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Old 08.04.2012, 13:13
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Noise restrictions, How True????

Good day to you all and Happy Easter!
I have heard lots of stories about noise restrictions, especially on a Sunday, I even heard one story that said if you live above the ground floor you must pee sitting down so as not to make a noise, am sure someone was taking the pee.
Anyway, having been here a few months, nothing would actually suprise me anymore.
But, how true is it all, what i want to know is this:

Can I use my vacuum cleaner (Hoover for us Brits) on a Sunday, or am I likely to be hung drawn and quartered?

Anyone enlighten me?
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Old 08.04.2012, 13:20
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Re: Noise restrictions, How True????

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Good day to you all and Happy Easter!
I have heard lots of stories about noise restrictions, especially on a Sunday, I even heard one story that said if you live above the ground floor you must pee sitting down so as not to make a noise, am sure someone was taking the pee.
Anyway, having been here a few months, nothing would actually suprise me anymore.
But, how true is it all, what i want to know is this:

Can I use my vacuum cleaner (Hoover for us Brits) on a Sunday, or am I likely to be hung drawn and quartered?

Anyone enlighten me?
Oftern such rules are described in your rental contract or if you live in a house with several apartments then there is a set of printed house rules somewhere.
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Old 08.04.2012, 13:30
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Re: Noise restrictions, How True????

My place has house rules posted about not making a noise between 22:30 and 07:00, and not between 12:00 and 14:00.

It doesn't say anything about Sundays, but I think there is an unwritten rule that you don't do thinks like drilling and hammering on a Sunday. I think hoovering should be OK though.
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Old 08.04.2012, 13:32
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Re: Noise restrictions, How True????

That is a complicated one...
I grew up knowing not to make noise over lunch time, on a sunday or in the evenings after 10PM.

My english OH sticks to those rules more than I do and one of my swiss friends was surprised, those rules still existed.

I always stick to following:
Do what ever is needed for max 20 minutes. Nearly nobody will complain in that time or have the guts to ring your doorbell to tell you to shut up. And if you stick to it, they will know in the future that you will be finished in 20 minutes anyway!
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Old 08.04.2012, 13:41
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Re: Noise restrictions, How True????

There is quite a lot of discussion on this if you do a search.

Marton is right, that you will have rules set out in the contract and often posted in the entrance lobby. But my experience, based on a couple of years, is that there are two different things -- a) the rules and b) the application of the rules. A lot depends on the particular set of people and the particular hauswartin you have. We are fortunate to have an easygoing (or deaf) set of neighbours and a delightful hauswartin who couldn't be more friendly and helpful. Using the communal washing facilities on a Sunday is regarded as a no-no (perhaps because she is religious?), but other than that, people here are more than reasonable. I guess if I played my old Led Zep records loudly after midnight I'd have some comments, but that would be the same in the UK too.

You do hear less happy stories though, and the old wooden apartment buildings where noise travels seem stricter.

Stuff about sitting down to pee are total nonsense, yet much loved by lazy journos writing about expat life as they make good copy.
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Old 08.04.2012, 16:24
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Re: Noise restrictions, How True????

We have been here nearly a year, when I first came I was told of all sorts of rules about noise (i.e. when to do and not do stuff). I was told the Swiss were obsessed by quiet and not making noise at certain times of the day and night.

Since living here I have lived in two apartment blocks, both without caretakers. All of my immediate neighbours (i.e. those above, below and to the side), have never taken any notice of the rules. The majority of these people have been Swiss. Our current neighbours below have a complete disregard for any kinds of noise rules, only last night were they partying until 2am which is a regular occurrence.

Construction noise is also a regular occurrence in our block, being carried out at the supposed quiet lunch time hours.

It is of course up to you and your individual circumstances but I take little notice of such rules now.
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Old 08.04.2012, 16:40
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Re: Noise restrictions, How True????

Sod the rules

They are only used to ascertain power in the environment in which you live but in my experience very rarely consistently followed.

Being English, I come from a back ground whereby by and large people kept themselves to themselves but were friendly and helpful and courteous to their neighbours. You dont care what your neighbours do and dont do, and you dont make a habit of intruding into their business, you are pleasant and helpful where necessary but essentially leave each other alone. If you are going to have party, you might want to let people know or invite, but you dont not have party because of "rules".

