How to be a Quiet Neighbour
Okay, we’ve talked about what to do if you have a noisy neighbour (click here to read our comprehensive blog post), but what if you’re the noisy neighbour?
You could be noisy neighbour if you:
- play your music or television too loud
- keep unusual hours and are up and about the house when your neighbours are sleeping
- are bit of a DIY enthusiast
- like to host regular get-togethers with friends and family
- have your own home gymnasium or use (for example) free weights
- fancy yourself a bit of a Jimi Hendrix or Keith Moon
- are the owner of an ‘expressive’ dog
If you’re guilty of any of the above or other similar acoustic transgressions, you may want to take action. Here’s a few things you can do.
LOUD TV AND MUSIC
Turn It Down!
If your audio-visual entertainment system is generally turned up to eleven, not only could you be precipitating a breakdown in relations with your next door neighbour, you could be damaging your hearing. There are many free apps (for example, the NIOSH Sound Level Meter) which will alert you to the fact that you are exposing yourself to excessive levels of noise.
The obvious solution is to simply turn down the volume, but if you’ve grown accustomed to louder volume, you may find you struggle to hear the new levels of output properly. Not a huge problem when you’re listening to music, but it can spoil your enjoyment of your favourite TV shows or movies.
To avoid this ‘kill joy’ effect, you could try turning the volume down very slightly each day over a period of a week or two. With these slight incremental decreases, you should find you don’t really notice the difference and gradually acclimatise yourself to less hazardous and antisocial listening habits.
If the ‘baby steps’ approach doesn’t appeal, you could try investing in some surround sound speaker. Having a more immersive sound system could mean you can take the overall volume down.
Or why not simply switch on the subtitles? Academic pundits are always telling us we don’t read enough, so you could kill two birds with one stone by employing this method.
Soundproofing Wall-Mounted Televisions and Speakers
Wall-mounted speakers and televisions can be doubly problematic for your neighbour. As well as the airborne sound emerging from the speakers, there is also the vibration which enters the wall via the metal fixings holding it in place.
Thankfully there is a simple and effective solution to this. You can install rubber ‘grommets’ or ‘collars’, through which the fittings pass. The material (usually rubber) absorbs any vibrations.
Relocation, Relocation, Relocation
Your local Environmental Health Department are more likely to consider you a noisy neighbour, if you’re creating a disturbance immediately adjacent to your neighbour’s living room or bedroom. If you’re determined to enjoy your music loud and proud, you might want to consider moving your equipment to a room that is adjacent to a bathroom, kitchen, utility room etc.
Timing is Everything
If none of the above appeal to you, you might want to consider regulating the hours during which you enjoy your audio-visual entertainment. Your local council are likely to consider the hours of 11:00pm to 7:00am the ‘night time hours’, so try to avoid making too much noise during these times. However, if you really want to be a good neighbour, you should be looking to extend this ‘quiet time’ by a couple of hours at either end (i.e. 9:00pm to 9:00am). And for Sundays, traditionally a day of rest, perhaps you could consider not cranking up you Fender until at least 10:00am.
DON’T IRRITATE YOUR NEIGHBOUR
When it comes to knocking in nails, drilling holes, lifting floorboards etc, there isn’t much you can do, realistically, to reduce the amount of noise you’re going to make. It’s all going to come down to timing (see ‘Timing is Everything’ above).
Fair Warning and Scheduling
Your neighbour is far more likely to be amenable to your noise-making if you give them a little bit of notice and, preferably, negotiate a time which is good for them, too. If you can coincide your DIY activities with when they’re away, for example, it’s all good. Even if you can’t schedule all your DIYing with when they’re away, the fact that you do so some of the time, the very fact that you’re making the effort, will go a long way to creating a cooperative give-and-take arrangement.
Parties are tricky. Unless you’re having a highly civilised (and, possibly, boring) dinner party, the likelihood of there being a fair amount of noise is quite high. Similarly, you’re not going to get many people eager to attend your get-together if you’re going to be shushing everyone or ushering them out of the door at 9:00pm.
So, we’re just looking at ameliorating the situation. There are three things you can do:
- Give plenty of warning
- Invite your neighbour
- Don’t do it too often
HOME GYM ACOUSTICS
Exercise bikes, treadmills, rowing machines, cross trainers, free weights etc. are all great for your physical fitness, but they all create noise and vibrations which can be heard and felt by your next door neighbour.
Once again, you can apply a little consideration with the regard to the timing of your workout, but there are also physical solutions to excessive gym equipment noise. These acoustic solutions include things like vibration isolation pads and resistance machine impact washers. The former are placed under your exercise equipment to absorb noise and vibrations. The latter are retrofitted or installed during assembly into the machine itself.
DRUMS, GUITARS ETC
The rules for being a good neighbour with regard to your rock star aspirations are pretty much the same as the recommendations for TV and music, above. You might also want to consider wearing headphones or eschewing your amp (particularly at antisocial hours). You can even practice your drumming without striking a single skin (click here to find out more).
IN THE DOG HOUSE
Dogs bark. It’s what they do. With the exception of a few breeds, not barking is a sign that something is probably wrong with your dog. But what if they’re barking too much, or at antisocial times.
A lot of barking happens at unproblematic times: when someone comes to the door or walks past the house, when you’re at work (and your neighbour is likely to be too). But what if they’re barking late at night, or in the early hours of the morning? This kind of behaviour – where there doesn’t appear to be any immediate or obvious cause – can often be a case of excess energy or boredom.
One solution is to make sure your dog is thoroughly tired before they go to bed. Take them for an extra walk at the end of the day and give them a real run-around.
You can also look to deal with their barking more generally (i.e. even when it isn’t happening during antisocial hours), so that they reduce their barking overall, and therefore at night and during the early hours. This will take time, obviously, but will be worth it in the long run. Here are a few things (recommended by the Humane Society) that you can do:
- Don’t interact with your dog when they are barking
- When they stop praise them and give them a treat
- Increase the period of time they have to be quiet before they get a treat
- Be positive (no yelling)
- Be consistent
- Reduce the amount of noise you’re making
- Keep any noise-making to social hours
- Make your noise in a room that isn’t adjacent to your neighbours living areas
- Schedule your noise considerately
- Give your neighbour fair warning
- Don’t party too often
- Isolate any exercise equipment
- Sleeping dogs don’t bark