10 Questions to ask before the purchase! (For apartments, substitute “apartments” for “Condos”)!
Many people who were living in single family homes are surprised and shocked to discover they now share a wall with their noisy condo neighbor. Of course when the purchase is complete and one moves in, it’s far too late to do anything about it except to bite the bullet and live with it or investigate what options are available to mitigate the noise after the fact.
We here at the Super Soundproofing Company™ have helped many of these hapless buyers and can help you too, maybe by preventing obvious mistakes before the purchase and even after..
If you’re one of the few buyers studying up on the purchase of a condo, join the ranks of the fortunate that are armed with knowing the questions to ask before the purchase. You’d need to talk with the Seller and/or the Condo Association/Property Manager.
1) What kind of soundproofing was installed when the unit was constructed and when? (This will tell you the codes in effect at the time, and if any).
2) How effective is it? What STC and or IIC are maintained? (STC is airborne sound, people talking) (IIC is impact noise, people walking)
3) What can you tell me about my neighbors to be, left, right, above and below? (You’d want to know if they play the piano, etc).
4) How many noise complaints have you had? (If they don’t answer correctly, you may have a legal Cause of Action later, if needed).
5) Ever received attorney letters about the noise? (See #4 above).
6) What was the prevailing Noise Level Code this condo was built to, and when?
7) Are there any tenants with state supported rent? (Sometimes the parties never stop!)
8) Can I bring my sleeping bag and spend a night and day there? (This doesn’t always work as it has happened the seller gave a paid vacation to noisy neighbors to go away so the condo could be sold!)
9) Whats the policy for installing wood floors, etc?
10) Ask “Anything I should know before I buy”?
You’d need to know the kinds of soundproofing employed while the building was under construction in the case of
A) Concrete walls, floors or
B) Double framed walls with sound proofing insulation.
The level of sound control of the condo would have been established at the time of construction, so it’s important to know what it is. That level will determine if it’s sufficient or not for your living enjoyment. If not, you’d be faced with expensive retrofit of sound panels or even have to demo out walls and ceiling to do a major remodel.
A quick determination for the sound levels in the condo can be done by using your ears as a tuning meter. The human ear is quite sensitive to not only the direction of the incoming sound, but also the level.
For instance, listening carefully at the wall, (a few inches away), then the window will give a relative reading of the traffic noise entering the room. Your cell phone playing music will allow you to get a reading of the sound transfer through a common wall. Many times these walls are all constructed the same in a condo building; it may very well be they will be the same for adjoining rooms of the next door neighbor. So, if you hear noise well through your walls, so will you hear it well through his walls, too. (And he’ll here you too!)
Even if you find there was “Soundproofing” in place from the time of construction it may have been insufficient considering the aging of the building and the inevitable traffic noise increase of the neighborhood in general.
Wall, floor, ceiling and window soundproofing is not cheap, though some ill-informed may refer to outmoded techniques from the 1970’s.such as extra layers of drywall, cork, fiberglass batting, etc. as sufficient. Modern day costs to accomplish proper soundproofing may well run into the thousands and misguided efforts to save money may lead to unacceptable results.
* Walls: Using a layer of MLV (Mass Loaded Vinyl) under another layer of Gypsum board will double the sound blocking of an existing wall.
* Floors: As above, Using a layer of MLV (Mass Loaded Vinyl) under carpet and “Rebond” carpet pad will double the reduction of airborne sound. Using MLV with closed cell foam bonded to it will reduce both airborne sound (STC) and impact sound (IIC). This works well for laminate floors too.
* Ceilings: If the floor above is not accessible, then the option is to demo out the ceiling and use “Sound Clips” to float a new ceiling of Gypsum board on “Hat” channel.
* Windows: They are the most likely to be the cause of outside noise entering the condo. A window “plug” is easiest to use to block incoming noise but will block light until removed. A “Secondary” window provides the same sound blocking as well as light and is easily removed for cleaning, air, etc..
Of course such costs vary drastically from state to state, city to city, but should be figured into the costs associated with buying a condo needing soundproofing.
Here are some approximate materials costs:
* Walls/ Floors: Basic MLV is about $1.50 per sq ft, the composite MLV and foam about $3.60 per sq ft. Other products may be needed.
* Ceilings: Sound Clip run about $5.40 each and you’ll need one for every sq ft of area. “Hat” channel runs $4 for each 5’ length. Plus locally obtained drywall.
* Windows: The 2” foam plug costs $8 per sq ft and the locally obtained clear plastic sheet for the Secondary window about the same plus the magnetic tape and angle for mounting is $3.50 per lineal foot (measured around the perimeter of the window frame).
See the shopping cart For more detailed costs.
Many times such deficient housing is purchased by savvy investors who can get a good deal because of these sound control issues and then remedy them for a nice profit. But it takes careful consideration and a knowledgeable buyer to avoid getting burned.
Take a walking tour of soundproofing an apartment.