TRAFFIC NOISE

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kah
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New to this site - I am a Canadian and have a beautiful century farmhouse on a 64 acre property north east of Toronto. It has been my desire to open a Guest House on the property but I have always been concerned with the traffic noise in the area. My farmhouse is situated quite close to the road, as they were when this home was built. The road has quite a bit of morning commuter traffic so when the windows are open, you can definately hear the cars streaming by. I am situated close to a major highway as well with the pervailing winds bringing that traffic noise in especially when the air is damp.

Personally, I am bothered by the noise and have been looking to re-locate but can not find another property as well suited for what I would like to do as  this one. An accoustical engineer told me that some people are just more sensitive to noise than others. My question to this forum is whether anyone else has had a similar concern and if it has affected their business. Perhaps I am being too sensitive.

My location if perfect as I am central to a number of towns in the area yet the setting is very rural. I have a lovely home, which I believe would lend itself well to this type of business. All pine floors, 12 foot ceilings, large windows with lovely trim. I have a 20' x 20' sunroom on the back of the house which is shaded by a huge black walnut tree and offers views of my horses grazing in their paddocks.

I would greatly appreciate any feedback on the noise issue. It is not all of the time but visually we have such a tranquil setting and yet sometimes I can hear the trucks changing gears on the highway or just a drone of traffic noise which to me spoils the enviornment.

Thank you.

Kathryn

Silverspoon's picture
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This is a very old thread!

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PhineasSwann's picture
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We passed on buying one inn because of road noise. We knew many guests wouldn't have a problem with it, but some would. 

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Facing same problem.

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You can be rural and still in a town, it is most difficult to express your location to almost everyone. Saying farmhouse on 64 acres no one will except road noise. I would be clear about it, however you word it.

If you are in a small town that happens to use your road as a short cut to go to the mill every morning and evening during the week, well you might have to spell it out.  COUNTRY ROADS ARE COUNTRY ROADS.

I would not be happy if I stayed in a  B&B with no forewarning of noise. By noise, I mean man-made noise, not cows or birds and crickets.  But if you say you are in-town (and btw being iN TOWN is a good thing, being out where no one ever knows you are there may not be as great when it comes to occupancy) so use it to your benefit! Let people know you are there, get the biggest nicest sign you are allowed!

I was at SHOT TOWER STATE PARK which is an historic park on the New River in VA (no overnight lodging or anything) and right next to it is I-77 and there was a back up of semi's as far as the eye could see AND HEAR.  It absolutely ruined my historic moment for me.  I went, I saw, I left. I was not thrilled with a trail of trucks nearby.

So whatever you do, say it in a way that is clear and when people say "You never said..." You can assure them you have it clearly stated on your website and other materials.  If not, then get ready to refund money.  I would not say anything, but I would prob write a TA review about it later on, esp if I was on NO SLEEP due to noise.

All the best!

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Joey Camb's picture
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we are right on a road however put in ultra thick double glazing last year which helps a lot - the main noise problem is (a) its super quiet then one idiot drunk shouts really loud and breaks the silence or (b) once or twice last week next doors dog got out and started barking and as its a french bull mastif its really loud in the silence! had to ring her and tell her to shut the dog up! was really cross at 2am on a saturday night!

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seashanty's picture
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i've been thinking about this post for a bit ...

i have to sleep with a white noise machine or a fan ... on high ... i've been this way for years.

i go crazy with lots of sounds. 

out in the country, if it's too quiet, i can't sleep. 

sounds crazy, doesn't it? 

in the city, sounds of conversation, traffic, younameit, i can't sleep either.

i'm dependent on the hum of something to mask the sounds.

i used to warn my guests that they were coming to a working harbor and that the lobstermen and fishermen headed out very very early in the morning and were not quiet ... ever ... so i did have fans for humming etc ... also, trucks made early morning deliveries across the road.  so they should try to get up with the sun and go to bed early.

i expected complaints from guests about all the noise ... it bothered me a lot ...

but i had NO complaints. my guests tended to come from cities and places with constant traffic and lights, the hum of it underneath all the time.  they were not disturbed.

so even though you worry your potential guests will be bothered by the hum of traffic, they might not be. 

just a thought.

