it. Why should she have to go outside of her home to study or do anything else? By the same token, why don’t you rent a work space away from the condos? When you buy or rent a place you have certain expectations that your home will be your sanctuary. Some people are more sensitive to noise than others; they can’t help it. For me, just thinking of multiple two-minute sessions of a power saw seems intolerable. Am I making that up to make your life miserable? Absolutely not! I love your work, but the reality is, you are in a highly dense community, and you need to be respectful of everyone there.

    • Brenda says

      Patricia, you are wrong. It is unreasonable to expect someone to rent a space away from home to remodel their bathroom. The expectation to have only quiet during daylight hours at a multiple housing unit is unreasonable. Density goes two ways. If you are sensitive, you and she are perhaps not suited to dense multi unit housing. My own dear husband is not.

  55. stephanie says

    Wow! You all are so nice.

    What about finding out exactly what the noise ordinance is and make as much noise as legally allowable during the hours permitted? Perhaps even invest in a directional amplifier and point it toward her condo.

    But that would be mean. bwah-ha-ha-ha-ha….

  56. Ann W says

    I would let her know that you are fixing up the place to sell – the quicker she allows you to do this the sooner you are out of her hair – :) So if you want me gone and not working on projects – then let me work on these simple / short projects at a responible time – which I already am – and you will be rid of me quicker than you can even think!

    I would be concerned about telling her about your blog being your job – people like that can be very unkind! And use it against you.

    I just moved out of an apartment situation that was terrible and the lady used everthing against me- the more I tried to communicate the worse it got – so I finally told her – listen we are moving in x months – can we just have some peace until then? She was silent after that!

  57. says

    I have a feeling that this lady is a whiner and would complain no matter what time you used your power tools. I would just explain that you are following the city noise ordinance and perhaps she could get some ear plugs. Ear plugs really do work. I wouldn’t be mean about confronting her, just assetive that you are actually working, this is your livelihood, and that perhaps she needs to figure out a plan B.

  58. Maggie says

    Sounds to me like your neighbor just may be one of those folks whose parents never said no to her and/or raised her to think her right and needs came first and maybe even she was the only one with rights.
    That said,I agree with those who have indicated working out a schedule with her may be appropriate and reasonable. That is of course if she is reasonable. If not and you are not breaking any rules set up by the condo association,I would just indicate to her that ,you are within your rights and it is the way you earn your living, and be done with her.
    Trying to be reasonable ,in my eyes,is never wrong,but some folks just will not do their part. I refuse to let them ruin my day . It usually works it’s way out.

  59. suzanne says

    I like what Jennifer said about exchanging schedules, etc. – but I would also REALLY take the high road, bring her some goodies or a small gift to thank her in advance for “working with you” and tell her that you would be absolutely delighted to refrain from any “noisy” tool use if you
    know that she has blocked out a particular study time. If she does not respond to sweetness and
    sincerity, she is just not normal:)

  60. says

    Um, that’s a total bummer! I feel for your neighbor and her need to study BUT you’re not doing anything wrong! I mean, how is that neighbor going to feel when the association where you live starts mowing the grass?? Is she going to complain about that too? Honestly I would just tell her the exact explanation at that moment – “this is only going to take me ten more minutes”, “I understand you have to study but this is my job too”, “I have lived here and been doing this for almost five years now. I comply by all “noise laws” and I have a right to do what I’m doing”,” I understand you have to study for a test/write a paper, but I have a deadline for what I’m doing as well”. If she keeps complaining that’s on her and if she goes to management or something you’ll still end up on top because you are following all rules and being considerate of the times you do your projects. There’s no need to be rude but there’s definitely a time to be strict. You can’t keep adjusting to her schedule – that’s kind of ridiculous.

  61. Michelle says

    You’ve gotten lots of good advice so far and I agree with everyone’s analysis of your neighbor. The one thing that stands out to me is that she had the nerve to tap you on the shoulder while you were using a power tool. Maybe it was because I was raised by very handy parents and I was taught to respect power tools, but that would have been a deal-breaker for me. I think your desire to maintain a pleasant relationship with your neighbors is a good thing. And I think you will decide on a good strategy for dealing with her at this point. Later, though, if it were me, and she tried to distract me again while I used my power tools, I’d clearly and firmly let her know just exactly how much I don’t appreciate having my safety compromised (especially when, in the time it took her to interrupt you and make her complaint, you could have finished the project anyway…another point you could also make).

