New Property Noise – Prospective Home Buyers or Renters
Our noise surveys have shown that living in close proximity to neighbours is likely to increase your chances of suffering from noise problems. With more and more properties being squeezed into smaller spaces and the country becoming increasingly populated we all need to be wise to new property noise when renting or buying property.
When reading an article on noise nuisance I noted the sage advice “check out the area before you buy”. Similar advice is given by a number of housing advisors. Seems obvious doesn’t it? Sure it does, but you’d be surprised at how many people do not do their research. Noise is one of the top FIVE bugbears for home buyers or renters and the no.1 source of complaints for local Councils. A few simple checks can help minimise the risks.
DO YOUR RESEARCH
Go and visit the area where you are proposing to live. Survey the immediate and surrounding vicinity. What are the potential noise sources for new property noise?
- Do the neighbours have dogs?
- Is it located next to commercial or industrial buildings or land?
- Is it near to a busy road, railway or on a flightpath?
- Do students occupy property next door?
- Will anything attract people to congregate (e.g. playground or community centre)?
- Do the neighbours look anti-social (e.g. congregating refuse or unkempt property)?
Visit at different times of the day and night (or late evening) and make some observations (without snooping!). Weekends can also make a difference in some cases. When it comes to flightpaths you also need to be clear about wind-direction and mixed paths (some areas can be silent for days before the routes are changed).
Consider seasonal changes as well. Whilst that pub may be silent in winter, it may maximise the outdoor space throughout the summer in order to stay open. Gardens are a regular cause for concern; as are smokers on the street at night.
You can research further by looking at planning restrictions or case histories associated with commercial or industrial property. Find out how many noise complaints have been received by your local Council’s environmental health department and ask about planning restrictions such as times and conditions with the planning departments. Remember though, situations can change; land can be redeveloped and businesses change hands.
Finally, make a viewing of the property; as many times as possible. This is usually arranged through an estate agent or managing agent of the landlord.
CAN WE HANDLE IT?
Let’s say that you’ve found your dream property but there are some warning signs apparent. Consider whether there are any practical measures that may be taken to reduce the impact of any noise. Improvements in flats may be a possible solution, for example, to tackle internal issues associated with poor sound insulation. Double glazing may help reduce impacts from transportation noise or busy high streets (although ventilation and being able to open a window are also important).
How long are you going to live there and why have you chosen that area? If it is a short-term let it will clearly be less important than a home where you wish to retire or bring up children. If you are buying a property with a view to refurbishment you may also consider altering internal or external arrangements (e.g. move bedrooms around or screen an outdoor area.