New home and I hate it :(

(38 Posts)
Cottonwool82 Thu 01-Aug-13 16:55:23

Hello everyone! This is my first post here, so please be gentle. Hope I've got the right section!

Basically DH and I have just bought a new home in London. We've been super careful with money for ages and made huge sacrifices to save up our deposit, so we were really excited when we finally moved in last week.

However, since arriving at the property, I've realised it suffers from what every new homeowner dreads - noisy neighbours sad

We live in a one-bed garden flat in a converted Victorian terrace, and the party wall between the bedroom and the neighbours' property next door is the issue (the adjoining flat on the other side is vacant).

Basically when I'm lying in bed I can often hear them talking really loudly and laughing on the other side of the wall. They are a large family and so it equates to a lot of voices and loud noise sad

I'm at home today and when I go into the bedroom, I can hear the mum shouting on her mobile on the other side of the wall. It has gone on for the good part of two hours today.

I just don't know what to do and am being driven to despair. I guess it's not really the neighbours' fault, as the noise they make is only chatter, talking and laughing - they haven't played any music or anything like that (yet!), which is something you can actually complain about. They do have very loud voices and tend to shout quite a bit when they talk to each other - but you can't tell someone that their talking is disturbing you, can you?

I am just so upset as DH and I have had a tough year with lots of financial problems, and I really wanted a fresh start and for this to be our dream home. I've poured all my money into this place and now the thin walls are ruining it sad

DH hasn't mentioned the noise, but he must have heard it too. I think I'm scared to broach how I'm feeling to him as he does get fed-up with me and says I'm never happy.

I just wish we'd never left our rental property which was lovely and very quiet. Help!! sad

By the way, switching the lounge and bedroom around is really an impossibility, since the lounge is very large and the bedroom is tiny, with fitted wardrobes already built in. Plus we have no money left in the kitty!

Should also mention the property next door is council-owned, so the neighbours are tenants rather than the owners of the property, if that matters.

maddybassett Thu 01-Aug-13 17:06:00

Cottonwool

Congratulations on having bought a flat !

My advice would be not to panic yet . Whenever we have moved I am quite sensitive to noises which we didn't have in the previous house. It may be that once you are feeling more settled any noise bothers you less.

If it continues to be bad would you be able to have your wardrobes moved to the party wall ? A wardrobe full of clothes can absorb a fair bit of noise.

MB

Roshbegosh Thu 01-Aug-13 17:11:41

This is a real shame for you and I don't think there is much to do besides ear plugs when you are trying to sleep. I can send you details of really good ones if you PM me. The last thing you should do is start a conflict with them because you will move on at some point and don't want to have that escalate and be declared. If you are going out to work you will not be bothered during the day so much and noise levels do go up in the summer with windows open etc. When you are settled in you will make your own noises and not notice them so much. Try to focus on what you like about it and remember that buying it is a great achievement, the market is rising and you can sell in a year or two. Good for you for managing that after a difficult year financially. These old houses were never meant to be lived in as flats and noise is often a problem. You will make the flat your own soon and start to enjoy it, don't let the neighbours spoil this achievement or cause a problem in your relationship. One day you will look back on it and maybe have fond memories or maybe you will shudder, I don't know, but it is a temporary state of affairs.

Cottonwool82 Thu 01-Aug-13 17:13:24

Hi MB, thank you so much for the reply. I know what you mean, it can sometimes take time to adjust to the new sounds of a new home - and I have only been here a week. I guess I'm just beginning to panic that this is what we will have to put up with for the next three years.

Unfortunately moving the fitted cupboards to the party wall isn't really an option either, as due to the shape of the room, it would then mean we could the barely fit the bed in! Also the party wall is much longer than the side wall (where the cupboards are now), and it would give us way too much cupboard space.

I am just so worried about telling DH how I feel. I've been quite low for several months due to financial issues (now resolved). I was so hoping for a fresh start for the both of us, but now just feel so stressed out by all the noise from next door sad

Maybe you're right, I just need to give it more time and get used to the property, so to speak.

Cottonwool82 Thu 01-Aug-13 17:18:03

Thanks so much Rosh. Exactly, I don't want to say anything to them for the reason you mentioned. Also, I'm not sure how I can ask them not to shout on the phone during the day! They would most likely see that as unreasonable - and perhaps it is really sad I just love peace and quiet in my home most of the time I guess.

Our rental property was just lovely and practically silent (probably quite rare in London!). I'm now beginning to wish we'd just stayed there and not bought. At least with renting you can move away easily if you get bad neighbours.

Bowlersarm Thu 01-Aug-13 17:19:16

Definitely give it some time, and try not to panic. Moving house is so, so stressful your emotions are probably all over place.

