Neighbors say I'm making too much noise. Opinions?

I moved into an upper middle class neighborhood about 6 weeks ago. There are 10 houses on my cul-de-sac and everybody seems to be very nice. I live there with my partner. My partners two children stay with us every other weekend. My partners 16 year old son has a band and they take turns practicing at each band members house every week or so. Our house if about 15 feet from the neighbors house.

On Wednesday of this week, the 16 year old came over in the afternoon and practiced playing the drums. He practiced off and on from 3pm til about 8pm. It was loud, but not deafening. The next day, I was sitting on the front porch and the next door neighbor came over and said, “I want to talk to you about the drum playing.” We discussed it and he said his wife wasn’t feeling well and wanted to know if we could “tone it down a bit” after 9pm when they go to bed. I thought this was a reasonable request and agreed. He wasn’t confrontational. We even had a pleasant conversation afterward.

This weekend, the band came over for practice. Drums, Bass, Electric guitar, etc. About 4pm, the police knocked on the door and told us that they’d had a complaint about noise and to “keep it down”. Then, today, the same neighbor came over and spoke to my partner about the noise. He said that his wife is 2 months pregnant and hasn’t been feeling well. He asked us to please stop the noise. He said his wife gets off work at 3pm and wants to relax when she gets home, not listen to a teenage alternative band practicing. My partner responded that the noise is kept at a reasonable level and that it’s unreasonable to expect us to refrain from making any noise at 3pm because his wife wants to relax. I want to reiterate that the band does not practice at full blast. Obviously, the neighbors can hear something, but I can’t imagine that it’s that overwhelming. I checked with our other neighbors and they said they couldn’t hear anything from the band.

The neighbor then suggested that we move the band into our soundproof room. (We have one soundproof bedroom). However, we use it as an office and way too small for a band anyway. We did offer to move the drums to the opposite side of the room to see if that helps, it’s a huge room.

Would it be reasonable for me to knock on their door at 4pm and ask them to please refrain from taking a nap because we want to practice the drums? I’ve checked online for noise ordinances for Chesterfield, VA, but cannot find anything specific. Other nearby communities have noise ordinances that state that noise must cease anywhere from 9pm til 11pm.

Any advice or opinions? We’re not trying to be ugly, but we feel that the band should continue with practicing at an agreed upon noise level. We don’t want to alienate ourselves from the neighbors, but probably have already.


They must be feeling oversensitive because she’s pregnant. It’s unreasonable to expect a family neighborhood to be noise free at 3 pm on a weekend. What next, are they going to tell the people across the street with small children that they aren’t allowed to play outside in the afternoon after school?

With that said, you might want to go over during the next band practice and listen to what they can actually hear from their house - sound can do strange things, and it might be louder over there than you are imagining.

I’m an old fuddy-duddy, but yes, the band should not practice in a residential neighborhood at volume levels that are disturbing to the house next door. Yes, go for yourself to hear what it’s like. If it’s audible, it’s too loud.

Especially the 5 hours of drumming. Good lord. Were it me, and if I had a large and vicious dog, I’d seriously have considered sending it over to visit.

If you were sure they were going to limit it to, say, one hour, try alerting the neighbors to the fact that next Wednesday the band will be practicing from 3 to 4, or whatever. No amps. Perhaps compromise on a time frame during which they will be willing to tolerate it (and not call the cops) in return for the young people’s keeping it strictly to the agreed-upon time frame.

Children playing normally outdoors is a lot different than an amateur band.

I don’t see anything wrong with a teen band practicing for a couple of hours on a weekend afternoon. Or even a weekday afternoon. No one should expect absolute noiselessness in a residential neighborhood in the afternoon. I feel for the pregnant lady, I’ve been there, it sucks. But she can’t expect the rest of the block to accommodate her pregnancy.

I agree with MLS, though, that 5 hours straight of just drums would drive me bonkers. I would think solo drum practice limited to 1-2 hrs tops, mid afternoon would be about all I could take in one sitting, pregnant or not.

One can always muffle the sound of drums. If your son don’t know how, he’s fibbing.

I don’t know about where you live, but in my home town, the noise ordinance is such that your music/construction noise, etc is not allowed to be heard further than 50 feet (IIRC the distance correctly).

Bands, even if kept to what the homeowner believes is “not too loud”, can be noisy, distorted, and very irritating to other neighbors.

Like another poster said, go a few doors down from where the band is practicing, and imagine yourself, home from work trying to rest from a headache or just trying to watch TV or something.

Put yourself in the other guy’s shoes so to speak, be honest with yourself, would YOU want to have to listen to an annoying several hours long noise ???(3pm to 8pm? that’s a really long time).

This never seems to be a problem in my neighborhood, as far as noise goes my block is pretty noisy cars with stereos turned all the way up, packs of young children playing, noisy birthday parties, etc but then again I’m sort of poor and your sort of rich and the more money you have the more uptight you are.
Isn’t there a way where you could make a deal that the band could practice only for a half hour or that or you could go to his house and when the band is playing and together find what an acceptable noise level is. :wink:

Is it just once a week or so that the band practices? If it’s just about every day, I can see it being annoying. But once a week I’d think they could handle if it’s only for a few hours. 5 hours does sound like too much. I’d also check out how noisy it really is for your neighbors. As previously mentioned, it may be louder than it seems.

