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Please help me with the noise in a grade 2 listed cottage

(22 Posts)
SmashingButternuts Sun 25-Oct-20 16:19:25

I have name changed and barely know where to start with this one

Dp and i decided we would buy together - a rural cottage with a load of space, garden, parking etc. I have kept my small place in London and I ended up buying the house in my own name (long story and not hugely important unless a decision had to be made about the house!). Though I was born in the uk, I was brought up abroad so I didn't realise the significance of listed properties here.

On a picture postcard it is beautiful. Except it is so badly sound proofed, I barely know where to start. It's on 2 levels - upstairs 2 bedrooms and a bathroom. Downstairs - a kitchen, 2 reception rooms and a downstairs bedroom with an en-suite bathroom.

I can sit in the living room downstairs and hear dp poo on the toilet upstairs. If both me and dp work and sit 2 rooms away downstairs (me in the kitchen and him in the downstairs bedroom which is basically 4 rooms away) I can hear every word he says. Now when I work, I have to work in the garage (which is separated from the house) and freezing and looks pretty bloody awful on video calls! This weekend, dp was snoring and one of his kids was coughing and I slept badly and I desperately need an afternoon nap but can't find a room where I can't hear (loudly) the tv and the kids arguing. And it isn't their fault, I don't think they are noisier than anyone else, it's just the way the sound carries.

I have googled sound proofing in grade 2 listed cottages but I am wondering if anyone has any direct experience. I know it sounds a bit drastic but I'm on the verge of wanting to go back to London just to get some peace and quiet, as weird as that may sound! I work FT during the week in a v high pressure, stressful job and really need relaxing weekends and I am just completely exhausted.

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DonLewis Sun 25-Oct-20 16:24:27

Before you start making alterations, a couple fo questions.

Do you close all of the doors between the rooms? Do they fit properly? Is it carpeted? What's the flooring?

Making alterations might be tricky. You could try heavy door curtains, rugs, tapestries for the walls.

Ear plugs too might help in the mean time.

SirVixofVixHall Sun 25-Oct-20 16:26:51

Honestly ? I would sell up.
Part of it isn’t soundproofing, it is just that you are somewhere very quiet. I live in a quiet rural area, I could hear a friend call out to me from the next road, and sheep that are in a field a walk away. Where DH grew up you could hear a dog bark from over two miles away.
In London all the background noise makes it harder to hear noises close to you.
How old is the house ? I live in a 200 year old house and the walls are very thick , but I can still hear noises from upstairs. Carpet does help, if you have boards then it is really easy to hear noise within a house, if the area is also quiet.
Maybe this is really not the right house for you, and you need somewhere not listed/with an exterior office/more background noise. Adjusting to being able to hear a pin drop, or a large spider running, in a cottage can be hard.

SmashingButternuts Sun 25-Oct-20 16:28:38

None of the doors fit - they are all original wood doors. They look beautiful but are dreadful for sound proofing. The whole house has wooden floors and the ceilings are all those exposed beams and are not straight if you know what I mean!

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averylongtimeago Sun 25-Oct-20 16:29:52

We haves worked on listed buildings- so, what is the construction?
Brick, stone, half timbered?
Roof - do the upstairs rooms have sloping ceilings or is there an attic?
What are the floors made of downstairs and upstairs?
Windows- are they still the original single glazed type? Sliding sash type?

If you give a bit more information DH and I may be able to suggest things to help.

SmashingButternuts Sun 25-Oct-20 16:30:49

I think that's it @SirVixofVixHall and I had never really realised that. I went out last night and heard an owl calling, it was beautiful but you're right, it is completely dead silent outside otherwise! The house is 300 odd years old and has v thick walls, you're right, but it's the floors/doors/ceilings that I think cause the issues.

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SmashingButternuts Sun 25-Oct-20 16:33:16

Windows are secondary glazed. It's v good at keeping noise from outside away.

Walls are stone and then plaster. Ceilings are those beams and then plaster and v old floor boards (they all slope!). Doors are all wooden and don't fit flush.

Thanks, yes any recommendations would be great!