Unfortunately there doesn't seem a whole lot you can do as they aren't being particularly noisy, it's just day to day noise which they have a right to make.

If the noise they are making keep you awake at night I would mention it, otherwise I wouldn't.

Cottonwool82 Thu 01-Aug-13 17:22:13

Thanks Bowlersarm. Yes, that's the problem - it's not like they are playing thumping loud music or anything. They do shout and talk constantly, but I guess it's more that the wall just happens to be very thin rather than them being particularly unreasonable.

Would you guys mention it to DH if you were me, or try and keep it to yourselves? The last thing I want to do is make him unhappy and worried about our new home sad

coffeewineandchocolate Thu 01-Aug-13 17:22:23

I would suggest sacrificing half a foot and building a false wall along there party wall and sound insulating it. cost a few hundred pounds.

coffeewineandchocolate Thu 01-Aug-13 17:25:23
Bowlersarm Thu 01-Aug-13 17:27:25

Have you got things like, carpets, curtains, furniture, pictures on the walls? It's not much but it should absorb a bit of the noise.

I'm unsure whether you should mention it to your DH. Maybe leave it a while because it sounds like he has found things stressful recently.

Cottonwool82 Thu 01-Aug-13 17:27:27

Thanks coffeewineandchocolate. Does that tend to be effective do you know? I've been doing a lot of research into it recently and have found a lot of conflicting opinions! The room is very small as it is, but half a foot is nothing for your peace of mind. Also, who would you speak to - a builder??

By the way, the previous owner told us the flat was very quiet when we asked of course - but she seemed to be quite a work hard play hard type, who wasn't in very much...

dyslexicdespot Thu 01-Aug-13 17:30:00

I second building a false wall. I live in London and have suffered from thin walls and noisy neighbours as well. It can become increasingly annoying if you dwell on it without having a plan of action.

Cottonwool82 Thu 01-Aug-13 17:30:16

Hi Bowlersarm, yes we do have carpets and a painting or two. You're right about DH - he has been under a lot of pressure and was looking forward to the same new start that I was. It would break my heart to have to tell him I'm not happy in the flat we worked so hard for.

Coffeewineandchocolate, thanks for the link - I will definitely look into that!

spamm Thu 01-Aug-13 17:31:02

I would not mention it yet, unless you get really stressed out with this.

Maybe get used to having the radio on during the day - I loved Radio 4 when I lived in the UK, it became great background noise to my day and I like to think I learnt a lot by osmosis in the process.

Maybe do some online research about things like soft furnishings that you could use on that wall that would help dampen the noise? Some new stylish curtains, or a large piece of wall "Art"?

Give yourself time and be patient with yourself - it sound like you are working yourself into bigger worry about this that you need to, at least for now?

coffeewineandchocolate Thu 01-Aug-13 17:31:12

a builder can do it but if your dp it's good at diy he could probably do it. Get a professional in to plaster tho.

We did it in my dh's office and it made a difference. it's not silent but much improved. Its worth paying for the best insulation material you can afford.

middleagedspread Thu 01-Aug-13 17:35:18

You poor thing.
You've probably been so excited that you've finally achieved what you've been saving for & now feel your bubble has burst.
Honestly a week is nothing. You will get used to the noise, it just takes time.
Remember lots of people live backing onto tube lines & under a flight path & eventually learn to zone out and not hear it. You will be the same, in 6 months you'll be laughing about this, quite possibly to your neighbours.

Cottonwool82 Thu 01-Aug-13 17:41:00

Thanks Spamm and middleagedspread. You're right, maybe I just need to give myself some more time to adjust and get used to the property. It's tempting to tell DH how I'm feeling (I'm terrible at keeping things to myself!) but I know that would be so selfish. I do wonder if he has noticed the noise (he has been out during the worst of it!) and is thinking the same as me - or if it just doesn't affect him like it does me.

Cottonwool82 Thu 01-Aug-13 17:42:28

P.s. I have been thinking that if it became completely unbearable, we could just permanently sleep on the sofa bed in our lounge - not ideal but it's on the other side of the house, so should be better noise-wise.

cooper44 Thu 01-Aug-13 19:00:19

hi there - I really feel for you - I am very noise sensitive too.
as other posters have said I would give it a bit of time first because it's all very new.

But then if it is unreasonable noise you can say something - some people just aren't really aware they are noisy. Although I have noisy sons and I find it almost impossible to keep their noise down sometimes.

But more importantly - I live right next door to a nursery with 60 kids in a semi-detached house. Our living room and bedroom is right next to the baby rooms. The owner installed sound-proofing when she did up the nursery and I swear I never hear a sound so I think if you do it well it really can make a huge difference. And so would any books etc to absorb more noise.

