For nearly six months now, we’ve been living in a construction zone. When we first moved into our building in February, its eight apartments had been newly renovated, so we expected the noise and the dust to be over with. Turns out we were very wrong. A note from our landlord shortly after we moved in informed us that we should expect more noise as construction continued.
First the workers pounded away on the attic. We hoped that it was storage space that was being developed — many buildings in Zürich have attic lockers, while ours offered only a meagre amount of space in a dank cellar. But, as it turns out, the attic was to become a luxury suite, so two floors up from us, there’s now an apartment that rents for more than $4,500 per month. Yowza.
As soon as that was done, the renovation of the commercial spaces began. At the ground level of our building, there’s a bar on one side, and an Indian restaurant on the other. We live on the third floor (what you North Americans would call fourth), so it didn’t seem like these establishments would have any impact on us. But our neighbour, who lives in the other apartment on the third floor and on the bar side, reported that music and voices drift up and bother him as he’s trying to sleep (the bar’s closing time is 4am, unfortunately). I guess we’re lucky to be on the Curry House side — it’s quiet while it’s open, and other than some occasional, pleasant aromas that drifted up, we didn’t notice it at all — until they decided to renovate. This renovation has followed a typically Swiss work schedule: it can begin well before 8am, even on Saturdays. Only Sundays provide a respite.
They’re now finished the bar renovation, and the result has been pretty funny. When we first moved in, the bar was extremely kitschy: the sort with old, peeling barstools, an ancient cigarette machine, a TV forever playing WWE, and a crowd of regulars who clearly enjoyed predictability and routine (one guy, for example, seemed to have a number of Hawaiian shirts in rotation). Following the reno, the bar has slick new benches and low tables and sexy lighting, but who do you think shows up every day? Yes, the same old characters. What did the owners expect?
Anyway, for the past few months, I’ve been reading and writing to the soundtrack of drills, jackhammers, and seemingly any other tools that can make irritating noise. I wonder if, after all this time, it will feel eerily quiet once the work is done and the building is inhabited by only the residents and not by a constant parade of yelling, chain-smoking, and yes, occasionally opera-singing construction workers? It’s almost difficult, now, to envision living in a quiet building whose floors are not covered in plaster-dust footprints. But I’m thinking that it’s got to be almost over — they won’t be able to find anything else to pound on after this restaurant reno is complete, right? And happily, the sign in the restaurant’s window says that this will be in early August, which is just in time for our trip to Canada.