More on Apartment Noise

alllenApril 24, 2006

I currently live in a large c. 1960's rental building. It is supposedly well-constructed with concrete of sorts between apt.'s (and rooms) and is fireproofed.

Still, the walls and floors transmit sound copiously and may even to be amplifying it. I can hear when the pelple next door to one side run their sink, to the other side when they take a shower, coughing and laughing from above, and (needless to say) TV's, radios and ringing phones from seemingly every direction. From outdoors is bad too when lawns are being mowed or kids of all ages are playing downstairs.

I will soon be moving but it will unfortunately need to be another apartment or loft (NY City). Can anyone suggest (non-technically) what might be wrong with the construction of where I live now and what features I should look for next? Thanks for your help.

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Prior to moving in, ect... ask the landlord about the neighbors you will have. Ask if their young or older. Ask if there's kids remember little kids grow up to be "teenagers" and they love music. Kids don't bother me, Teenagers do; younger adults that don't use their head and don'g think about other people really erck the heck out of me. Ask about them. Check out the design and floor plans of the apartments. If flushing and running water ect... bother you, besure to check out where your neighbors bathroom is compared to your bedroom or whatever...

If a landlord isn't getting a tenant because current tenants are loud... maybe they'll look at the situation. See if you can add something to the policy (IE its not a law in California to add a Military Clause, it's up to the new tenant to have one of those added to the lease). So see if the LL will allow a "noise" addendum to the lease; whats the worse that they could say; NO. What's the worse that you could say; I'm not going to rent here.

I wish I had did some of what I have just suggested prior to taking my lease I'm on now.

Good luck.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2006 at 12:42AM
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hello allen-I also live in NYC and moved out of a large 1960's building. I moved into a smaller solid building, built in 1924. I can tell the difference in construction. My old apartment was shoddily built (minus the new noisy tenants)it seems with sheetrock, paper and twigs LOL. I realy believe the older buidling are sturdier. I can be in the kitchen and have trouble hearing someone speaking in the living room which is the next room) With all the new hurried construction going on now in all the boros of NYC, all the new apartment buldings cannot be solid. I am quite happy where I am (quiet neighborhood, decent tenants, 10 foot ceilings spacious)there is one noisy A** downstairs, but then he is downstairs and is sometimes away for days at a time. There is a website for nyc called PROPERTYSHARK that gives the specs on most building in NYC..check it out

    Bookmark   April 25, 2006 at 9:47AM
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You'd really have to cut into a wall to know what to look for in the construction of the building. Everyone has their theories whether new buildings are better because they are new construction or older buildings because they are sturdier... or new buildings are worse because they are a quick construction where corners are cut or old buildings because they are run down

Each of those statements has truth to it, but you also new buildings have strict codes that they must adhere to. Inspectors are required to visit construction sites at intervals and sign off stating that the building has met all of the codes (they can also require the general contractors to undo their work just to prove that it is up to code)

Anything can really cause sound to travel in a building whether it be hard surfaces like wood, steel, or concrete. It depends on if there is a path for the sound to travel through space or each of those building materials (depending on how they are or are not touching each other).

There have to be fire rated walls between rowhouses and apartments. These are usually thicker walls. They also have to meet insulation requirements (governed by local codes) this helps eliminate noises now too.

There are soundproofing barriers incorporated into insulation that are 'newer' to the industry, but for these it depends on if the owner wants it or the architect wants to specify to use it.

Now older buildings are typically 'granfathered' into the new codes, meaning that they do not have to comply with them until there is a major renovation done. This doesnt mean to shy away from them, you just really have to do your homework.

Enough mumbo-jumbo...

When looking for a new place I would start by looking for a place on a first floor or top floor as well as one that has as many outside walls as possible, this helps reduce the noisy neighbors you might have to deal with. (When I moved into my townhouse I got a map and a list of the available townhouses to rent. I checked them all out before I chose the one i did.)

I would also look for a brick or concrete cladded building. I would shy away from any building that has wood or vynl siding. You will hear the wind much easier if it is sided. Also, you'll hear the thermal movement. So if the sun heats up the vynl and it expands or the cold shrinks it, you might hear the pieces moving against each other.

When you visit the place, go multiple times varying throughout the day if you can. You never know which neighbors are going to be home when.

Walk around the complex. Talk to the neighbors, get their opinions. They would know better than management.

Go on the web and google apartment ratings. There are plenty of sites where tenants can post their comments about their experiences there. (Keep in mind someone will tell 1-2 people if they have a good experience and 20-25 people if they have a bad experience so dont be surprised if you find quite a few negative comments posted, just use it as a guide)

Tap on the walls, if they sound hollow you might have noise issues, if they sound solid, its a good bet that will help eliminate sounds.

Capeting will be key!

When you move in, put lots of rugs down even on top of carpeting. Make sure you put heavy drapes up. Fill your rooms with furniture, dont keep very empty rooms. Add plants! The point is the more soft surfaces that you have, the harder it is for sounds to continue to travel.

Ok, sorry for the ramble, hope it helps. Good luck with the apartment hunt!

    Bookmark   May 3, 2006 at 8:12PM
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I moved to an apartment complex in January after having lived in two manufactured homes in a period of about ten years. The unit I have is a ground floor end unit and I have only two neighbors attached; one above me and one behind my unit. I notice a similar situation that you do. It seems that when my neighbor upstairs is either in his kitchen or bathroom, I can hear items being placed on the sink, counters, etc. My guess is that some of it passed into the walls through the plumbing as the floors are made of concrete in addition to cinder blocks.

The building I am in is well constructed and even the exterior walls are about nine inches thick. I have actually been in (not lived in) newer buildings that are supposed to be sound proofed, but have heard things in them as well. I don't know if there is any way of really blocking out all of the noise of other units as it would be prohibitively expensive the way I see it. But then I am not a construction engineer either.

Maybe if you can afford a super high rent, you might get a quieter apartment, but I just dont know. I have looked at a couple of apartment review websites and even some of the more expensive apartment complexes in this area there are reports of noise. I am beginning to think that it is just a fact of apartment living. You have to be willing to put up with a certain amount of noise. You will never get the quiet of a detached house.

I have met my neighbor upstairs, and he is a nice guy. He is not making any exceptional noise up there, just living in his apartment. Having lived in a detached home, this has taken some getting use to, and frankly, since I do like quiet, I am not sure I will ever completely get use to it. I have resigned myself to accepting it as part of apartment living and just deal with it. If I were getting the sound of loud stereos, TVs, parties, etc., that would be a different story altogether.

On the plus side, I happen to really like my apartment. I love the abundant green space, walking, hiking and biking trails, close access to work and shopping, not having to worry about mowing lawns or shoveling snow, or fixing something when it breaks. Maintenance here is very good. I may move to one of the more upscale units for professionals when one opens up in the future. But until one opens up, I am happy where I am and will deal with the occasional upstairs sounds. No living place is perfect.

Good luck on your apartment search (research)


    Bookmark   May 6, 2006 at 11:23AM
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