if you are thinking of buying a new apartment in Romania, read on.
There are many things to consider that are well documented & easy to find a list of things to check for on the internet, Facebook groups and so on. But one thing that is almost never discussed is the noise insulation quality of buildings. Or Fonic Isolation. This forgotten aspect can literally render your life unbearable, lead to domestic issues and even civil crimes.
I am.fortunate stay in an upmarket block in Baneasa for example, constructed by the same builders of Herastrau One development, so a very good builder on the market. But being on the ground floor with a car park below, I could never have dreamed the downsides to that. Every single person walking through the foyer, especially with heals may as well be doing so in my apartment. I hear every step as a hammer blow. 7am, 3am, 6pm, midnight, around the clock. It is as loud as the knock on a door sometimes. In the winter when people stamp off their snow, boom boom boom. In the summer they stay for a chat saying goodnight to visiting guests for example.
Because the floors & ceilings are stressed reinforced concrete, whose limited thickness is perhaps determined by load carrying requirements more than anything else, if someone walks across the floor in any of the 4 apartments above me or the 3 on my floor, you can both hear & or feel the movement. I even had a sensitive discussion with the lady above me about heels at 430am directly over my bedroom & she denied it. Months passed & while she was overseas, it happened again & it turned out to be a neighbour accross the hall, no where near my bedroom but the noise travels through the stressed concrete.
This morning, I am writing this at 630 am unable to sleep because I am staying in a brand new apartment in Brasov’s upcoming Tractorul area near Coressi Mall. One can hear conversations in the next flat, above & below, like they are in the next room.
The art of Fonic Isolation is not a topic included much in current or recent past Romanian construction. Price per sq meter, location, bathroom features, number of wall sockets, window size, door quality, wood floor type, colour & thickness are factors, along with credit source, cost of parking, distance to public transport and so on. But window grade, floor thickness, wall materials, ceiling insulation & even the all important gap size under doors is not discussed. If the door is an Usa Metalica, it gets a tick in the buyer’s/renter’s check list. But the fact is completely empty inside is not considered.
Waking to a neighbours baby at 5am, dining chairs dragging at 7am, loud TV at midnight on a Sunday, music, shouting etc will directly affect your health, work performance & relationships, every day you spend in the property. Like getting the wrong size shoes, you owe it to yourself to do as much research as possible on a new property before you buy. Last week I stayed in the Shop Hotel, Weybrdige, a very nice historic place, but I had to change rooms during my one week stay for work because my neighbour’s were in a boozy & romanitc long weekend. I won’t describe the experience but I was felt part of their weekend!
Talk.to neighbours, ask in facebook, post a questionaire through the mailbox of the block. Try to spend a night in the block even on a camp bed or better, rent first.
There are some things you can do & if you get in early enough, you can even pay extra to ask for fonic isolating plasterboard to be used. In the UK, it is common for block management companies to forbid wooden floors in flats, insisting on carpets rather than laminate floors. Sadly, carpets are rare in Romania. It is a small market currently but it would solve a lot of neighbour tension. You can even try to convince developers of this at the early stages. Elsewhere in this blog is an article on how to resolve neighbour disputes which may prove helpful if you are stuck in this situation.
Whatever you do, do some homework. Good luck.