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Noise from HDB Neighbor (Would Condos be different?)

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byseeksconseil
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Noise from HDB Neighbor (Would Condos be different?)

Postby byseeksconseil » Sat, 15 Dec 2012 5:39 pm

Hi,

I realize that there is another thread on this page about noisy neighbors. But I think my questions are a little different. So I am starting my own.

I came (back) to Singapore in October and moved into an HDB unit last month (renting the entire flat myself). I am having noise issues with the family living above me (4 of them). First of all, they walk with very heavy footsteps (like elephants). Second, I hear furniture being dragged throughout the day.

I feel disturbed and find it difficult to deal with. I have talked to the family twice. But there has been little improvement. I am thinking of the next two steps. 1) Approach HDB for help (I know there is mediation available - I see it on the HDB website) 2) If mediation is not successful, I will move out (probably) to a condo unit (or rather, just a bedroom in a condo unit).

My specific questions are the following:

1) Is it ok for me (the tenant) to approach HDB about the noise problem? Or, would it be more effective if the landlord does it?

The upstairs family owns their unit. I am renting mine. My agent says that it would be better for the landlord to handle the matter for me. My landlord says she is willing to do that, but at the same time, she says she would only be relaying messages, and that things might get confusing. Therefore, she says it would be more effective if I approach HDB myself, which I don't mind actually.

What do you think?

2) If I move into a condo unit, would the footsteps noise problem disappear?

I read from somewhere that some HDB units are made from cheap materials (HDB walls would float on water, I read). Therefore, I was wondering if condos are made from sturdier materials and therefore can absorb footstep noises better.

Indeed, before I moved into this HDB flat last month, I was living in a condo room as temporary accommodation. I did not hear a thing from above when I was living there, footsteps or otherwise. Of course this could mean a lot of things (maybe nobody was living above at the time?). But one possibility is that the materials in condos are better in terms of noise insulation.

What do you think?

I said earlier that I came back to Singapore. In fact, several years ago, I stayed in Singapore for 3 years as a student. For 1 year, I was living in a condo unit; For the remaining 2, I was living in an HDB flat. I did not hear anything from my neighbors above. I am quite surprised that I am hearing footsteps from the family above this time, considering that the floors here are made of concrete (unlike those in the US, for instance, where floors are made from wood – those are really bad).

Lastly,

3) If I have to break the lease, would my agent be obligated to return the agent fees to me?

The lease does not say anything about it, neither does the document which I signed with my agent. The receipt they gave me for the agent fee says it is not refundable. But I would like to know more about the the common practice.

Thanks a lot!

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Postby Wd40 » Sat, 15 Dec 2012 7:06 pm

This is the 3rd hdb flat we are renting, but coincidently all 3 have been top floors, haha. So no elephant steps to deal with, however we have to deal with heat, unless there is a water tank directly above our flat. But the breeze and light are better in the top floor and also most importantly the ceiling height is about 1 ft higher in the top floor. So net net top floors are not so bad yet most tenants shun it.

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Postby offshoreoildude » Sat, 15 Dec 2012 8:01 pm

HDB flats are cages for the working mice. What do you expect?
Now I'm called PNGMK

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Postby nakatago » Sat, 15 Dec 2012 8:58 pm

offshoreoildude wrote:HDB flats are cages for the working mice. What do you expect?


I've seen condos that are smaller than Tokyo apaatoo!

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Postby offshoreoildude » Sat, 15 Dec 2012 9:01 pm

nakatago wrote:
offshoreoildude wrote:HDB flats are cages for the working mice. What do you expect?


I've seen condos that are smaller than Tokyo apaatoo!


Those are for the Lords of the Flies.
Now I'm called PNGMK

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Postby JR8 » Sun, 16 Dec 2012 1:02 am

Have you gone and introduced yourself to your neighbours, and - you know - ... tried speaking to them about your concern?

The longest journey begins with the first step.

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Postby byseeksconseil » Sun, 16 Dec 2012 12:00 pm

Hi, yes. I did talk to the family, twice (I think I mentioned this in one sentence in the post - but it was a long post so I can imagine how that can be skipped over).

But there has not been much improvement.

The first time, the father was trying to deny there was any noise from them ("Noise? Not really.", he said). The second time, the father blamed it on his 6-year-old son and said he did not want to see me any more.

The son was contributing to the problem by running and moving furniture. But I feel that the rest of the family were heavy walkers as well.

JR8 wrote:Have you gone and introduced yourself to your neighbours, and - you know - ... tried speaking to them about your concern?

The longest journey begins with the first step.

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Postby Wd40 » Sun, 16 Dec 2012 12:52 pm

I think it's something to do with poor acoustics design in hdb.
I don't think you can do anything about it if the noise is in the day time. I mean come on if my kid wants to play in my house, I wouldn't let anyone interfere with it. Thats our right.

