West of Chicago wrote: ↑Sat May 02, 2020 7:56 am
Our neighbors are about to begin construction on a two-story addition to the back of their house. Our houses are less than 6 feet apart and my air conditioner is next to the site of the addition.
Their contractor sent the following “Property Access Acknowledgement” for us to sign.
I acknowledge that I am the owner of the neighboring property listed above and am aware of the proposed work being done at the Project Address.
I am giving my permission to the (CONTRACTOR) team and crews to access my property for installation of the proposed work. It will remain my responsibility to provide a safe work area for the workers until the work is complete.
The owners of the Project Address will communicate with me regarding logistics and scheduling of work on my property, unless other arrangements are made.
(CONTRACTOR) will take all reasonable care to protect the construction access areas to a reasonable level.
(CONTRACTOR) will take full responsibility to assure that my property is kept free of construction debris and cleaned up at the end of each work day.
This seems like a blank check for the contractor to do whatever they want whenever they want on our property. I also feel like the line “It will remain my responsibility to provide a safe work area for the workers until the work is complete” opens us up to liability. And there seems to be no way to hold the contractor accountable for any damage to our property.
I’d like to be a good neighbor, but there is no way I am going to sign anything like this.
My neighbor has been vague on the particulars and offered to give me the contact info for the project leader. I worry that a document that would be acceptable to us would require legal review.
Does anyone have experience with a situation like this?
Any and all advice is appreciated.
As a builder/GC and R/E Developer for many decades, I've been on both sides of this issue too many times.
It can go smoothly with happy neighbors on both sides who become close friends.
Or. . . it can go horribly wrong.
(the following missive is based on #2)
Odds are 50/50 for either.
1. The line about "you" responsible to provide a safe work area is dead wrong.
2. There needs to be a line that your property will be restored to original condition after the work is done.
3. There needs to be a line that the "contractor" is responsible for your safety, to protect your home with adequate measures (coverings, plywood sheets, waddles for erosion runoff, damage to your home is scaffolding hits the wall, and what happens if equipment like a mini excavator or man lift is brought through that narrow opening, such as hitting your roof).
4. The contractor and the owner each needs to assume liability. There must be some way of ensuring that you will be "paid" and things will be corrected if things go wrong, so you don't have to go to court to get squared away.
5. Right now, any small "contract" like what you present between you and the contractor and/or owner is inadequate and somewhat unenforceable. IE: if the contractor has no money and time to fix what he damages, ie: your AC unit, then that's that. You'll have to chase it down.
Suggestions and considerations:
1. In Hawaii, and other high density areas, homes are very close together, sometimes 6-8 feet between rooflines, sometimes shared easements. Permission to access and logistics is very very common. Sometimes, contractors will erect fences with solid plywood walls on both sides or at least on the neighbor's side to protect everything. With such narrow ingress/egress, especially on long term jobs like this 2 story addition, the possiblity of damage is very high. It happens. Everyone's working hard and not paying attention.
2. If this was a one shot deal like access to bring in utilities or something like that, then it might be okay, with the proper liablity assumption and physical measures.
3. But, on a 2 story addition behind a home (have done many of these in situations like this), the scope is much larger and for longer term. (I have actually hired a crane to transport the bulk of materials to the back of a home rather than go between a narrow passage between homes, it went smoothly).
4. A lot depends on your relationship dynamics with the owner. Do you have a relationship (friendship, real one) that you can "trust", or is it more courteous and perfunctory? And, would it bother you if things got icy because the neighbor "didn't get what they wanted from you" which is human nature?
5. Maybe. You can allow specific access for only certain things at one specific time. Such as: the week of such and such at these hours or for one specific delivery, for a specific fee plus a contract for assumption of any and all liability and damages such as restoring your lawn, etc. So you mitigate risk with degree and duration of use and purpose. The disadvantage of this is opportunistic. Once you say yes for one thing then you open the door for more and then if you say no you’re still the bad guy.
Thoughts : IMHO:
1. With a 6 foot passageway and a large long term project like a 2 story addition, and your apparent concerns, I would not give permission. And, I would have an attorney draft a notice of such and give it to the owner and the builder if needed.
Why? You have a lot to lose by giving permission as far as risk and liability (someone gets hurt on your property), and no gain, zero.
2. Your neighbor's 2 story addition is not your project nor your concern. Don't make it so. Many do to "be a nice guy or liked". You don't have to if you don't want to. No obligations here.
You can be made to feel like there is no other way to get the neighbor's project done except through that 6' passageway. There likely are other ways. The other side. The back. Up and over.
3. It doesn't matter what is written on an agreement nor how large the damage amounts or fees are. If something goes wrong and you have to chase down solutions, it just turns really really bad. As in, "RBD".
4. A builder and owner is also liable for your property damage even if they don’t access your property and should take protection measures; IE falling or flying debris, paint spray, concrete dust, waddles for erosion runoff from rain or jobsite washdown, roofing nails that roll off onto your property (big one!!), rubbish, fumes and chemicals, etc.
Also noise and street parking intrusion only during reasonable work hours and days, etc.
Real life examples:
1. Mini excavator caves in garage wall during installation of main power lateral. (no plywood walls and fence put up prior to access).
2. Scaffolding falls against neighbor's fence and takes it down.
3. Worker's garbage, lunch debris, a persistent problem. Worker's hang out for breaks and lunch in the cool shade of passageway.
4. Erosion, mud, buckets of stucco mix splashed on neighbor's walls.
5. Edge of roof of neighbor's house smashed in.
6. etc, etc, etc.
*** I have often turned down these types of construction projects because the logistics and scope of work was just too large a "can of worms". Many contractors won't touch this type of thing for no amount of profit.
I hope this is helpful to you.
PM me as you wish.