Anyone ever live near a home construction project?

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ryuns
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Anyone ever live near a home construction project?

Post by ryuns »

If so, what were your experiences? How close were you?

One of our favorite neighborhoods we're looking at is adjacent to a large Union Pacific railyard, which finally got a green light from the City to undergo redevelopment, likely beginning construction early 2012. The project, academically, looks pretty good--a park in the middle, mixed uses, and the neighborhood associations fought hard to make it compatible with and acceptable for the surrounding areas. Still, it's a big project.

One place in particular we're looking at directly abuts the project. It would have a row of single family houses behind it, then a 10 acre park beyond that. That may be out of the question since I work from home (currently), but I'd still be interested in anyone's experience being near any type of construction project. Also, in terms of purchasing a house, would you consider that a good bargaining piece to try to get a good deal? The house is gorgeous and on the pricey side of what we're looking for.

Big thanks in advance,
Ryan
An inconvenience is only an adventure wrongly considered; an adventure is an inconvenience rightly considered. -- GK Chesterton
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Taylor Larimore
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# 1 Rule

Post by Taylor Larimore »

Hi ryuns:

The number one rule in real estate:

Location, location, location.
"Simplicity is the master key to financial success." -- Jack Bogle
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ryuns
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Re: # 1 Rule

Post by ryuns »

Taylor Larimore wrote:Hi ryuns:

The number one rule in real estate:

Location, location, location.
Taylor,

As always, your replies are the Occam's Razor of the Bogleheads forum.
An inconvenience is only an adventure wrongly considered; an adventure is an inconvenience rightly considered. -- GK Chesterton
grberry
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Post by grberry »

I bought and have lived near construction projects, mostly Harvard's. The first couple were removals of unused buildings. This was a minor benefit. Then they started tearing down some other buildings to build a new science complex with underground parking garage. After they had the hole in the ground, the 2008 crash happened and Harvard was caught without adequate liquidity. So, instead of building the new construction, they finished the parking garage back to ground level and closed it off. There is no current estimate for when construction will resume. All in all, this has not been a net benefit. But it also hasn't had a serious negative impact either.
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ryuns
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Post by ryuns »

grberry wrote:I bought and have lived near construction projects, mostly Harvard's. The first couple were removals of unused buildings. This was a minor benefit. Then they started tearing down some other buildings to build a new science complex with underground parking garage. After they had the hole in the ground, the 2008 crash happened and Harvard was caught without adequate liquidity. So, instead of building the new construction, they finished the parking garage back to ground level and closed it off. There is no current estimate for when construction will resume. All in all, this has not been a net benefit. But it also hasn't had a serious negative impact either.
And was the noise/dust/construction worker profanity an issue? Maybe they're more civilized at Harvard ;)
An inconvenience is only an adventure wrongly considered; an adventure is an inconvenience rightly considered. -- GK Chesterton
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Taylor Larimore
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Short posts are often the most difficult

Post by Taylor Larimore »

ryuns wrote:
Taylor Larimore wrote:Hi ryuns:

The number one rule in real estate:

Location, location, location.
Taylor,

As always, your replies are the Occam's Razor of the Bogleheads forum.
Hi ryuns:

Occams Razor: "If you have two equally likely solutions to a problem, choose the simplest."

My shortest posts usually take the most thought to compose.
"Simplicity is the master key to financial success." -- Jack Bogle
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ryuns
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Re: Short posts are often the most difficult

Post by ryuns »

Taylor Larimore wrote:
ryuns wrote:
Taylor Larimore wrote:Hi ryuns:

The number one rule in real estate:

Location, location, location.
Taylor,

As always, your replies are the Occam's Razor of the Bogleheads forum.
Hi ryuns:

Occams Razor: "If you have two equally likely solutions to a problem, choose the simplest."

My shortest posts usually take the most thought to compose.
Indeed, and it is the wisdom in brevity that I most enjoy. (I should say that "parsimony" is probably a more appropriate term to use than Occam's Razor in this case.)

Cheers,
Ryan
An inconvenience is only an adventure wrongly considered; an adventure is an inconvenience rightly considered. -- GK Chesterton
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Taylor Larimore
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Simplicity

Post by Taylor Larimore »

Hi Ryan:

I actually put a lot of thought behind my "location, location, location" reply to you. We have lived in over a dozen homes and invested in income real estate most of our lives. My wife was president of the Coral Gables Board of Realtors.

My first thought was to give you a convoluted Reply based on our experience and knowledge (we once made the mistake of buying near a meat rendering plant).

My second, (and better) thought, was "location, location, location."

Mr. Bogle often speaks of "Occam's Razor." I chose its lesson for my signature below.
"Simplicity is the master key to financial success." -- Jack Bogle
retcaveman
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Post by retcaveman »

We have lived right next to residential construction and extension of the road we lived on. Again acknowledging I am describing residential construction, issues were noise from heavy constuction equipment, dust, dirt/mud on the finished road, hammering and compressor noise and some wind blown debris blown into our yard.

While not ideal, it wasn't that big of a deal. Don't believe it had any affect on the value of our property. We knew it was going to be done at some point when we built our home.

