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This article is going to be the start of a regular series where we discuss noise through floors and ceilings and solutions that can be adopted.
Many flats were constructed in the days before noise control formed part of the Building Regulations and in many cases were the subject of a change of use. This is when large houses and other buildings have been turned into flats for multi-occupation. It is this type of property, usually with timber suspended floors that often suffer from noise created by neighbours below and above. Noise from neighbours through floors and ceilings is not only disturbing but can also be injurious to health as is often discussed in media these days.
If you have the co-operation of your neighbours and are prepared to put up with the disruption of removing floors and ceilings, separating floors can be upgraded to comply with the current Building Regulations for the control of noise from neighbours. On the other hand, if you can only treat the problem from your side of the divide, that is possible too but of course, will not reach the same degree of soundproofing but will still be beneficial at reducing the noise nuisance.
Although we will discuss solutions to reduce noise nuisance from affecting you, it must be realised that noise at night will almost certainly be heard, no matter how much attention paid to installing noise control measures. Introducing properly installed noise control measures should reduce any noise being heard to much more acceptable levels and if the noise at night is constant, usually within a short space of time the body gets used to it and will no longer disturb sleep. People living next to busy roads for instance nearly always go straight to sleep. It is when they move from a quiet environment to a noisier one sleep problems will be encountered because they are not used to it. The trick is not to let it bother you, just relax and you will be surprised at how quickly you will become used to the noise.
Loud noise will always be heard such as shouting or music being played at high volumes. This is anti-social behaviour and if having a quiet word with the neighbours does not resolve the problem then you have to refer the matter to the local authority who have the powers to deal with the problem but this should be your last resort. It is always better to negotiate rather than confrontate (new word just invented because it rhymes). When presented with the problem of excessive noise from neighbours, rather than go pounding on their door and having an angry confrontation (correct spelling) with them, instead, politely ask them back to your place for a drink so that you can discus the problem and possible solutions. In many cases, neighbours may be unaware and mortified they are disturbing others and will take steps to address the problem. That way you will remain friends with the neighbours which is something to be valued. Friendly neighbours are like gold dust and should be cherished.
Look out for our next article when we will discuss bringing an existing separating floor into compliance with the Building Regulations for the control of noise.