Meringue33 Thu 01-Aug-13 20:05:15

I had neighbours from hell before and at night I actually wore industrial ear protectors over earplugs. Worked as long as I slept on my back.

bluebluecow Thu 01-Aug-13 20:12:15

i am like you and cherish peace and quiet. ive got loud neighbours who spend their whole life in the garden in the summer and when ive got my patio doors open i feel invaded... i can hear every word they say and visa versa. cant move due to financial reasons. my home is perfect otherwisesad

jinglebellmel Thu 01-Aug-13 21:38:40

Sorry you are feeling like this, I love my quiet so can understand how annoying this must be. I do think that it takes a little while to get used to the noises of a new house, so try to give it a little time if you can. Also there are always really high expectations when you have saved and struggled for a home that it will be perfect and your life will be amazing in it. Can take a little while to adjust to reality rather than the fantasy!

If none of this works you could try sound proofing the party wall, and I also find playing the sound of rain or having our noisy fan on helps to 'blend' noise and help me relax at night and sleep. I hope you can sort something out. I think money on sound proofing could be well spent if it means you aren't stressed.

Jan49 Thu 01-Aug-13 22:08:39

Sorry you're struggling with your new home. sad Is the problem always the bedroom, not the living room? If it is, you could just make sure you don't use the bedroom much except to sleep. If you're just popping in and out of the bedroom sometimes during the daytime then it doesn't matter so much if you can hear their voices.

Cottonwool82 Thu 01-Aug-13 22:24:56

Hi Jan, yes, the problem is with the bedroom, as that's the room that adjoins the party wall. The living room is on the other side of the house, and the flat adjoining that wall is empty, so it's fine!

I take your point about only going in the bedroom to sleep. The problem is, the talking and shouting and laughing goes on until about midnight at least - and this morning started up again at 4.45am (when I woke up). How can people survive on such little sleep? I definitely can't!

Cottonwool82 Thu 01-Aug-13 22:27:27

Thanks jinglebell! Yes, I take your point about very high expectations. I think I did suffer from that a bit sad

I know what you mean about having another noise to "focus on" too. I think I will start running my washing machine when I go to bed! It could help.

Cottonwool82 Thu 01-Aug-13 22:28:50

Hi bluebluecow. I know the feeling sad My flat would be pretty much perfect without the nightmare noise from the neighbours!

Cottonwool82 Thu 01-Aug-13 22:33:29

Hi Cooper84 and Meringue33 - thanks for the advice. Agree sound-proofing is something to consider, although I'm a bit worried it could affect resale if a surveyor picked up on it. What do you think?

Love the industrial headphones idea - I might have to invest in some of those! :D

coffeewineandchocolate Thu 01-Aug-13 22:49:06

I think a good estate agent could make soundproofing a real positive

ogredownstairs Fri 02-Aug-13 00:02:26

I had this in a flat I owned 15 years ago. It was awful - nothing that you could complain about as people were just living their lives - no loud music, but still very intrusive for all of us. It was slightly easier for us as the neighbours were owners too, so in the end we shared the cost of soundproofing. Lots of flats converted in the 70s were done without any thought to sound proofing. It was a horrible shock to me the night we moved in, so I really do sympathise. I would go for it - it will be money well spent and will save your sanity. I also found just planning a pragmatic solution really helped in itself, and it wasn't all that expensive. It was actually a bonus when we came to sell.

littlecrystal Fri 02-Aug-13 09:50:48

If you love the flat minus the noise, then there is a clear solution for a problem - soundproofing. It is just a bit of job to do and a bit of space to lose, but it will be worth and a bonus if you come to sell.

ChippingInHopHopHop Fri 02-Aug-13 10:01:23

There is absolutely no way that sound proofing will be anything but a positive when you come to sell, so don't worry about that.

Books are incredibly good for absorbing sound - so you could always put some bookshelves against that wall and load up the paperbacks until you can afford the sound proofing.

It is incredibly disappointing when you buy somewhere that turns out to have a 'fault' that you couldn't have forseen and it's not as 'perfect' as you envisaged.

Would it help to tell you that I'm incredibly envious of your victorian flat in London?? I'd put up with mildly noisy neighbours to swap with you!! My neighbours are just as annoying and I live in the boring 'burbs!!

Cottonwool82 Sat 03-Aug-13 08:52:03

Thanks Chippinghophophop. Unfortunately the bedroom is very small so not really any space to put up bookshelves. However, I could just about lose 3 inches off that wall, so I guess soundproofing is an option. I will do some research into the link that coffeewineandchocolate posted!

