Case of the bedroom-viewing balcony a misunderstanding, homeowner says

Case of the bedroom-viewing balcony a misunderstanding, homeowner says

Wondering how much trouble repairing an old deck can cause, just ask two High Park-area neighbours.

Mary Jane Crawford and her neighbour, Stephen Bradley, are now trying to make light of a misunderstanding that dragged Bradley and his Indian Road house into the spotlight after Crawford discovered an audience looking towards her bedroom window from a second-floor deck at Bradley’s house.

The awkward situation sparked a social media firestorm and garnered visits from reporters and city building officials after Crawford, who lives in second-floor apartment neighbouring Bradley’s home, posted a picture Tuesday of the balcony, with two chairs and no railing, on Reddit with the heading: “My neighbours built a deck that looks directly into my bedroom.”

Crawford told the Star that about a month or two ago what was once a platform without railings became a viewing deck for the contractors.

“There were no chairs and then one day there were chairs,” Crawford said.

She said there had been men, who she described as contractors, out on the platform while “she’s in various forms of undress” in her bedroom.

“There are guys staring back at me from these chairs,” she said. “They’re sitting there, taking a break from whatever they’re doing in the house … we’ll make eye contact and I will close my blinds.”

Since she made the post, it has racked up more than 3,000 comments with many Reddit users speculating it wasn’t a legal renovation, while others hinted at ways to tear it down.

Thinking the deck was a new construction, it prompted her to notify the city, who sent a building inspector to the home Thursday and found an existing deck was in the process of being reconstructed without a permit.

A city spokesperson said the inspector issued an “order requiring the property to stop work and obtain a building permit for the construction.”

Reached by phone Friday, Bradley said it’s a big misunderstanding, adding he’s sympathetic to Crawford’s concerns.

He explained he purchased the property in 1981 and added the deck during some renovations in 1987. The original version had a railing with a wooden screen.

A photo from homeowner Stephen Bradley of the original deck, before renovations began. He promises to put privacy screens on the newly reconstructed deck.

He hadn’t used the deck in years, but when he recently decided to start renovating the property the contractor advised him the deck needed a facelift because the wood railings had deteriorated.

The old wood was removed to make way for a more durable replacement.

He said he wasn’t aware anyone would be out on the deck.

“I noticed that the contractors had put a few chairs out there,” he said. “They must have been going out there on their breaks.

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Crawford said Friday she’s pleased the city issued a warning for the work, and said there will be no bad blood as a result.

“I don’t begrudge them for wanting a deck,” she said, adding she hopes Bradley installs proper privacy screens.

Bradley said he visited city hall Friday to get information on how to get a building permit, and is pondering “what kind of screen to put up.”

“I would like to find a way to address it,” he said of the deck issue. “If it gets too expensive, I will just pull it down.”

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