Written by Panorama resident, Deb Ross. January 2016.
Like many other Panorama residents, my spouse and I moved here from a single family home. We lived on a 2 ½ acre lot, surrounded on three sides by woods and wetland. The Panorama neighborhood we moved into, Holladay Park, is one of the densest on campus, with a tightly knit, actively social group of neighbors. From our duplex patio and back windows we can see several other folks’ patios and into their living areas. Worrywart that I am, I wondered what the rules of etiquette for privacy are in my new surroundings. So I decided to solicit opinions from other residents. Here are some FAQ’s (Frequently Asked Questions) and some FWBUAQs (Frequently Wondered But Unasked Questions), with answers provided by an unscientific poll of my wise friends and neighbors. I’d welcome feedback and advice on any of these or other “privacy etiquette” questions.
Q: If I am out on my patio, and I see a neighbor on her patio, should I say hi, or pretend she is not there, in order to respect her privacy? A: Say hi! My consultants agreed that it is ruder to “respect their privacy” than to say a friendly hello.
Q: Should I call a neighbor ahead of time if I want to visit, or should I feel free to drop over? A: Unless you are very close friends, or your neighbor says it’s OK just to drop by, it’s best to call ahead of time.
Q: What can my neighbor hear on the other side of my duplex/triplex/apartment wall? A: Experience may vary on this. Our duplex has well-insulated walls and our next door neighbor can’t hear sounds through the walls. On the other hand, he can hear – or perhaps more accurately, feel – us through the floorboards if we tread heavily. Others have told me they don’t hear a thing from their neighbors. When in doubt, ask your neighbor for an honest assessment of what noises can be heard.
Q: I’m a newbie and am thinking about asking for a privacy fence. Should I have one installed? A: Express your concerns and needs so staff can help you develop a plan that will work for the home you’ve chosen. Once a plan has been approved, you can ask to take some time living in your new home before the privacy panel is installed in case you decide it won’t be needed. We ultimately decided against it as it would have blocked sunlight and we are less hung up about privacy than when we first moved in. There are several options, including landscaping alternatives, and Panorama staff are great about working with you to find a good fit. We are unlikely to face the following problem: