Showing consideration toward the neighbors may not be at the top of a project to-do list, but when one job might last six to eight months, it’s imperative.

Chris Gash

That’s what Shawn Bowman, owner of California Dream Builders, in San Jose, recognized when he developed the “Dream Neighbor Policy.”

“Construction is intrusive, loud, and noisy. If a neighbor has a complaint, there’s often no representative from a company to speak with them. We want people to know that we respect their neighborhood and privacy,” says Bowman, whose company does mid- to high-end custom work in affluent neighborhoods.

Just before a job begins, California Dream Builders sends a letter detailing the neighbor policy to the project’s surrounding neighbors. It states CDB’s pledge to “be considerate of the surrounding neighborhood; observe quiet hours of 7:30 p.m. to 6 a.m.; keep a clean workspace free of unsightly debris; make ourselves available to discuss any issues with neighbors; resolve those issues quickly.”

Then, halfway through the project, another letter goes out asking if there were any problems. And at the end of the project, a final letter is sent. “The neighbors feel comfortable talking with our employees,” Bowman says. “It has eased any tension.”

Though it took a while to get his seven employees and his subcontractors to buy into the policy, Bowman says that they are working hard to create a company vision of good service. “If you’re giving the best service,” he says, “you have to extend it out to the neighbors as well.”

He also acknowledges that the policy has set his company apart from other local remodelers and is helping to beat the stereotype of the uncaring contractor.