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averylongtimeago Sun 25-Oct-20 16:33:20

For the internal doors: door curtains and door snakes to push up to the bottom of the doors.

averylongtimeago Sun 25-Oct-20 16:39:51

If it's listed you will probably not be allowed to fit new double glazed windows- just secondary double glazing.
The sloping beams and floors have to stay- you can limit noise transmission from upstairs by fitted carpet over thick underlay.
If you don't mind covering up the old floor, you could lay a floating floor over it using a product like "hush floor" but imho the wonky old floor boards and beams are what makes old houses special.

What about the roof/loft? Is that insulated?

averylongtimeago Sun 25-Oct-20 16:41:27

A joiner could re-hang the doors so they fit better perhaps, and you can fit draught excluder tape in the reveal of the door frame.

Lurchermom Sun 25-Oct-20 16:42:53

Definitely agree with above to door curtains. Also you can get sticky felt runners to go around doors which will help to plug the gaps.
With listed building "grade 2" you can't make any changes which will impact the character of the property. It's illogically ill defined. But it does give you some flexibility whilst still respecting and caring for the beautiful property you own. So you can do anything so long as it is reversible. So adding runners around doors, putting up curtains etc is all acceptable so long as you don't cause damage or irreversible changes. I'd get in a company used to working with listed buildings to come and give some advice about the floors - it could be that some form of soundproofing can be added between the plaster and floorboards. Contact your local council for advice regarding LBC. They have to make consideration for works which improve the livability of the property and weigh that up against the character of the property. So lifting floors, adding soundproofing and relaying them as before is entirely possible. Just make sure you follow the proper channels.
Remember people get permission to do all kinds of things to listed buildings , especially with grade 2 - just so long as you are respectful. If it was a grade 1 or grade 2* it would be a different matter.
I'd get in touch with your local council first and foremost. You're LBC officer may have some recommendations to help short term too.
(I've got an MSc in Conservation of Historic Buildings and own a grade 2 property, so whilst not an expert I do have an idea of what I'm talking about grin)

Lurchermom Sun 25-Oct-20 16:44:01

*Your angry

averylongtimeago Sun 25-Oct-20 16:44:38

The noise from bathrooms can be cut down more easily as it's a smaller floor area to go down the floating floor route. Also if the waste pipe runs down the inside of the house, then yes, it's excellent at transmitting noise and well as waste!

Lurchermom Sun 25-Oct-20 16:45:36

SmashingButternuts Sun 25-Oct-20 16:48:58

Thanks both, that's hugely useful. Thanks for writing such long and informative posts!

I had never heard of door curtains! I think they will make a massive difference.

I think I will ponder thick underlay and carpet upstairs. As it feels like the floors are not thick at all and quite porous and that will really help. The walls themselves are really thick so I think if we address the noise leaking through the doors we might have dealt with the worst of it!

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SmashingButternuts Sun 25-Oct-20 16:51:27

Yes @Lurchermom I could really do without hearing dp on the loo! And @averylongtimeago I will have a look at the floating floor there as it's not a big room at all, you're right

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averylongtimeago Sun 25-Oct-20 16:55:31

In the bathroom- check where the pipes run and see if you can put insulation round them to cut down noise too. Very often waste pipes run along in a boxing or under the bath which seems to amplify and "water" noises

SmashingButternuts Sun 25-Oct-20 17:17:47

Thanks - I've realised I don't know where the waste pipe is running so I'll check that in the morning!

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picklemewalnuts Sun 25-Oct-20 17:17:54

When you are working wear headphones with mikes on calls, and sound cancelling headphones. It will stop all the distractions from each other.

Audreyseyebrows Sun 25-Oct-20 17:25:08

We have the same issues op although we don’t work from home. The poo thing made me laugh! Same here!
We carpeted which helped a little.
We use ear plugs at night or if I’ve worked night shift.
I love our home and never want to leave.

SmashingButternuts Sun 25-Oct-20 17:34:51

Thanks all - I've got some great ideas from this thread and appreciate the sympathy. I look forward to the future where I hear nobody else's poos!

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SirVixofVixHall Mon 26-Oct-20 11:54:06

You could lay lovely real linoleum in the bathroom, although it needs a flat substrate, so the floating floor would need to go down first That would muffle bathroom noise.

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