Here’s my simple solution to those summer noisy neighbour rows
- Credit: Archant
Opinion: One person's summer 'outdoor living' is another person's noise misery. But the solution is simple, says Rachel Moore.
Summer brings a whole load of social conundrums.
'Outdoor living', as the lifestyle writers call spending time in the 'room outside' – the garden, to you and I - throw up a thorny tangle of etiquette issues, which, got wrong, could easily end up in neigbourly blow-ups.
Conundrum number one: What time is too early to fire up the noisy petrol mower on a Sunday morning?
Is it anti-social and inconsiderate to the neighbours to get an early start on weekend jobs and give the front hedge a trim before The Archers Omnibus?
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The working week is demanding and there's a long to-do list every weekend. Time is precious and that 8am slot is crying out to be filled by a garden job.
But will it upset the neighbours?
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Conundrum number two: When do you call time on summer evenings in the garden with friends? You're not responsible if your neighbour is always in bed by 8.30pm by choice, but, if you know that neighbour has to be up at 4.30am to get to work, you sort of are.
Serving drinks until 3am to hot tub guests with the Amazon Prime Summer Sounds hit list turned out to full volume is unneighbourly.
Conundrum number three: If you've planned a tree surgeon to take out four trees and he turns up with his chain saw on the afternoon the neighbours have a summer garden party, is it inconsiderate for him to start, when the neighbours didn't have the courtesy to warn you they would be having a garden full of people?
Summer and outdoor living isn't all about swanky rattan decking sofas, fire pits and pizza ovens, it's trigger for a long list of etiquette hazards and risk assessments for staying on good terms with the people you have to live next to.
One person's perfectly reasonable is another's downright inconsiderate.
One person's simple thoughtlessness is another's deliberate sabotage.
Someone's acceptable noise is another's almighty racket.
There's no guide book about not to hack-off the neighbours but get jobs done, it's down to common sense, and that's the problem; common sense isn't so common and our different thinking is laced with potential for offence.
You might think 7.30am at weekends is a fair time to start hammering nails in the shed to hang up fairy lights. The neighbour, after a heavy week's work and a late night, might consider it the height of rudeness and the catalyst for a grumble or even the silent treatment.
With more people having little interaction with their neighbours, there's potential for simmering feuds to escalate to full-on war, simply because they never speak to each other.
When are small children too loud? Sun and fun go together. They can't be expected to play silently.
But are the shouty family pushing their luck with neighbourly harmony?
Parking on a trip to Cromer one sunny Saturday, music blasting out of a nearby garden would have set a noise pollution officer's noiseometer soaring. Clearly thoughtless and disruptive to the entire road.
But there are no laws regulating the annoying interruption of garden tools and after-dark laughter; therein lies the problem.
A peaceful Saturday evening glass of fizz on the patio could end up as an all-night Ibiza session as next-door pumps up the volume for the barbecue after-party.
But it's reasonable that, if you're at work all week and have a garden to keep under control, you can't sit around all morning waiting for the neighbours' bedroom curtains to be open.
The answer is blindingly obvious but few of us get it and will do anything to avoid it. Just ask.
Knock on the door and have the conversation. No one minds politeness.
Explain to excited children how they need to think of the neighbours – it's what life is about.
And don't be afraid to be that neighbour who says 'enough is enough'.
I was mortified years ago when a couple living in the flat below mine slipped a note under my door saying I woke them up every morning with Radio 4's Today programme on my little Roberts Radio.
I had no idea, probably like the guy who lives above a friend and jogs around his wooden-floored flat.
It's all about communication and loving thy neighbour, which isn't a bad place to start.