 

 

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Arks's picture
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(hijack mode) We've had people visit here from Kansas who said our hills and trees were "closing in" on them, making them uncomfortable. They're used to the great treeless plains of Kansas. (/hijack mode)

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gillumhouse's picture
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Have had Flatlanders tell me the same thing about here. I tell them our hills are saying -"That's OK, honey, I am here to take care of you." We very, very rarely have tornados because our hills protect us.

Breakfast Diva's picture
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We are in a rural location. I understand your concern, because most travelers see rural and acreage and will just assume it's quite. For us, some guests are taken aback because our main house is near the road. We also have a rec area a mile away and in the summer and busy weekends, you can hear the buzzing of the vehicles out there. It drives myself and DH batty because we are so used to it being quiet here most of the time. Some guests comment about the buzzing, but typically it's not a make or break situation.

It's funny, it will have been a very busy time for the road and the rec area, then we'll get a review commenting on how peaceful and quite it was here! I think that's because inside the house, it's quiet. Most folks who live in a city are used to sounds, so their brains are tuned out to noise. Those of us who live in quiet are more annoyed. Now, if it's traffic noise all night, that might be a problem. The suggestings others have given you for sound reduction are all good ones.

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Unfortunately,  noise is a part of life no matter where you're located.   We're in the woods at least 3 miles from the loop that circles our town and, depending on weather conditions,  we can still occasionally pick up road noise.

Our biggest noise maker are the frogs in and around our pond.   The only word to describe the experience is "cacophony".   Your best bet would to do what you can to sound proof your guest house.

We did this when building and with the doors and windows shut,  all sound is drowned out. 

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City people complain it is TOO quiet. An the frogs etc would freak them out as NOISE where semis, sirens, backfires (for some gun shots) would be normal sounds that they would never hear. The only noise I would be concerned about would be the rumble of a train and its whistle and being in the glide path of an airport.

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Once upon a time we had a guest call who wanted absolute silence. She asked about road noise. Other guests. People talking in the street. She wanted to be nowhere near street noise at all. She then asked about a B&B on the water. So I told her she'd have to hear the lobstermen going out in the morning and the ferry taking people to work. She said she lived in the middle of 50 acres and never heard any human sounds and didn't want to on vacation. I wished her well in her search for a 'no human noise' vacation.

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Joey Camb's picture
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this was a problem on the 3 in a bed show one of the owners BB's was in the middle of nowhere so was making people down for what I would call very quiet traffic noise which frankly I didn't feel was fair - it wasn't the bb's fault it was the fussy persons fault!

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 Have stayed at places that were noisy, but Never complained about it to host because it is what it is. They can't help that there is traffic noise.To provide white noise in the room would be a pleasant surprise for me. I usually take earplugs and sleeping pills with me when we travel just in case it is too noisy. Living out where there is no noise but frogs and cicadas, most every where we go is too noisy for me.

kah
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Wow that you so much for all of the great input. I had thought of the "White Noise" but did not know anyone who had used it. As we are in the country with no other buildings around, we get lovely breezes through the house so on many summer nights it would be a shame to close the windows. I do not have central air but am looking into heating and cooling with a ground source heat pump.

The discussion offered great info re sleeping - I was wondering if people would find it offensive if they want to have breakfast on the patio or sit out for the afternoon. Now granted it is not as intense as some of you have noted but when marketing "a country property" one would think of a place with less noise perhaps but then again, I can offer the atmosphere a 20 minute drive from downtown so there is that.

Thanks again everyone - I will be reading this site regularly.

 

Kathryn

 

 

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Kathryn!  We had an urban inn and didn't have a lot of street noise really, but we do have trains here.  They are several streets away, but could disturb guests.  We have storm windows (a definite help) and a central HVAC system.  I also had ear plugs in the room, clock/radios with MP3 player docks, and CD's in the rooms.  Rooms without ceiling fans had floor fans for air movement and white noise. 

Look at all the people that sit outside now in busy cities to dine or enjoy a beverage.  It is what it is...

