Neighbours have squabbles over parking, and disputes about fences and trees, but it's widely accepted that noise is right up there on the list of things that can seriously rile those who live nearby.

Today I'm going to focus on suburban concerns but I'm not sure the countryside is much more relaxing. I've lived in the country and, honestly, by the time you've been woken up by crowing roosters, crack-of-dawn tractors and those wind-machines that orchardists and grape-growers use to keep frost at bay you're almost longing for the serenity of the city.

Here are my top six annoying noises that can disturb the peace in the 'hood.

1. Alarms

There is no better sleep disrupter than an alarm which, you know, is why we set one when we need to wake up early. But when we're woken by malfunctioning alarms from cars or houses in the neighbourhood, it is most disconcerting. They go on for what seems like forever. They finally stop. There is silence at last. Then just as you're nodding off to sleep again the alarm recommences its piercing screech. It almost does my head in.


Note to people with alarms: Those who hear your alarms are never alarmed; we are merely annoyed and sometimes very cross about the fact that you put the safety of your possessions ahead of everyone else's desire for sleep.

2. Dogs

The sound of dogs barking or howling incessantly can really lower your quality of life. It's not great for the dog either. Constant barking and howling is usually a sign that a dog is stressed. I'm always amazed at how dog owners can be in denial about this issue. They think that because their dog is quiet and happy when they're at home with it that the dog must behave the same when it's on its own. Wrong. I once lived next door to a dog that when left alone stood at its gate staring at the road and barking ferociously at every single thing - tradesmen, children, cars, pedestrians, ants, invisible monsters - that moved in the street. Its owners seemed oblivious to their pet's distress and the stress it was causing other people.

3. Loud music

I understand the notion that when you're partying music simply cannot be too loud. But if you crank up your stereo at midnight and open all your doors and windows I cannot guarantee that you have not just initiated what I like to call a Complaint-to-Noise-Control situation.

4. Musical instruments

I used to live next door to someone who gave drumming lessons. To children. At his house. Regularly. It wasn't good.

5. Fireworks

I don't think many people would mind if backyard firework celebrations were restricted to a couple of key dates in the calendar. Then people could make arrangements for their pets and just suck up the inconvenience for a set period of time. But as it stands, crackers are let off indiscriminately at any time of the day or night. The noise disturbs other residents and terrifies animals but the perpetrators care not.

6. Machinery

Most people accept the noise associated with home renovations and building work during business hours. After all, it's a good thing if properties in the street are being improved. But when chainsaws, loud machinery, shouting workers and the beeping of reversing trucks disturb the peace on residential streets in evenings and at weekends it can be a nuisance.


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