Condo living can be great but is noise affecting your mental health?
There are numerous advantages about living in a condo but one issue that can divide people’s opinions is that of noise
The problem is that communal living can be noisy and with sound travelling from one unit to another as well as the general traffic on walkways and communal areas , you are never going to experience the silence of say living in a log cabin out in the woods!
Living in a cabin out in the woods brings different challenges; the roar of wildanimals, the sound of the wind whipping around your cabin, the call of thewild….Infact whereveryou live, therewill alwaysbesome disadvantages butwith condo living, noise is probably thenumber one problem
So why can condo living be noisy?
The issue often lies with the way the buildings are constructed. In an olderstyle condobuilding,noise is often caused by a lack of building insulation andalthough some blocksare soundproofed,many are not.
Without sound proofing and insulation, noise travels fast between units and the noise of your neighbours carrying out their daily activities can be amplified. Radio noise, conversation and the sound of doors closing and foo tsteps on floors can leave you feeling angry and unravelled by noise
This is not an issue with everyone. Many people like to hear their neighbours and are tolerant of some noise but if you are sensitive, your best option is to check out the acoustics bef ore you move in.
You can request an acoustic test to be carried out by the vendor but an easier option is just to visit the block at different times of the day to check out the noise levels and to request that somebody walks in the unit above the one you are viewing. Specifically with wood constructed building, no matter what you do to try and eliminate noise there will some noises that remain. People often spend thousands of dollars with soundproofing only to realize that they still hear doors opening, va cuums, televisions etc
Lack of sound proofing and insulation is not the only reason for noise.
In general there are four reasons for noise in condos.
- Airborne sounds such as music, television, conversation.
- Impact sounds such as footsteps, children oranimals running about ormoving furniture.
- Solid borne sounds such as the noise of the elevator or patio furniture being moved.
- Noisy plumbing such as the water pipes telling you when your neighbours have been having a shower !
Noisy nei ghbours can be a problem too. If your neighbours are party animals you may be disturbed on a regular basis by the noise of their socialising
They may have arguments, slam doors or have their TV and music turned up too loud. They may speak on the phone fr om the balcony at all times of night. They may have children or animals that are loud and disturb your peace
In some cases noisy neighbours are doing nothing wrong. It is just that their sounds can be amplified by hard wood flooring and a lack of insulat ion.
So what can you do about noise?
We all have a right to peace and quiet and with noise pollution causing ment al distress for so many people this is a growing problem.
The condominium bylaws do not much light on the problem , most bylaws will say that you cannot impede on the enjoyment of other but what does that mean, each person will interpret this differently . According to the City of Edmonton noise bylaws , any noise that disturbs residents is an infract ion but as it is not defined, this is left op en vague and subjective. The only noise that i s defined is construction noise , which doesn’t help if you are struggling with the everyday sounds of your building
So what can you do if your mental health is suffering because of noise?
Your first step should be to inform the management office of the problem. The condo manager should be going to the Board of Directors identifying the issue and options for the board, ultimately the next is the decision of the condo board
You should also keep a log of the noise including the time, duration and where it originates from.
If this does not get a response within a few days try writing a n email to the condo board and include your sound log. In the meantime see how your neighbours are affected and get them on board too
If the noise can be improved by building repairs or fitting insulation such as ceiling tiles or floor insulation, you may need to get legal representation in order to enforce the board to rectify the situation.
As a condo board you should have rules in place for when people make renovations , stipulating what type of flooring and underlay are accepted . A renovation request form is a great way to manage noise concerns as you will want to stipulate approved products for noise levels on items like air conditioner units and flooring underlay.
If your mental health is being affected by neig hbour noise, tread carefully because you don’t want to start a war!
As with the above, keep a sound log and contact the condo manager. It may be that your neighbours are acting thoughtlessly and making a lot o f unwarranted noise but in s o me cases they may not even know they are causing a problem. Often once they are aware of the issues they will tone down the noise
Living in a condo will always be noisier than living in a detached home, miles away from anyone but for many residents this is an acceptable part of condo living. The problem is that our response and reaction to noise is very subjective