What can we do about the constant noise from the young family next door?
At times we are reduced to sleeping in the sittingroom just to get through the night
“We’ve gone from hearing virtually nothing next door to long nights of crying and early morning debates over what the children are going to wear to crèche and tantrums.” Photograph: Getty Images
My wife and I purchased a semi-detached house a number of years ago and we had a single elderly neighbour who unfortunately passed away. The house was sold to a very pleasant family of four with two children under 5 (including a baby).
Unfortunately, this has completely changed our experience and enjoyment of our home and we’ve gone from hearing virtually nothing next door to long nights of crying and early morning debates over what the children are going to wear to crèche and tantrums.
Despite speaking to our neighbours, the situation is not improving (despite their genuine best efforts and apologies). Is there anything I can do to sound proof the house that won’t cost a fortune? At times my wife and I sleep on a pull-out bed in the sittingroom just to get through the night.
Noise of this kind is a common complaint among next-door neighbours in close proximity to each other, and especially if they’re at different stages of life. It sounds as though you and your wife have handled this difficult situation in a fair and peaceful manner up to this point despite the inconvenience it has caused you both.
To answer your question, all homes built from 1991 onwards should be designed and constructed in accordance with building regulations. Design guidelines on how to limit sound transfer is identified within technical guidance document – E 1991 (TGD). This document was updated and improved in 1997 and 2014. The overall requirement stipulated that a wall or floor should have “reasonable resistance to airborne/impact sound”.
It should be noted that even if constructed in accordance with guidelines, the wall/floor will not totally prevent the transfer of sound from one property to another, however, sound transfer should not be sufficient enough to prevent quiet enjoyment.
Where excessive sound transfer is occurring, this is more than likely as a result of poor workmanship or incomplete detailing. Knowing the construction type (timber frame/concrete) and identifying the shortcomings in construction technique will allow a tailored solution to resolve the problem for you and your wife.
The key to reducing sound transfer is to increase wall density and remove any inconsistencies in the overall construction or provide a separation layer. This could include:
– Constructing a separate 50mm/75mm thick stud partition wall/separation layer will significantly reduce the level of unwanted noise, it will also reduce the space of the room. Cost ranges between €100 and €110 per sq m.
– Installation of a high-density acoustic insulation board, finished with two layers of 12.5mm plasterboard. This method will reduce sound transfer and reduce the loss of space by about 50 per cent. Cost ranges between €65 and €75 per sq m.
– Installation of a 12.5mm heavy plaster sound board will marginally reduce sound transfer but will significantly reduce space loss. Cost ranges between €20 and €30 per sq m.
Additional cost allowance for the relocation of electrical sockets, radiators, alterations to floorboards/joists and carpet will need to be considered.
Again, it is difficult to say without knowing the property construction type, but once you do identify any shortcomings in construction you will be in a position to take action to suit your needs and hopefully get a better night’s sleep.
Andrew Ramsey is a chartered building surveyor and chartered project management surveyor and member of the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland (SCSI), scsi.ie