My Condo, My Sanctuary: Quieting Excess Noise in Your Condo

If pop culture has taught us anything about multi-person living over the years, it’s that A) You can get a HUGE downtown unit in the heart of New York City on a barista’s wage or struggling actor’s income, no problem, and B) Getting yelled at for making too much noise is an integral part of the condo/apartment living experience. 

Have you even truly experienced condo living until you’ve heard that thump on the wall, that stomp on the floor, or that bang of the broomstick against the ceiling as a neighbour yells at you to “KEEP IT DOWN, FOR CRYING OUT LOUD!”?

All jokes aside, though, things should never really deteriorate to the passive-aggressive (or just aggressive-aggressive) practice of beating up the walls to get your neighbour to keep quiet. Communication is always the first and best line of defence in these instances – and we mean the productive, face-to-face kind of communication, not the yelling-angrily-at-the-ceiling kind. 

Read on for our best advice on how to tackle noise issues in your building – and for condo noise reduction advice in case you happen to be the culprit. 

Three Key Steps to Quieter Living

1. Face the (Extremely Loud) Music Head-On

Our first and most important piece of advice? Don’t start out by escalating the problem to your board or management company right off the bat. We know, that might seem like the easiest, most anonymous way to address the problem, but all that this move typically does is make things worse. 

The thing about noise in condos is that unless the cacophonous culprit is violating some sort of municipal code, the Alberta Condo Act, or a specific condo bylaw (which is often just a paraphrasing of that same municipal legislation), neither your board nor your management company will have much authority to do anything to curb the racket. Further, while we imagine most board members or managers would have the tact to not knock on the offending noise-maker’s door and say “THEY GUY FROM 2B SAYS YOU’RE BEING TOO LOUD,” it also probably doesn’t take a super-sleuth to figure out where the complaint came from, causing a tense and uncomfortable situation for everyone involved. 

And so, we circle back to our first piece of advice: just try talking to your neighbour first. They might not even know they’re bothering you. They might be practicing the guitar solo from Stairway to Heaven at 3 in the morning thinking, “Man, my condo’s great – it’s so soundproof I can practice this sweet guitar solo at 3am! Surely if I was disturbing my neighbours they’d politely let me know – but no one’s ever said anything to me in all the time I’ve been here, so it must be good!” 

Have that conversation. Be polite. Try to work things out. Nobody wants to be on bad terms with their community, after all – give your neighbours a chance and we bet they’ll surprise you. 

2. Consider the Build of Your Building

If you’ve talked to your neighbour and they’ve agreed to quiet down but you still can’t believe the unholy amount of noise that’s coming through the walls, take a step back to consider what kind of building you’re living in. 

If you’re in a concrete building and you’re still hearing noise from parties, TV shows, and the like, then that neighbour is truly generating a serious amount of volume. However, if you’re building is timber-built, you’re often treated to many of the sounds of your neighbours simply going about their day-to-day business, including muffled conversations, footfalls, and yes, even toilet flushes. 

Depending on the type of build your condo unit employs, your neighbours could be quiet as mice and you’d still hear them skittering around – in which case, our only advice would be to learn to live with a bit of background noise or to consider finding a new concrete-build condo to call home. 

3. Are YOU the Noisy Resident?

So far, we’ve circled around the best ways to address things if you happen to be the party offended by all that noise, noise, noise, noise. What if you’re the culprit, though? What if you’re just trying to go about your normal life, and you keep having people telling you you’re just being too danged loud? Well, there are a few things you can do to maybe help soundproof your condo – assuming you are, in fact, being a thoughtful neighbour and not cranking it up to 11 each and every night. First, consider some noise reduction techniques. Put down a throw rug or two to soundproof your condo’s floors, especially in timber-built units. Art on the walls does the same thing, soundproofing your condo’s walls and muffling noise just like egg cartons do in a recording room – only while looking much, much more attractive. 

Finally, our last tip around sound insulation involves your HVAC setup – although this is more a tip for folks in townhomes than condos. If you’re dealing with the constant background drone of a loud unit, consider putting a bit of insulation around exposed, noisy elements such as pipes, drains, and other problem areas. It might not help much, but it will certainly help some. 

Hopefully, these tips and solutions will help to diffuse an otherwise thunderous conflict with your neighbours about noise. Still not quite sure how best to deal with a loud neighbour? Can’t stand the noise and looking to get the heck out of that timber-built unit? Give us a shout Catalyst Condo Management (quietly!) today and we’ll do what we can to help you out.

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