With increasing numbers of people moving to busy cities and towns, peace and quiet can seem a rare commodity.
Some people are happy living close to the action, but for others, a quiet home is a priority. If you are house hunting, it can be difficult to know (beyond the obvious) of what to consider. What are the signs to be aware of for if tranquility is the most important factor? And what can you do to make your home quieter? We have compiled some tips to help you.
Choosing a location
The location has a huge impact on how quiet your home will be. Look for things like bus routes and bus stops, and obviously train lines. Check major transport websites such as Transport for London and Transport for Greater Manchester for any new train or bus links which are in the pipeline.
Some of the factors which affect noise levels will be evident if you know what to look for. James Staite, Sales Manager for Kinleigh Folkard & Hayward (KFH) in Marylebone says: “Speed bumps slow traffic, but they also increase noise.” Another thing to investigate is whether there are restrictions on heavy goods vehicles on your street. Of course, pubs, bars and nightclubs should be considered. There may be some overspill from these nightspots even if they are not right next to or below your property.
Visit at different times of the day
Buying a house is one of the biggest decisions you’ll ever make, so it pays to visit several times. “Some streets are very busy during the day, but quiet at night and weekends,” says Staite. Buildings such as schools which can generate noise during the day are not a disadvantage if you work away from home during the day.
Try the top floor
In apartments, the top floor is usually a safe bet because no one lives on the level above. It is also further away from the entrance hall, which can bring a bit more noise. It will also remove you from street level sounds such as traffic.
Ask your surveyor
If you want to know more about any sound insulation which has already been installed, you can ask your surveyor to find this. Staite suggests: “Period buildings converted a long time ago would have been subject to few regulations but in recent years, there has been a lot of safeguarding for things like fireproofing and acoustics.” Materials such as rubber matting between floors can mitigate noise from other parts of the building.
Find out about the neighbours
Vendors are legally bound to inform you if they have had any serious disputes with their neighbours. What constitutes a dispute is open to interpretation but in general terms, if you’ve had to contact a neighbour in writing, or complain to the council or another authority about them, then the dispute will have to be declared.
Watch out for wood
Some leases will stipulate that you must have carpeted rather than wooden floors, especially in a converted property which is now being sold as separate flats. “A lot of people like wooden floors or tiles nowadays,” says Staite. Avoid excessive noise by putting soundproofing underneath the wood.
Once you have bought a property, double glazing, sound insulation and even soft furnishings can all help absorb unwanted sound. Staite suggests double or triple glazing can be added inside the building if necessary if you are not allowed to make external modifications. Thicker curtains instead of blinds, carpets and soft furnishings all absorb noise.
Prepare for surprises
Even in isolated or previously peaceful locations, things can change. Look out for disused premises which may turn into noisy development sites in the future, but bear in mind changes could come at any time, and noise can be unpredictable.
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