Apartment Guru: Loud, Little Neighbors

loud twin neighborsDear Apartment Guru,
My upstairs neighbors have twin three-year-olds. It seriously sounds like they are running a cattle ranch or a rugby team up there. I know they are trying really hard to work with me- they've spent more than $1,000 on rugs and pads and I know they have the kids remove their shoes when they come in. (I know, because I can hear them screaming "Take off your shoes!") So, other than amputating their feet or my ears, what can be done?

-Twitching A Little Bit in BrooklynDear Twitchy,
Step away from the chainsaw. First of all, you are neither Van Gogh, nor the Cathy Bates character from "Misery". No need to resort to violence.

Second of all, not everything that can be done has been done. First of all, if your place is a condo or a rental, you might be able to force your neighbors or landlord to carpet the place from wall to wall. Definitely check your contract. "Sometimes pads and rugs just aren't enough," says Bill, a sound guy for film and television in LA. Those gaps in the rugs leave plenty of room for on-going noisiness. But since your neighbors have really tried, maybe it's time to start with the man in the mirror.

"There is a lot you can do to soundproof a space," continues Bill. "Homasote is a company that everyone in my industry knows about. They use a special fiber board to sound proof." Just remember that an acoustically dead space is-well, the use of the word "dead" might help you figure out what it is. You don't live in a cave for a reason.

Sound machines like ones that produce white noise can also help mute external noises. And never underestimate the value of the earplug. "Just use them correctly," warns Bill. "I have a buddy who slept in a pair and really damaged his ear drum." Luckily I'm assuming the twins go to sleep at a reasonable hour, so cling to that as a positive (though that really doesn't help with their early-to-rise schedule, does it?).

"You can also paint egg crate foam white and suspend it from your ceiling," suggests our sound guy. Make it a project the three-year-olds (and their mom and dad) can help with. If you rent, your landlord might be willing to kick in for costs.

The Aparment Guru is Joselin Linder, co-writer of The Good Girls Guide to Living in Sin and Have Sex Like You Just Met. Having rented apartments and houses in Boston, Seattle, San Francisco, Brooklyn, Columbus, OH and abroad in Prague, CZ, she knows what it means to live in home you don't own and still make it homey. Anything she doesn't know, she isn't afraid to ask.
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