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muirford's picture
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 We have an inn on a busy corner in town.  All of our most desirable rooms - king/queen beds, ensuite baths - have at least one window on the street side.  The building is 1800s brick and very soundproof, actually, but the windows are a problem.  Sleeping with windows open at night is not recommended, and if someone tells me they are a light sleeper, I try to impress upon them that we are in town and there is traffic noise.    I recommend some other 'country' inns for them or recommend that they take one of the two non-street rooms.  Our website states which rooms are quieter.  Here are the things we do to help combat the problem:

  • all the windows have storm windows.  
  • we have central air conditioning but provide fans in the rooms. Some people like them for white noise.
  • in the two rooms that front the noisiest street, we have added an additional pane on the inside of the window, like these.  We tried them out on our room first (which has windows onto the street to see if they helped, and they do, a lot.  In the two guest rooms we put them in we left one window open for an emergency exit, either in the bathroom or on the non-street side.
  • In the noisiest room, we recently upgraded to a king bed and blocked one of the windows with insulation, which provides an addtional noise barrier.  Also, I think the king bed helps people sleep better because they don't get as much disturbance from their partner, so they aren't bothered by noise as much.
  • we have ambient noise and brown noise cds in all the rooms that can be played in the cd player.  I use one myself most times and have one for travel.  They are popular and one guest just bought one from me because he said it helped with his tinnitus.

With all those things, we don't get many complaints.  We have relatively high occupancy and strong repeat business. The noisiest room is very popular with some of our repeat guests.  The noise definitely lessens at night.  I just wish I could get guests to close their room doors quietly.

Some B&Bs near train tracks provide disposable foam ear plugs for their rooms.  We haven't gone that far but you could try it.  I personally can't wear ear plugs as I have tinnitus myself and they make it worse, so the white noise is best for me.

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 We have those type of windows on some of ours here. Love them!  I have tinnitus now  too and i fall asleep with my I pod playing white noise / mostly rain  or running water sounds.

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catlady wrote:
 white noise / mostly rain  or running water sounds.

Those sounds make me have to pee.    I use an ambient sleep loop that is more like wind, and I always have a fan going.

Madeleine's picture
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It takes me a couple of days to get used to the fan running again. I JUST put it in the window a couple of days ago. Now I will run it until Oct. And then have a hard time sleeping without it.

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Street noise drives me nuts. We passed on buying an inn on a major truck route in a small town because of the noise. With wondows closed you could make sure you have really good windows in place or really good storms if you don't want to replace antique windows.

For summer, provide a fan in the room to create a white noise cone. As long as the fan is a gentely hum and not a whirring noise.

Before you get totally invested in it, try quietly renting rooms out for tourists to see how it goes. My old town used to take the phone numbers of hoemowners willing to put up tourists in peak seasons. You didn't need a license for that as it was 'temporary'. 

It would give you a sense of what it's like to have strangers in the house and if the noise bothers them as well.

Arks's picture
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We've had good luck with these white noise machines. A couple of years ago I stayed a week at a guesthouse in Hawaii that had the same model. The island is covered in roosters (it's the only island with wild chickens running all over the place, thank goodness) and I couldn't have slept without the white noise machines. They really work. Great to mask barking dogs in the night, too.

seashanty's picture
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 oh, and 

seashanty's picture
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 only with windows open? What about with a/c running does it mask the traffic? Are all rooms on side of house where traffic sounds are loudest? My room is on the street side, other rooms in this house are much quieter that are not.

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 Our Inn is in a quiet area, but my house is right against the highway.  Re: Noise - I know there are plenty of times when I can't even hear my television over the noise.  And in the morning, I am shocked to hear how loud we had the TV the night before as a result.  Even with the windows closed, I can still hear the traffic.  We get alot of 18-wheeler/semi traffic because we are the only highway in the area and it's amazing how load they are.  

I would recommend that you get a decibel reader and see just how load the noise is registering.   Compare that to noise ratings for various appliances, events, levels causing damage, etc. just to get an unbiased view of how loud it really is.  You might have a secondary issue if people are having to crank up radios or TVs - the other guests might get upset about that.  You also might want to consider having white-noise generators in the rooms.  I had a doctor who used them in his practice to hide his conversations with his other patients.  It wasn't load, but was just enough to mask the other noises.

Is there any way to build a sound barrier either with materials (concrete, rock) or plants?  

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 Honestly, for me..yes it would be an issue because I am a light sleeper.  The only time of day it could be a problem is at night. Most guests won't be in the house during the day. But if you had double pane windows which could cut out the noise when someone is in the room that would help. Air conditioner could drown out noises.  

There are plenty of B & B's in the middle of big cities with tons of traffic noise etc.  It would be the way you market it. 

Before you do any thing, better check with local town / zoning to see if you can even do a B& B there.

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