  62. Kimi says

    I would just keep it short and respond “No, I can’t” when she next asks if you can stop using your tools. We tend to explain everything we do because we want to be liked. You don’t have to explain or defend using your tools.
    The most I would do is hand her a pair of earplugs if she approaches you again.
    I have learned after having uncomfortable situations with my neighbors to just stay focused on my goal and keep myself a priority. If I try to be nice and keep everyone happy I always end up feeling compromised. I’m not suggesting you antagonize her, I’m just saying keep it short and don’t engage. She will likely be irritated but she was to begin with. After some time, things may get better and when they do, she will know that she must approach you with better regard.

  63. Charlotte says

    The fact that you are BLOGGING (making a living/earning income) about your renovations has NOTHING to do with the tool-noise you are making ! That noise is TOTALLY related to your home improvements and/or crafting ! You’d be making that noise whether you were blogging or not.

    The noise caused by your blogging is only the tapping of computer keys . . . hopefully, she won’t complain about that . . . will she ?

  64. Marie W says

    I think she just has no idea what your doing. Maybe you should show her all you’ve done inside your condo so that she can appreciate what your doing!! I would be in awe, because I’ll bet her condo looks closer to what yours looked like when you first moved in! =)

  65. Linda says

    Kristi, you are a lucky woman. It is very obvious from the number of responses that you are respected and well-liked. But that may be why your neighbor doesn’t have a chance of being seen as a woman or student who may be struggling to survive in college, or financially, personally, physically, or for any other reason. I agree she has some issues, but I encourage the advice you received about the HOA regulations. That will be your safety-net or your down-fall with your neighbor feeling she is not getting her way.
    Unfortunately too often I find people out for themselves, without any thought toward their neighbor (or friend or family). But that isn’t the case for you, otherwise the situation would not bother you.
    I live in an old neighborhood and pre-1940s house, no HOA involved, but for 20 years have dealt with inconsiderate neighbors. The two classics are the neighbor in a band. Guess when he and/or the band would practice, or at 2:00 a.m. when he sorted his recycling outside our bedroom window, then moved the garbage cans to the street, or started mowing the lawn. Then the other neighbor with a construction business. He used his garage to saw and hammer at ALL HOURS to prepare for the job. Then he spent over a year to completely renovate his old home into a young, hip home (that stands out like a sore thumb in an old neighborhood?!) On a daily basis I had to vacuum and dust the sawdust from my home. Unfair and unreasonable to have neighbors like this, right? But we maintained ourselves and didn’t get in their face. We would kindly ask they adjust a few things. They fortunately moved and we have fantastic neighbors now, that can change at a moment’s notice.
    There isn’t a class taught to renters or homeowners about being considerate of thy neighbor, it is just basic common sense and social skills. Not everyone is blessed with these qualifications. Just remember — Prayers do get answered, and yours will be answered too when you finally sell the condo and have your own home where you can make as much noise and dust as you want (hopefully in your own basement). Best of luck, Kristi, and keep on posting!

  66. Nora says

    This poor woman. We are only hearing your side, and everyone’s attacking her. Plus, I think it’s kind of crappy of you to post pictures of her front door in a blog.

  67. Kristina says

    Hi Kristi!

    I DO live next door, and the noise doesn’t bother me one bit (and you’re completely right about the washing machine – I was using mine once and didn’t even notice you were outside sawing away – those things are loud!!)

    I am a college student as well and moved into the complex because it was a lot quieter than dorm-living. Even so, I keep my windows open and still have no trouble sitting down and studying for as long as I need to, and you’re completely right – there are so many areas both on AND off campus to study, and from as far away as she is, she shouldn’t have a problem with the noise.

    I don’t really have too much advice in how to deal with her, but it seems like she’s just being a little overly dramatic (and this is coming from someone who completely understands her position). I would just explain what you’re doing and hopefully she’ll start to come around if she understands that you’re not just sawing simply to annoy her.

    Personally, I LIKE hearing and seeing you out there doing your projects! It gives the complex a little life in what’s otherwise a completely silent area.

  68. Amy Chai says

    I was online trying to find solutions for a neighbor who CONSTANTLY uses power tools. Leaf blowers, tractors, saws, whatever the hell he feels like using. I live on one acre. He is making my life a living hell. EVERY nice day, when I might enjoy going outdoors, he is out there with the constant drone of power tools. I am indoors right now developing a migraine. He does not work early in the am or late in the pm either. However, I am crushed and depressed and unable to concentrate or enjoy my lovely home and pool and garden. There is no reason he could not do all of his work one day a week, but he just enjoys it. He is an old guy and I have been thinking and daydreaming about him dropping dead of a heart attack. What an awful fantasy! People simply don’t understand how noise bothers others. I can feel for your neighbor. I have never complained about my neighbor. Your neighbors probably are like me, too polite to complain. Meanwhile they are online, trying to figure out how to induce a heart attack in a neighbor.

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