There are few construction projects without neighbors. Construction activities usually disrupt neighborhood peace and quiet. Also add traffic congestion and very noisy and large equipment to the mix of annoyances. Local businesses lose customer parking to construction workers and deliveries.
Here are smart ways to make your project a good neighbor.
Any thorough project estimate should include plans for dealing with mobilization and demobilization. That means you should figure out how workers and deliveries will get to the site and how this will affect the neighborhood. If you leave these details unaddressed before the project starts, you get situations like those in Denver, Albuquerque and Sewickley, Pennsylvania.
Denver now requires off-site parking plans for construction sites. However, there was no grandfather clause to cover construction projects that had already been underway when the rule took effect. In cases where the city didn’t allow any slack, construction companies had to face the additional costs of implementing these plans. Meanwhile, construction workers struggled with moving tools and equipment from five blocks away.
In Albuquerque, a second-year law student filed a lawsuit against a construction company that was working near the University of New Mexico. The student’s complaint centered on lifestyle and health issues caused by the clouds of dust stirred up by the construction activities. Meanwhile, in Sewickley, retailers are upset about the effects of construction congestion on their businesses. They want the borough to require construction projects with more than five employees to have off-site parking.
Start With A Plan Dealing With Construction Project Congestion
Whether the local governing authority requires it or not, having a plan for lowering the impact of your activities on the local community can pay big dividends. When you know you’ll be working in a congested area, or there won’t be enough parking directly on site, make plans before the construction project starts. Get out the local maps and plan how people will get to work, where they’ll park and how equipment and materials will arrive.
Few workers will like having to carpool or grab a shuttle from a carpark to the site, but you can come up with ways to take the sting out of it. For one, if using a shuttle system, besides having regularly scheduled runs, allow on-call and reserved trips. That way, people will be able to get to their private vehicles when they need them for appointments or emergencies. Use a shuttle with ample room for both people and tools.
In your estimate, you’ll need to account for the cost of a shuttle, insurance, driver and employee time. Instead of employees bearing the cost of getting to work, you’ll be footing the bill from the time they park until they get on the job.
If not using a shuttle, you might set up truck-pooling from a local park and ride lot. Or, maybe a nearby empty lot or low-use property could serve as your truck pooling location.
Consider setting up a separate entrance to the job for materials and equipment deliveries. If space is at a premium, limit on-site storage and arrange for nearby offsite storage for subs.
Plan For Dust and Noise Controls
- You can solve many of the issues related to dust and noise by using engineering and administrative controls:
- Establish unacceptable limits for noise and dust. Make those limits known to project participants.
- Provide lists of noise and dust-producing activities along with suggested ways to minimize their effects.
- Require, or have available, dust suppression equipment for use during earthwork and demolition.
- Schedule noisy work during the hours when it will have the least effect on the neighborhood.
- Use enclosures with sound-dampening components for jackhammer and other localized noise producers.
- Outfit dust-producing tools with water suppression or vacuum extraction.
- Require notifications from project participants when they expect noise or dust to exceed acceptable limits.
Communicate With the Neighbors About Your Construction Project
When people lack information about what’s going on, they will make up their own stories. You will undoubtedly be cast as the villain. You have the opportunity to make sure they have the right stories, but in order to do it, you have to communicate with them.
Consider establishing a neighborhood liaison to inform the local population about the construction project’s activities and to answer questions and complaints. Post contact phone number and email on the construction project sign. Send mailers alerting people about construction project duration, what to expect and how to track the construction project through its milestones.
Establish an online presence where you can provide regular updates on particularly noisy or dusty activities. Tell how you are controlling congestion, and keep people informed on your results. If you have prevented 500 vehicles from using the local streets, that’s great news! It shows you are doing your part to be a good neighbor.