Why are your neighbours annoying? Mine seem to be up really late talking, shouting and laughing - then they start up again really early in the morning. I have no idea where they get the energy from! I'm also surprised that the wall is so thin. I thought these Victorian properties were meant to be built better than new builds in terms of wall thickness etc!

Cottonwool82 Sat 03-Aug-13 08:54:57

Thanks ogredownstairs and littlecrystal. Yes, I think we will seriously have to look into soundproofing - but I guess it'll have to be just from our side, as the neighbours are tenants. But that should be ok? I just hope it's effective!

VermicularCanister Sat 03-Aug-13 11:30:31

OP, you have my sympathies. We were in a similar situation a few years back - viewed a flat on a quiet day when none of the neighbours were home, and only when we moved in did we find the soundproofing was rubbish, and we could literally hear them sneezing next door.

I have no experience of soundproofing (we were renting so not an option for us), but my best advice to you would be to like your neighbours! I felt very much less stressed about the noise the more well disposed I felt towards the people making it.

In our case we had a night-waking two-year-old downstairs, and a pair of lads with loud stereos next door. It was very tempting to begin by asking everyone to keep the noise down, but instead we got to know them a little bit and found they were actually very nice, and eventually it didn't seem so important.

It got to the point where their noise was so normal to us that I found it quite reassuring if I was home on my own, to hear them going about their lives.

Eventually we went on to have DCs 1 and 2 in that same flat, and we were very grateful for our neighbours' understanding when it was us with the crying babies and tantrumming toddlers.

Fermin Sun 04-Aug-13 09:55:52

It may sound ridiculous but a temporary measure would be to download a white noise app. We've used it since our baby was born as it's meant to be soothing for newborns but even though he's now out of our room we still have it on. Even at quite a low level it drowns out the sound of any late night tv/music/chatter coming from next door. Having a fan on is just as effective. I can totally sympathise, I've been blighted by noisy neighbours ever since I left home. The worst was when we arrived at our beautiful new Victorian terrace on moving day to the sound of drums coming from one of our neighbours. Turns out he had a mental health problem and never left his room so his dad had brought him a drum kit to occupy him. We actually got to know his dad eventually so it was almost easier to put up with until one evening his son appeared outside our bedroom window and violently threw a wheelie bin against it. Quite traumatic for everyone really. We moved from that flat to a flat where the couple beneath us had screaming arguments and the police were called on a regular basis. Makes current neighbours who are a major PITA look relatively tame in comparison although we're not in London anymore and I expected the pay off for living in the 'burbs to be peace and quiet!

Potterer Sun 04-Aug-13 21:30:43

Have a look at Fermacell plasterboard, they use it to insulate for fire but also acoustics.

Apparently it weighs quite a lot, my plasterer talked about installing it on ceilings. It complies with regulations on sound proofing between properties. If you did a stud wall, filled it with insulation and then used Fermacell to line it then it should cut out a lot of noise.

Here is their website here

And the only reason we looked into it was because we had a kitchen extension built and we were going to install the kitchen ourselves and you can drill straight into Fermacell and it will hold a hell of a lot of weight on one screw. We saw it at a trade show.

chenin Sun 04-Aug-13 21:45:41

I am very noise sensitive and I just about everything wakes me up. My OH breathing, sounds of cars, the bin men... anything.

Like Fermin said.. something that gives out 'white noise' . I honestly cannot recommend a white noise machine enough. It has saved my life and restored my sanity. It's worth spending a bit of money on one (the make I got was Marsona... it's american). You have to experiment with the tone button and the volume until you get it just right for you, but it literally cuts out everything. It sounds like an air conditioning machine or a fan and it is wonderful.

It's only small and I take it with me when I stay in hotels. BTW I live in the middle of nowhere and for me that's almost worse! It means any noise at all wakes me, this has saved me and it even drowns out my OH's snoring and as he sounds like the 3.45 arriving into Paddington, that's no mean feat!

Good luck with it.

Cottonwool82 Mon 05-Aug-13 11:33:33

Thanks everyone for your replies - you've made me feel much better!

I think as Vermicular said, perhaps it's just a questions of getting used to the quirky noises and sounds that come with a new flat. At our previous apartment (which we rented), you could literally hear a pin drop - so it's quite a big adjustment to make. But hopefully I will get there.

In the meantime I will definitely look into a white noise machine (thanks helliebean!) and if in a month or two I'm still struggling, then I'll look at more expensive options like soundproofing. Am hoping I don't have to go down that route, as money for DH and I is extremely tight at the moment!

By the way, is it true that any noise complaints you make to the council can be found by solicitors when you come to sell the flat? It seems a bit wrong, as if you have noisy neighbours it means you can't report them for fear of not being able to sell when you want to move on!

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