Be aware! Condo living may be noisy, says Condo Expert

Be aware! Condo living may be noisy, says Condo Expert.

Moving into a new Condo (or new to you) may be exciting but you may find unexpected problems, a warning from your concerned Home Inspector and Building Consultant.

Although “noise” should not necessarily become an issue, living in a condo building, with neighbours close by, does provide opportunities for noise problems. If possible, talk with those neighbours prior to purchasing the unit to find out how “noise resistant” the Units are.

Noise transmission is the number one social problem in Condos, in large part due to building code standards that are the bare minimum for an environment where people live in close proximity to each other.

The fundamental problem is that condos often are:
• Built minimally and have poor wall and floor sound – proofing properties.
• The Building Code may be sub-optimal in this respect (we’re all different as to noise effects) and
• Improvements in the Code may be lobbied against by developers who think they may lose more profit, the better the quality of construction is.

Anything interfering with residents’ quiet enjoyment of their Units should be eliminated. It is the duty of Management to make certain undue noise caused by residents, their guests and/or pets, is stopped.

Very often, residents’ “noise” is not their fault or intention and stems from poor or no soundproofing in the building. Sometimes people are just oblivious to their impact on others. It often happens that normal walking or dropping a small object results in quite a bit of noise in the Unit below–yet this is “normal behaviour” for us all. Be aware that your neighbours, above or beside, may not even know (or don’t care) they are making “noise”; same can be true for you.

In the past 2 weeks, alone, we’ve been asked to HELP 2 sleep – deprived women, who are being seriously affected. They were desperate and we were able to offer some relief in terms of options- hence this Article.  See also

If a neighbour’s noise is affecting your ability to enjoy your Unit, look for ways to create evidence in support of your noise complaint. Start by documenting in writing the time, duration and nature of the noises you hear and take recordings of the noise, if you can. You may also want to hire an acoustical engineer to measure the level of the noise and compare it to “normal” levels, verify the source and/or propose modifications in behavior or building construction.

How about approaching them and sharing your concerns, if you are being affected, they may have no idea. Whatever you do, do not pick a fight with these neighbours. Consider that a neighbour below you, may hear your own activities, also.

While a late-night party or a barking dog are obvious problems, many persistent noise issues are structural in nature. Your strata corporation is responsible for the repair and maintenance of only Common Property and if the Common property is a contributing factor in the transmission of noise between strata lots, the Strata Corporation may have a duty to repair or minimize the transmission of sound, such as the case of an elevator/ noisy hallway doors, etc.

Dogs that bark or run around on hard surfaces above you, at all times may need to be trained, muzzled or relocated. It is perfectly legitimate for a dog to be removed from a Unit, after due written warnings have been issued. The clicking of a dog’s nails across a hardwood floor can be extremely irritating, as well. Recording a pooch’s barks from a corridor or from your suite provides good documentation. In fact, recording any sustained noise may be helpful, especially if date- stamped. Little dogs may be noisier (even if they look cute.)

If extending an “olive branch” doesn’t work, you may have legal remedies….

At the other end of the scale, if you receive noise complaints, ask for specific details about the type of noise and the timing of the incident. Your strata corporation has an obligation to provide you with specific details about the alleged offence. If you want to challenge a noise complaint, remember you will need to show the strata council, and potentially the courts, that you were not engaging in any unusually noisy activities given the time of that complaint. If the issue persists, consider working with your neighbour and strata corporation to come to an agreeable solution.
We may be able to offer solutions – “the” Condo Expert.

Glenn Duxbury

About Glenn Duxbury

Duxbury & Associates Building Inspection and Consulting Ltd. has received the 2004 Douglas College Entrepreneur of the Year Award in the ‘Consulting’ category for persistence and pursuit of excellent service delivery to clients by providing very thorough and professional Inspection Reports and dedication to those involved in buying / selling / building / renovating and maintaining uncompromised customer focus.