In my block I was made aware of loads of new rules:

- dogs are never allowed to be left alone in apartments
- drying clothes on balcony in the sun is forbidden
- erecting a higher dividing blockade on terrace to maintain privacy is not allowed.
- leaving clothes in drying room, despite still wet, when it is not your wash day is the work of the devil
- Leaving canopies unwounded when not in the apartment is akin to murder
- not opening shutters by 10am is a potential sign of you having been murdered

Now I am aware that none of these things are really rules. They are power struggles and intrusive behviour. At the outset, you aim to form a cohesive unit and set about trying to please. In the end, you say I am not mug and being dictated to by people who dont seem to follow the rules themselves, why? Cause the rules do not really exist.
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Old 08.04.2012, 17:04
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Re: Noise restrictions, How True????

Just do as you want, to see what you can get away with.

You'll soon find out that you've overstepped the acceptable limit, when someone staples a note of complaint to your forehead.
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Old 08.04.2012, 18:14
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Re: Noise restrictions, How True????

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I always stick to following:
Do what ever is needed for max 20 minutes. Nearly nobody will complain in that time or have the guts to ring your doorbell to tell you to shut up. And if you stick to it, they will know in the future that you will be finished in 20 minutes anyway!
Good idea in principle - a few years ago, we had moved the kids trampoline in the garden (it is anchored down and it is a lengthy business to undo the tetherings and move it and practically impossible on your own) so my husband wanted to take advantage of it being moved to whizz over the 8 foot diameter spot with the lawnmower. In our Gemeinde, at the beginning of every summer, there is the reminder posted in the village newsletter that there are no rules regarding outside noise but just please do be thoughtful of your neighbours, particularly on a Sunday and if you are doing prolonged gardening work with machines on a Sunday, perhaps ask any nearby neighbours trying to enjoy their gardens first.

So back to story - it being a Sunday, husband had quick look in the few neighbouring gardens - no sign of anyone. It was around 11am, so he whisked out the lawnmower and had done precisely one 8 ft long strip when ... out came from their houses not one, not two but three different neighbours to complain. I swear they must have been watching him bring that mower round the corner and were poised, hand on garden door, waiting to pounce.

So yes, 20 minutes rule .. mmmhhh ... try 20 seconds ....
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Old 08.04.2012, 18:34
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Re: Noise restrictions, How True????

The peeing story is true. I live in a house where I know if men are standing or sitting while peeing.
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Old 08.04.2012, 18:34
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Re: Noise restrictions, How True????

Depends where you are. Here in our hamlet, no prob. Funnily enough, when my dad was still alive, none of the neighbours used heavy machinery, lawn mowers, chain-saws, strimmer, etc. Not because because he ever complained, but just simply out of respect for the older generation. As soon as he went into an OAP home to join my mum - hey ho - Sundays became a lot noisier. Nothing ever said, it just happened. We have great neighbours, and it really makes all the difference.

Thing is with rules, they go both ways. Much fun poked about flashing the loo after 10pm, and yet if you live in an poorly (older) poorly insulated building, and the downpipe is in the wall by your bed - well it actually makes sense. In the UK, my lovely and helpful neighbour (truly, no sarcasm) used to be an insomniac and would start hoovering at about 11pm. And it was a total pain, especially if OH had just done a stint of 2 days and 1 night working. I talked to her a few times, but bless here she just couldn't help it. In flats with parquet floors, high heels can be a total pain- tap tap tap, a bit like chinese torture, one reason Swiss people tend to work slippers in the home. I hate rules too- jut goes against the grain, and yet common sense should prevail. Do onto others as you would want them to do on to you, perhaps. If I had kids in an apartment I would invest in felt lining and wall to wall carpet with foam backing.

Sod the rules - well yes tempting. But don't be surprised if your lease is suddenly cut short.

Mind you, I really feel for you. I only lived in a flat once, when in London and for 2 years. I don't think I could stand it for very long, here, there or anywhere.

Last edited by Odile; 15.04.2012 at 22:05.
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Old 08.04.2012, 19:46
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Re: Noise restrictions, How True????

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Sod the rules - well yes tempting. But don't be surprised if your lease is suddenly cut short.
OR find you have a direct relationship with the real landlord as opposed to the property management company, who has reassured you that he has told the neighbour to never call him again, as in my case .
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Old 08.04.2012, 19:48
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Re: Noise restrictions, How True????

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Good idea in principle - a few years ago, we had moved the kids trampoline in the garden (it is anchored down and it is a lengthy business to undo the tetherings and move it and practically impossible on your own) so my husband wanted to take advantage of it being moved to whizz over the 8 foot diameter spot with the lawnmower. In our Gemeinde, at the beginning of every summer, there is the reminder posted in the village newsletter that there are no rules regarding outside noise but just please do be thoughtful of your neighbours, particularly on a Sunday and if you are doing prolonged gardening work with machines on a Sunday, perhaps ask any nearby neighbours trying to enjoy their gardens first.