Good luck.
"The wants of mortals are containers that can never be filled." (Socrates)
paulsiu
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Post by paulsiu »

I would definitely use it as a bargaining chip because it creates uncertainty. It may improve things, but the construction could also stop because it runs out of funding.

Consider this worse case scenario. The land near my previous dentist was a nice forest of trees. A developer purchased it to create high end housing. They run out of money so that my dentist now sits next to a giant mud pit.

Paul
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Post by btenny »

Well I would be very careful buying near a rail yard. Diesel engines are very noisy and polluting and the RRs have a long history of ignoring local town issues and complaints. RRs also have the worst polluting engines and burn the worst oil around. The smell is very bad and I suspect dangerous. The RRs view their rights as grandfathered (and so do the courts) versus their new neighbors so they will do what they want when they want and ignore any local issues.

Now to your question. I have lived near new construction twice. Once we lived in a new subdivision when I bought the 4-5th new house and they built new homes down my street (but not next door) and the next street over. The noise was non-stop and started whenever the workers felt like making noise. Think 12 midnight to start a generator to power some tools because that is when they wanted to work. Think regular dusty cars and junk lying in the street. Think regular flat tires due to nails in the street. Think constant pounding and sawing and so forth. The overall experience was tolerable because we were young and worked all day and we finally got neighbors.

Then a few years ago we lived next door to a vacant lot that got a house built on it while we lived there. The building lot was 5 feet from my front door (California beach lot). The experience was a disaster. We had police and inspectors out to the lot regularly. The builder tried to build on our property. We had to get the inspector to red tag them to stop them from building too close. They tried to get the inspectors to cut downs our trees that blocked some of their views. The did illegally cut down a neighbors tree before anyone figured out what they were doing. They put ladders on our walk and blocked out entry regularly. They ran generators at 6AM even with local work rules of 8AM and calls to the police. They played their radios ultra loud so they could hear the crazy music over their tools. We had a port-a-potty right next to our front driveway with its associated smells. When ever they got materials delived the big trucks and cranes and so forth blocked out street completely. The police attitude was basically that these guys need to work and make a living so they let the workers bend the rules as needed. You get the idea. It was mess and bad news for 6-7 months and then when they were finished we had a giant house with over hangs that ended up 4 feet from our garage.......

We moved.
Bill
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Post by grberry »

ryuns wrote:
grberry wrote:I bought and have lived near construction projects, mostly Harvard's. The first couple were removals of unused buildings. This was a minor benefit. Then they started tearing down some other buildings to build a new science complex with underground parking garage. After they had the hole in the ground, the 2008 crash happened and Harvard was caught without adequate liquidity. So, instead of building the new construction, they finished the parking garage back to ground level and closed it off. There is no current estimate for when construction will resume. All in all, this has not been a net benefit. But it also hasn't had a serious negative impact either.
And was the noise/dust/construction worker profanity an issue? Maybe they're more civilized at Harvard ;)
Dust and traffic were issues. For the hole in the ground, the neighborhood negotiated with the city well enough to get some mitigation. Having a Harvard paid street sweeper sweep and wash the streets around the project continually during project hours, and wheel washing for vehicles leaving the project site kept the dust down to reasonable levels. Traffic was mitigated by adding a traffic light and requiring the construction traffic to use the main roads, not the neighborhood roads.

Noise was from my perspective a non-issue. Wooden construction fencing and the bulk of the work being performed below ground level go a long way to limit noise. When they build above ground, I expect more noise.
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Post by PaddyMac »

Do you have small children? Have you researched the types of pollution that the railyard produces? They have to have official studies to stay in business, I would imagine. Then you can research the effect of those fumes.

I know that studies have shown that schools located near freeway ramps shows the hazard of diesel fumes on learning ability.
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magellan
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Re: Short posts are often the most difficult

Post by magellan »

Taylor Larimore wrote:My shortest posts usually take the most thought to compose.
This reminds me of a quote that I always liked by Blaise Pascal:
Wikiquote wrote:* Je n'ai fait celle-ci plus longue que parce que je n'ai pas eu le loisir de la faire plus courte.
o I would have written a shorter letter, but I did not have the time.
o Source: Provincial Letters: Letter XVI (English Translation)
o Literally: I made this [letter] very long, because I did not have the leisure to make it shorter.
o Such statements have also been attributed to Mark Twain, T.S. Eliot, Cicero, and others besides.
Jim
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Post by camper »

I bought in a new subdivision almost 4 years ago.
It was quite loud during construction of the neighbors houses. It was summer time in Tucson so the workers get started before dawn. We had to plug many tires due to nails and staples being in the street.
With that said, after construction was complete, it was nice living in a brand new area. Everything is new and well-kept. How long that lasts depends on the owners and HOA. So far so good.
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Post by tim1999 »

If I bought that house I would immediately plant a privacy barrier on the rear lot line, as it will take years to grow in well. Some kind of arborvitae, spruce trees, etc. Some people would suggest a privacy fence, but I think they're ugly, and my area isn't like some in the midwest where every single person in a subdivision fences their yard on 3 sides.
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Post by Kenkat »

I am assuming you mean the rail yard is closing down and going to be re-developed, correct? If not, then no, I wouldn't buy near a rail yard. If yes...

