Noisy neighbours can be a real problem and sometimes we may feel at the end of our tether with them. They may not be even purposely causing a commotion, but you can hear every conversation, footstep and what they are watching on TV.
Some of the biggest disputes we have with our neighbours stem from noise. You can of course take legal action, but this may not be something you wish to do as not all of our neighbours are not being a deliberate nuisance.
However, in today’s close living society, it can become overwhelming even with the nicest people living next door to us. So what can we do to restore some peace in our lives?
Talk with your neighbours
It may sound like an obvious solution, but it is usually a good idea to actually talk to your neighbours about the issue. Some people just don’t realise that they are being loud or annoying and most will want to resolve the issue in a calm way. This can sometimes resolve the problem without need for further action.
Of course timing is everything with this talk. For example, if they are having a party, they may be less inclined to listen.
Try to catch them over the fence or in a neutral area, say the park, to initiate the conversation. Knocking on their door may feel a little awkward and even intimidating. Always try to remain calm and reasonable with your approach rather than being confrontational about it.
Try to have examples of times they were excessively noisy and how this affected you. Again not in an accusatory way but rather explain how it affected you. For example, rather than saying “You kept me awake until 3am”, you could try, “I had real difficulty in sleeping because of the noise that night”.
Another good thing to do is have some suggestions for solutions on how to fix the problem. Maybe they are practicing their guitar late at night, so you could ask that they perhaps plug in headphones. Or if they are planning on having a party, perhaps they could forewarn you. Or if they have bare floors, you could ask them to lay down a carpet or rug to reduce the noise.
Only approach your neighbours if you feel it is safe to do so. If you are unsure, it may be a good idea to have a family member or friend with you when you do so.
Soundproofing your room/home
If it is a consistent noise and something that requires a more long-term solution, you may consider soundproofing. Now there is little likelihood that you will be able to completely block all sound, but with a few simple steps, you could dramatically reduce the impact of the noise pollution.
Firstly look at your doors. Having solid rather than hollow doors internally will act as a greater barrier to the sound that travels through them. Draft proofing and sealing any gaps around the doors with sound proof seals is another way to reduce the noise. Do this on external and internal doors for maximum effect.
Making sure your windows are properly sealed and have double glazing that is effective is also something to look at. It can be expensive to replace all your windows, but maybe there is some damage around the edges that can be fixed.
Sound travels by bouncing off of hard surfaces and getting through any gaps. So the use of soft fabrics can help to deaden the sound and stop it from bouncing around so much. Thick curtains will help around windows. Rugs and carpets and soft furnishings strategically placed will all help, but there are more effective measures.
As mentioned above, sound only needs the smallest of gaps to travel through, so make sure you fix any holes or gaps in your walls. These can include ventilation grates, electrical sockets, pipes and of course your windows and doors.
Professional noise reduction solutions
According to Mike from Noise Stop Systems “For a better sound proofing solution, you could try using acoustic panels on party walls.” These can be added over your existing wall or inside the stud wall. You can even use these panels on your ceilings and floors if the noise is coming from all angles.
If you live in a flat and have noisy neighbours above or below you, then there are other options you could try for a more effective approach to noise reduction. There are acoustic underlays available which go under your carpet or flooring. Acoustic insulation can be applied to floors and ceilings. Or you could use a floating floor or ceiling with the insulation built in.
The best thing to do is to talk to a sound proofing expert who can advise you on the right product for you. You will usually find that a combination of products work best to reduce the noise. You don’t want to spend out on something, only to discover that you still hear the majority of the noise you were trying to block out.
The last resort should be getting the council or lawyers involved. This can cause a lot of unnecessary tension and make living next to your neighbours very uncomfortable. The council may help, but your complaints could lead to a court case. So be very sure before you go down this route that you have done all you can to ease the issue.