So back to story - it being a Sunday, husband had quick look in the few neighbouring gardens - no sign of anyone. It was around 11am, so he whisked out the lawnmower and had done precisely one 8 ft long strip when ... out came from their houses not one, not two but three different neighbours to complain. I swear they must have been watching him bring that mower round the corner and were poised, hand on garden door, waiting to pounce.

So yes, 20 minutes rule .. mmmhhh ... try 20 seconds ....
But this is nothing that a two finger salute can't resolve.
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Old 08.04.2012, 20:21
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Re: Noise restrictions, How True????

As I found out in the first building I lived in, Swiss people can hoover on a Sunday but foreigners will get the book thrown at them. I'm still quite bitter about how the Swiss girl would steal people's washing days, never got called out by the building's self-appointed Integration Master, but I would get yelled at for "walking up the stairs too loud" on a Sunday.

Speaking of breaking the rules, our Hausordnung says no laundry on Sunday but my upstairs neighbors (the only other household actually in the building this weekend) are having a VERY LOUD house party. Part of me thinks that they are breaking the rules so won't mind a quick load of laundry, part of me says I am adding to growing incivility by being part of the problem.

(I've decided against doing the load of laundry)
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Old 08.04.2012, 22:57
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Re: Noise restrictions, How True????

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But this is nothing that a two finger salute can't resolve.
Well we still live there 5 years later so kind of glad we didn't go down that route right from the get go ...

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As I found out in the first building I lived in, Swiss people can hoover on a Sunday but foreigners will get the book thrown at them.
... yes .. definitely got a feeling at the beginning that the neighbours would try all sort of things on us simply because "you're not from round here so you need telling" but I kind of ruined their fun by learning Swiss German so now we get treated with quite a bit more respect ... there is nothing quite so off putting as Angry London Mummy With Attitude sprouting in pseudo Swiss German ...
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Old 08.04.2012, 23:27
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Re: Noise restrictions, How True????

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The peeing story is true. I live in a house where I know if men are standing or sitting while peeing.
When I am in the lav I am told that there are far more serious sound effects that may have a bearing on good neighbourly relations. Standing or sitting, this is the least of my concerns....
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Old 09.04.2012, 03:00
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Re: Noise restrictions, How True????

I decided to test the waters by having a guitar jam session at my flat this evening. was meant to end at 22.00, but ended at 2am. No police were called, so I fingers-crossed no post it notes in the morning...
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Old 09.04.2012, 08:30
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Re: Noise restrictions, How True????

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The peeing story is true. I live in a house where I know if men are standing or sitting while peeing.
Actually, you can tell if they're hitting the water or the ceramic ... both can be done from either the seated or standing position, depending on your desire.

As somebody else posted, there are other, far louder, noises which can be generated in the bathroom ...
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Old 09.04.2012, 11:27
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Re: Noise restrictions, How True????

Well I think it really depends where and which part of the country you live, Swiss Germans have a tendency to be more strict about these rules than in the French speaking part, many of the rumors about the rules are true, but some are also often exaggerated.

But here are some pointers for things you can easily get by:

  • Calling the cops to report disturbances costs the person (who calls) CHF 200.-, it usually results in a lot of paperwork (which bureaucrats love!) and I think the police usually has more pressing matters to take care of. So, from my experience, neighbors are usually tolerant if it happens once or once in a while, and mostly, they will get the super first before calling the cops.
  • When and if the cops are called, they won't necessarily knock on your door, they will usually simply drop the fine in your mailbox.
  • To be on the safe side, avoid using the vacuum in the evenings and on Sundays; avoid taking too long showers after 22:00, mind the volume of your voice whilst in halls and avoid coming home completely wasted (if a neighbor calls the cops, you might find yourself in a cell at the precinct for the rest of the night).
  • Then there are things Swiss people do out of habit when it's past 22:00. Those being: a) lower the volume of your TV or radio, b) closing the windows, c) avoiding to flush the toilet unless necessary
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Old 09.04.2012, 13:58
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Re: Noise restrictions, How True????

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Then there are things Swiss people do out of habit when it's past 22:00. Those being: a) lower the volume of your TV or radio, b) closing the windows, c) avoiding to flush the toilet unless necessary
I wish my (Swiss) neighbours did any of these. They have a habit of opening windows (and patio doors) very loudly at 11pm when they go out for their last smoke of the evening. And don't get me started on their music noise....
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