Regardless of the hours in local noise ordinances, you should probably stop anything noisy by about 7:00 pm or so to allow your neighbors to have dinner and a relaxing evening.

Is there any way you could let your neighbors know ahead of time that the band would like to practice on a certain day each week during pre set hours? Sometimes people are much more agreeable if they feel they’ve been consulted ahead of time.

You mentioned that you have one soundproofed room. Is there anything you could add to the room used for practice to muffle the sound a bit? Even if it doesn’t eliminate it entirely, just showing that you’ve done something can make your neighbors feel they’ve won some small victory.

I’d also suggest asking your other neighbors if the sound is bothering them. It could be annoying everyone, in which case you’d want to do something to avoid being the neighborhood nuisance. Or it could be just one grumpy couple. We have one grouchy neighbor who constantly complains about kids playing, dogs barking, the ice cream truck going through the neighborhood, my other neighbor on his motor cycle leaving for work in the morning, anything that makes any noise at all. Of course, this same complaining neighbor is out at 7:00 am every Saturday and Sunday running his very noisy lawnmower and trimmer (I have no idea what models he owns, but everyone agrees that his is noisier than anyone else’s). So we pretty much ignore him.

The band practices weekly, however they alternate between 4 band members homes. So, basically they practice once a month at our house.

It’s is indeed a good idea to let them know beforehand that the band will be playing. We’ll do that.

Knocking on your neighbor’s door and asking her to stop napping now so your son can play the drums would be extremely rude, as I’m sure you know. I hope you aren’t seriously proposing doing that.

Will you still feel the same way about neighbors accepting one another’s childrens’ noise when the baby is a year old and colicky? I think having set a precedent of doing everything you can not to be annoying would stand you in good stead in that situation.

Otherwise, imagine the vengeance they could wreak upon you. Is your bedroom window anywhere near their nursery window?

I may be totally wrong here, but in my experience, police won’t knock, unless they’ve listened to the noise and agree that it’s excessive.

I think the dB level that’s allowable in most residential levels is pretty low - that is, kids playing, dogs barking, people having a BBQ are OK. Cars backfiring, people partying, bands playing, OTOH, are probably over the limit.

I have to say, had you been my neighbour, after an hour of drums I would have asked you to keep it down - that truely would drive me nuts.

A band playing is whole different kettle of fish (IMO) than most other types of intermittent noise. It’s heavy on the bass and that can go a lot further than you think, but the issue is mainly the duration. Five hours of a teenage band (esp with drums) practicing intermittently, 15 feet away from my house, would be pretty obnoxious, and I can see how it would get on someone’s nerves in a residential neighborhood, even in the afternoon.

I wouldn’t want to have to listen to some shitty high school band next to my house either. A person has the right to be able to sleep in her own home whenever she wants. Noise is an intrusion into another person’s home. I would call the cops on you every single time. Let little Lars Ulrich rent a practice space like a decent human being.

BTW, going to someone’s house and asking them not to sleep is unbelievably rude.

Having been on the receiving end of too much neighborly noise, I can tell you that, legally, a person has the right to “quiet enjoyment” of their home.
For you to assume 5 straight hours of drums would be okay with anybody, now that’s just silly. If you were my neighbor, I’d right now be plotting my revenge involving lots of power tools in early morning hours.
I know ALOT of bands have to rent out practice spaces, why shouldn’t your son’s?

Here’s an idea:

Go to the noise-sensitive neighbors. Tell them the teenage son in your household wants to hold band practice once a month at your home, but you understand this is troublesome to the neighbors in question. Offer to limit the son’s time making noise - then offer to buy the neighbor’s lunch at a mid-price family restaurant, or pay for them to go to a movie of their choice so they will not be bothered by this noise, or some similar activity where the total cost is under $30. Also tell these two neighbors the deal is on the q-t and is off if they start advertising the “free lunch”. The band gets their full, agreed upon practice time even if said neighbors come home early.

The teenager and/or band as a whole can pay for this. Tell them it’s called “renting your practice space”. A concept they will have to become used to if they desire a career in music.

One of two things will happen - either the band will stop practicing at your house, finding cheaper digs elsewhere, or else the noise-sensitive neighbors will start looking forward to the band showing up.

Will it work? I don’t know – it’s just an idea. A lot depends on the neighbors.

I’ve got a few suggestions:

  1. Check to see if you can add some soundproofing materials to the room that your son’s band plays in – maybe some acoustic tiles all over the surface of the walls and ceilings?

  2. Ask a doctor what earplugs would block the sound, buy such earplugs and give them to the noise sensitive couple?

Hope you find a mutually beneficial solution.

I was just kidding. I would never actually do that.

Same in my experience.

My main problem with the OP’s band practice would be with the five hours of drumming. Unless these are unusually quiet drums, that would rank right up there with gas-powered leafblowers.

I live in a similar neighborhood situation not too far from you, actually (in Hanover), and I know of at least 2 houses on this street that have kids partaking in band practice each weekend. I don’t think there have been any complaints, but then again, not many people are home around here on the weekends.

Welcome to the area!

Here’s a realistic option, Drum kit mutes

and also TURN DOWN THE DAMN VOLUME ON THE BASS!! :stuck_out_tongue: