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New Yorkers Talk to Their Neighbors Mostly to Gripe About Noise: Study

By Amy Zimmer | February 22, 2016 7:03am
 Some 46 percent of New Yorkers have argued with the neighbors about noise, according to a survey by search engine Homes.com.
Some 46 percent of New Yorkers have argued with the neighbors about noise, according to a survey by search engine Homes.com.
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NEW YORK CITY — It’s almost a given in New York City apartment living that you will hear noise from your neighbors’ apartments.

Whether it’s the pitter patter of kids or pets running amok, the loud banging of drumming sessions, or the moans and groans of intercourse — which DNAinfo found last year was particularly loud at one Bay Ridge building — residents have their share of noise gripes from neighbors.

In fact, 46 percent of New Yorkers have argued with the neighbors about noise, according to a survey of 1,000 city residents released Monday by search engine Homes.com.

In a town where neighbors don’t often talk to each other — the survey found that at least 34 percent of New Yorkers went more than a week without speaking to those living nearby — they do often hear each other, and noise was the No. 1 reason for fights between neighbors.

Manhattanites and Brooklynites fought the most with their noisy neighbors, with about 52 percent of residents sparring over the issue, followed by The Bronx at nearly 49 percent, the survey found.

The results did not surprise Michael LaFratta, of Silentium Soundproofing, who is currently working on a project for a couple on West 57th Street who recently moved into a condo below an apartment with three kids, ranging from 5 to 9 years old, who are constantly playing overhead and driving the new owners "crazy."

A whopping 85 percent of his residential clients have problems with their ceilings, rather than walls, he said.

“It’s kids running upstairs, pets with their nails running across the floor, people walking with heels, people moving furniture,” LaFratta said.

And there have been more complaints in recent years, especially in pricey Manhattan neighborhoods where families have combined apartments and changed layouts, so what is still a bedroom for the unit downstairs may now be a hallway for the family upstairs.

“When you hear everything from your neighbors —  their TV, them having sex, them going to the bathroom, whether one or two — it can get to you,” LaFratta said. “The homeowner is not sleeping, at wit's end. You have no idea the situations I’ve seen. You’d think people were back in grade school, fighting over these issues.”

LaFratta has seen people on both sides get slapped with orders of protection against them because of these fights.

“I tell people, it’s not their neighbors that are the problem," he explained. Rather, the problems is the way that buildings are constructed, and he said, "You have to deal with the root cause."

But there can be limitations to soundproofing.

For instance, if you only have 8-foot-tall ceilings, it’s hard to do anything.

With the 57th Street apartment, there are 8-foot, 6-inch ceilings, and LaFratta has to use special, expensive spring hangers that will take up 5 inches of the ceiling.

Soundproofing the couple's 250-square-foot master bedroom is expected to cost about $18,500, said LaFratta, whose firm won’t do jobs for less than $10,000 (which is what a 100-square-foot room might cost) given his overhead for his staff and expenses such as workers comp and insurance.

The soundproofing process can add to the stress, he admitted.

“Your entire home is turned upside down for a week or two or three,” he said. “It’s a disruption, even though in the end the problem will be reduced and people are happy.”