As anyone who lives in a town or city will tell you, neighbours make noise. And when that noise is at 3am and you’ve got work the next day, Jessie Hewitson say’s it’s time to consult our checklist of what to do when you’re living next to a noisy neighbour.
1. Know your tolerance to noise and make appropriate decisions. If you need a monastic hush to sleep at night, live on the top floor or in a well insulated newbuild.
2. It’s best to speak to the neighbour face to face about the problem first. Employ all your powers of gentle persuasion and frame the conversation in a non-confrontational way: invite them for a cup of tea and ply them with biscuits and compliments before the noise chat. Basic psychology dictates that someone is more likely to do something for you if they are not feeling ordered to do it.
3. If your neighbour is a tenant, inform their landlord and see if that does the trick.
4. If the pesky neighbour ignores you – or you feel uncomfortable speaking to them in person – then do the old fashioned thing and write them a letter. Your council website can provide you with a template for this letter, such as this one. This is more formal, so may be taken more seriously – and will also provide you with evidence should the authorities get involved.
5. If this all fails, contact your local council’s Environmental Health team, who will ask you to keep a diary of the noise and then….not do much about it, until you pester them repeatedly and they come out and measure the sound disruption. If it is considered too high the local authority can then issue a notice and your neighbour can be fined or prosecuted if they ignore this.
6. Speak to your local Citizen’s Advice Bureau for free advice.
7. Video or record anything that might prove your point.
8. If you are a home owner, bear in mind that any protracted dispute with your neighbours could have an impact on the sale of your house. Seek advice from a friendly solicitor or friends of friends who have been through this.
Twenty years ago a bathroom was considered a functional room in the family home – necessary but not a priority. All that has changed: these days we spend more time in, and money on, our bathrooms. They are bigger – one developer reports that the size of their bathrooms has increased by 20-25 per cent in the past five years – and there isn’t a hint of avocado in the colour scheme. They help sell homes.
There is also an increasing range of techno gadgetry to employ in today’s modern bathroom: underfloor heating keeps the tootsies warm, while fixed speakers in the ceiling allow you to listen to music while soaking in the tub with the lights dimmed. As we’re working longer hours, often in more stressful conditions, our bathrooms have become more indulgent.
“When I started as an agent, bathrooms and kitchens were not as important as they are now,” says Rollo Miles, manager of the Ladbroke Grove office of John D Wood. “About 12 to 15 years ago all this changed. Out went the plastic bathroom suits and in came what I call the ‘designer spaces’.”
At the very top end of the market, statement bathrooms now resemble mini spas, sanctuaries where stress is soothed away. These designs are imitations of what is being experienced in five-star hotels: the size of living rooms, they come with rainfall showers, hot tubs and large plasma screens.
Barton Wyatt agency is currently selling a Wentworth home featuring gadgetry that allows you to start a bath and set the temperature from your iPhone, meaning you can hop on the train after work and jump straight into a steaming hot bath. Showers are also appearing with lights that turn on when the water has reached a pre-set temperature, like an oven. Guy Shaw of the Oxford Branch of John D Wood reports visiting one bathroom recently that had two pre-set temperature settings: one for the wife and one for the husband. The sign of a very precise couple indeed.