HELP! New condo, thin walls, big mortgage
December 13, 2010 9:26 PM   Subscribe

I am looking for someone to test noise levels from a neighbour in a new condo in Vancouver, Canada. I need a professional opinion and I don't know where to start.

I am looking for someone to test noise levels from a neighbour in a new condo in Vancouver, Canada. I need a professional opinion and I don't know where to start.

I have been living in my new condo for a year now (I bought it brand new). Since my neighbours moved in next door, I have been hearing a lot of noise from their apartment.

My place is long and narrow, (like a linear space) and their kitchen backs onto my kitchen. I can hear the shutting of kitchen cupboard doors and drawers and the sliding of their closet door shut. At night, in bed, I can hear my neighbour urinating as if he's in the same apartment. All of the noise is driving me nuts and since there are several people living in their apartment, they are always using the kitchen and bathroom. I have resorted to sleeping with a fan on.

This is a brand new concrete building, but it's not concrete between the walls. There are two pieces of drywall on each side, with insulation in between. There is a fairly large sized hole under the sink where the pipe goes into the wall - could a lot of the noise be coming through there? Or around the outlets even?

Anyway, I have told my warranty provider for the second time about the noise. The first time, they told me that they could not hear anything (because no one next door was home!) I am awaiting their response to my latest "claim" but I suspect it will get turned down.

Does anyone have any advice for dealing with this, and also, who to contact to get the noise levels tested? I am not even sure what to look for. I feel that I need "evidence."

This is driving me up the wall. It's my first place and it's making me crazy... not to mention it's depressing. thanks for your advice.
posted by ninefour to Home & Garden (8 answers total)
Perhaps? The keywords you want are probably "environmental noise". You'll probably want an attorney as well.
posted by dhartung at 9:44 PM on December 13, 2010

Definitely an attorney, but there are excellent insulations you can get to deal with this. It may wind up being a good-neighbors fence situation.

Can your cellphone record audio? You could record some examples.
posted by rhizome at 11:24 PM on December 13, 2010

Yeah and if you're really going nuts you can replace your drywall with quietrock.
posted by Glendale at 3:56 AM on December 14, 2010

I suspect the problem is that they didn't create a double wall/ double row of studs and that your drywall and their drywall are attached to the same studs. If this is the case then insulating the voids in the wall won't help. The only real way to solve the problem is to rip down the drywall and do it right.

Lawyer Up.
posted by PorcineWithMe at 7:02 AM on December 14, 2010

I find it hard to believe that the Vancouver fire code would allow a single wall of studs and two sheets of drywall between living units but if the wall are so thin you can hear urination on the other side, just selling may be the simplest option.
posted by bonobothegreat at 8:27 AM on December 14, 2010

Another perhaps. I know they do environmental noise monitoring where I am, but can't find a specific reference to it on their Vancouver page.

I also suspect they focus on larger projects, but even if that's the case, they might be able to point you in the right direction if you give them a call.
posted by Ahab at 10:14 AM on December 14, 2010

Perhaps you could purchase a decibel meter and a high quality microphone and leave them on during the day. Here's what I'm envisioning. You capture both the sound of the neighbour urinating through your walls along with a simulated sound of urination in your own apartment. Determine the difference in decibel levels. This will be the "noise reduction index" for your walls. Perhaps you can find something in the building code that specifies a minimum level of noise reduction between units in a condo building and use your gathered evidence to build a case for remediation.
posted by talkingmuffin at 1:49 PM on December 14, 2010

I'm going to agree with bonobo on this. Looking at fire codes may be a better way of dealing with this than a complaint about sound levels. If that wall is really a single wall with holes in it (plumbing and electrical) it's probably not legal as a separation between two living units. If that's the case, presenting it as a life-safety issue rather than a nuisance issue will probably get a more effective response.
posted by Morydd at 11:23 AM on December 15, 2010

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