When we built our house 12 years ago, it was in a new development. We were house number #8 of #19 total to be built. Although there were a few inconveniences, it was also interesting and overall, not that big a deal.

There were the typical negatives - occasional hammering at 7am, dust, etc. - but also some unexpected positives:

1. Tours of the "new" houses - usually after a couple of beers with the neighbors in the driveway
2. One time, the construction workers behind us were burning some trash and left and it got out of control, filled the neighborhood with smoke and we called the fire department. The kids loved that!
3. My kids built a big camp in our woods from extra construction supplies and had a great summer of fun. My wife was less than thrilled the day the construction foreman knocked on the door and said "your kids are taking our construction supplies..."
4. Don't under-estimate the value of a construction dumpster on site. Sometimes in the summer when you'd get a particularly bad diaper, it was worth the walk, believe me.
5. New houses mean new friends and new kids for your kids to play with.
6. It's actually kind of interesting to watch the work progress.
7. Eventually the construction is complete and you are left with a nice, new area to live in.
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Post by Beth »

Definitely go to the city/county dept of planning and ask about "brownfields remediation" that may have to be done there before construction begins. Depending on what they tell you, research the pollution history further. It may rise to the level where the realtor has an affirmative duty to disclose a material fact about environmental hazards at the site that abuts the property you are interested in. Such material info may justify a downward adjustment of asking price or cause you to walk away. Proximity to past/present polluted sites, remediated or not, can stigmatize a property forever. Personally, I could not tolerate the noise, dirt, traffic, etc during the construction phase. I suspect I'd have buyer's remorse that would forever overshadow any thrill I got initially at buying into an area I'd always had my eye on. But that's just me. Good luck. Regards, Beth
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Post by exigent »

Construction is noisy and dirty, but temporary (more or less). If you like the area and if you like what they're building, then go for it. If not, then don't. Of course, the risk is that they'll get halfway through the build out and then go bankrupt, which could be awful, so weigh that in your decision.

FWIW, our first house was in an unfinished subdivision. We bought in 2003 and it built out very quickly. It was vey invasive while it happened, as they were building houses 20-30 feet away on either side. But we loved the neighborhood and are glad we lived there. Conversely, I now see unfinished subdivisions everywhere and feel very bad for those stuck in them.

Obviously, this is a conflicted answer. Nobody can tell you what to do, and nobody knows the details like you do. Just trying to give you some food for thought.
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ryuns
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Post by ryuns »

Thank you all for the light rail.

Sorry I didn't clarify sooner. The railyard is largely non-operational and the tracks, which are still used by Union Pacific and the city's light rail mass transit, are on the far side of the impending redevelopment. So I don't expect any issues with locomotive travel or pollution, just the construction associated with the mixed use redevelopment.

Beth, thanks for the note about environmental hazards. It's well-established that there is a lot of toxic soil around the current property and the developer has agreed to be very careful about remediating the area. Most of the soil is going to a haz waste site in Utah, with less contaminated soil getting buried under the roads. I had not considered the adjacency to a brownfield to be a considerable and lost-lasting black mark on the property (and I have a degree in environmental studies!).

Thanks again. Some horror stories but a lot of "ends justifying the means", which is encouraging.

Best,
Ryan
An inconvenience is only an adventure wrongly considered; an adventure is an inconvenience rightly considered. -- GK Chesterton
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Post by Watty »

Beware of buying near any undeveloped property. The problem is that you may like the current plans for it but these can change a lot.

When my parents bought house their house the subdivision bordered a private golf course and driving range so of course the lots next to the gold course golf for a premium. (not my parents lot) About 20 years later the city bought the golf course and put the municipal pool in where the driving range was so that the people that lived next to that got to listen to the pool, and P.A. system all summer long.

Greg
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Post by likegarden »

Several higher-end homes were built on the acres behind my house. I do not remember any noise or problems we had with that. But I would recommend that you know their plans and the layout of the land (elevation map) of the new development. In my case it looked like that one house would be placed exactly on top of a drainage ditch which is needed to drain the backyards of several houses. I went to the town planning department and the Army Corps of Engineers. Now that house has a 'moat' in front of it with a 2 ft dia pipe under their driveway and we all have good drainage, such as after a rain on frozen ground, and my house continues to have a dry basement.
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Post by sommerfeld »

other things to consider:

1) if your area has bedrock near the surface, expect blasting during construction. Generally not a big deal but it can be startling.

2) sometimes large development projects stall out mid-way through, leaving things in a rather incomplete, unsightly, etc., state. Not exactly the best of neighbors. Do they actually have money to finish construction?

3) there is a push at present to develop high speed passenger rail in the US. (N.B. whether or not this is a good idea is very much an off topic political side discussion). If you're considering buying property near a seemingly abandoned or lightly-used rail right of way, you should consider that it may well get busier in the future...
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