But if this happens in the night and disturbs your sleep, then you have a case here. Otherwise I would say find a condo for yourself.

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Postby zzm9980 » Sun, 16 Dec 2012 1:32 pm

I've been extremely lucky in my HDB I guess. My neighbor is an old lady who is quieter than a mouse (in fact, she taught ME how to close my door quieter my first week here :D) and I'm in an end unit. I can recall two times in 18 months I even heard the neighbor above... Both times it sounded like they were building Ikea furniture at 2am, but I let it go. My major noise complaint is the road noise from ECP, but that would affect any condo near me also.

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Postby byseeksconseil » Sun, 16 Dec 2012 1:56 pm

I do understand that parents can become defensive when it comes to their children's behavior, which is why I did not even say anything that would resemble blaming/berating the family in my post. I knew other parents would say something like you did.

I will only say here in the reply that while the family's children have the right to play, I have my entitlement to peace and quiet as well, which you may or may not agree is fair.

But thanks for the suggestion about condo.



Wd40 wrote:I think it's something to do with poor acoustics design in hdb.
I don't think you can do anything about it if the noise is in the day time. I mean come on if my kid wants to play in my house, I wouldn't let anyone interfere with it. Thats our right.

But if this happens in the night and disturbs your sleep, then you have a case here. Otherwise I would say find a condo for yourself.

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Postby sundaymorningstaple » Sun, 16 Dec 2012 2:03 pm

ZZM, that's my problem as well, my neighbours above and beside me are relatively quiet (although one used to have a very noisy Jack Russell (but only when left alone in the house) and a young boy with OTT temper tantrums. Both have subsided in recent years, however, the rest of the estate is a problem. But what to do? Don't like it? Move. Or adapt. Or a combination of the above..

byseeksconseil
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Postby byseeksconseil » Sun, 16 Dec 2012 2:25 pm

Well, you are very lucky then, but then so was I when I was living in my previous HDB flat in Singapore several years ago – I did not hear a thing from my neighbor above.

Traffic noise could be a problem, which is why I specifically factored this into my consideration when searching for a place in November. I excluded places that are near major roads.

I was however not able to foresee the noise problems from upstairs neighbors. I was not expecting to hear the annoying footsteps partly because of my previous experience living in HDB, and partly because I did not think footsteps should be transmitted through concrete floors (when I was living in a different country, I consciously chose to live on the top floor because wood floors are so bad at noise/vibration absorption).

But still, I am hoping that people with relevant experience can advise me on the specific questions i raised.

Thanks.




zzm9980 wrote:I've been extremely lucky in my HDB I guess. My neighbor is an old lady who is quieter than a mouse (in fact, she taught ME how to close my door quieter my first week here :D) and I'm in an end unit. I can recall two times in 18 months I even heard the neighbor above... Both times it sounded like they were building Ikea furniture at 2am, but I let it go. My major noise complaint is the road noise from ECP, but that would affect any condo near me also.

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Postby Wd40 » Sun, 16 Dec 2012 2:55 pm

Like I said in my 1st post in this thread, the ceiling height of HDBs that are not top floor are really pathetic. I mean you cant even install a cieling fan and be safe, even if you are an average asian height, you just lift your hands and you can touch the fan, its that bad.

Seriously, HDBs are cheap housing. Imagine many of the units dont even have lift level handing so i really wouldnt be surprised that they didnt design to make it sound proof. So even if someone walk normally it can get echoed due to bad acoustics and that is a design problem, nothing wrong with what the people above your unit are doing. I mean there is no law that can prevent someone from running around in their own house.

There is a reason why condos are priced at a premium to HDBs, its not only about the amenities.

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Postby sundaymorningstaple » Sun, 16 Dec 2012 3:16 pm

You really haven't investigated how condos are built here then, obviously. Their construction isn't much different than HDB's. The big difference is most condo come with Aircon preinstalled and a fair number have wall to wall carpeting or wooden floors which when laid over a substrate the way they are designed to be here that will usually reduce the knockon effect of hard objects being dragged around. (usually the floors are of a wooden parquet type of affair rather than a strip wooden floor like in the west so are fastened to some sort of substrate rather than directly to the concrete floor - like tiles and marble/granite are). Most noise isn't from walking jumping of children as most Asians wear no footwear in the home.

One thing that really helps are the special funiture pads made of the hard silicone that slides very easily and silently. Wooden chairs are bloody noisy without them.

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Postby Wd40 » Sun, 16 Dec 2012 3:29 pm

I have lived in condo room before. Biggest difference I see in addition to what you have mentioned are better ceiling heights, electrical wiring and plumbing pipes concealed inside the walls, so you dont hear water running down the pipe in your bathroom when someone from the floor above you flushes the toilet.


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