Many people living in condos or apartments are either considering buying their unit or have recently purchased the property. One of the important considerations buyers concern themselves with is the proximity to their balcony neighbor’s unit.
Some people fear that someone will be able to hear or see what happens on the balcony, and some people worry about a confrontation or even an argument.
What is the ideal proximity I should anticipate between my balcony and my neighbor‘s unit? Under the laws of most states, the recommended maximum distance for a balcony to project into the front yard is 6 feet from the face of the building if the front yard is less than 12 feet wide.
Understanding the ideal distance between balconies will help renters or buyers make an informed decision. Below is a guide for understanding balcony proximity laws and standards.
What is the minimum area for a balcony?
An exterior balcony’s depth may measure at least 1.5 feet. That’s mainly the case with Juliet balconies, but only sometimes.
However, an outdoor balcony typically requires a depth of 4 feet and a length of 9 feet to accommodate a comfortable outdoor seating area.
The balcony must also support the weight of the occupants, furniture, and any overhang from the upper floor.
How close should I expect my balcony neighbor’s unit to be?
Expect your neighbors‘ balcony to project at most 8 feet into the rear yard where your house may be located or other open space for comfortable usage.
That’s the maximum reasonable distance that an exterior balcony may safely extend required by the New York City Zoning Resolution.
For residential buildings with a front yard less than 12 feet deep, the recommended maximum distance that a balcony may project into the front yard is 6 feet from the face of the building.
Any balcony that extends further than that must be approved by the Board of Standards and Appeals (BSA).
Is there a standard guideline for proximity between balconies?
The Code prohibits exterior walls from being closer than 10 feet to any neighboring unit or structure.
This is the required fire-resistance rating according to the NYC building code.
It also applies to exterior balconies.
Other regulations may require a different fire-resistance rating; check with a building official.
Are there any other architectural considerations for balcony proximity?
Yes. Balconies should conform to the authoritative guidance from the local authorities as part of the building’s exterior style.
According to the standards of most compliance regulatory bodies, quality and functionality are at the core of the overall design, both for balconies and other building elements.
Below are a few examples of the building guidelines that are commonly applied to balcony construction:
1. Design standards
Considering the wind effects, service life, and structural stability, the balcony design should meet the engineering principles and safety requirements for comfortable and convenient use.
These also include:
- fire resistance
2. Adaptability standards
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, people have had to adjust to living, working, and learning from home.
Accommodating changes or alterations, such as balconies suitable for home offices and other workspaces, can help promote healthy and productive work environments or living arrangements.
3. Indoor environmental quality standards
Indoor airflow, affected by balconies, can impact thermal and air quality.
Balconies play a part in controlling the indoor environment by allowing cool, fresh air in, increasing indoor daylight, and mitigating the effects of seasonal allergens and pollutants from indoors.
Is it common for balconies to share a common wall with neighboring units?
Yes. Balconies can share a common wall with adjacent condos or apartment units.
Yet they are considered common areas due to their location on the facade of the building.
As such, they must be maintained in accordance with the building’s bylaws, proprietary lease, HOA association rules, and general landlord or property manager obligations.
How does the proximity of balconies impact the overall sense of community in a building?
Knowing your neighbors are nearby makes you feel safer on your balcony.
Plus, you can get to know them by interacting and sharing information at events and gatherings in the building.
Multi-family dwellings have a social component lost when units are too far apart.
Balconies are the most common and recognizable element in their design that enables residents to build connections.
Are there any best practices for maintaining a harmonious relationship with balcony neighbors in close setups?
Yes, courtesy and civility are key to maintaining a harmonious relationship with your balcony neighbors.
That’s especially true in dense, urban environments where everybody is trying to get along.
So, while trying to be mindful of noise and respecting their boundaries, make an effort to have the following neighborly behaviors:
- Address concerns politely and promptly
- Be courteous and seek to be considerate of your neighbors’ comfort and enjoyment
- Follow safety protocols regarding any potentially dangerous situations
- Don’t take advantage of your balcony neighbors’ goodwill toward you
- Don’t do or say anything that could be perceived as offensive or hostile
- Maintain the exterior of your unit in an orderly and clean condition, including balconies and common areas
What are the potential issues with a balcony neighbor’s unit being too close?
Most of the time, the distance issue isn’t a big deal.
But, it can occasionally be a source of complaints or disputes between neighbors in some close-set spaces.
For example, if your neighbor’s unit is so close that you can hear the TV from your unit or vice versa, you may consider extra soundproofing to reduce the impact on your unit.
Other issues that can arise include:
- reduced amount of natural light in your unit depending on the sun’s path throughout the day
- blocked views or a sense of enclosure
- security concerns and loss of privacy
- decreased or unavailable air circulation in your unit