The Sound and the Fury A Look at Noise and Soundproofing

 Noise is a key quality-of-life problem for almost anyone living in a  densely-packed urban environment. It's the bane of many a condo-dweller’s existence, and over the years engineers, architects, and designers have tried  any number of ways to reduce the problem of noise in multifamily buildings—some more successfully than others.  

 When Noise Annoys

 As long as people have ears and the ability to use them and live in close  quarters with others, there will be problems with noise. It’s just human nature.  

 Jeremy Feigen, owner of Accurate Construction in Mundelein has heard all the  complaints. “I'd want to say the biggest issue that we're seeing in the years we've been  doing this, and focusing mostly in Chicago, is construction issues. By the time  [our clients] contact us it's: 'I hate my neighbors. I know when they wake up.  I know when their kids go to bed. I know everything that they do. I hear every  time their cell phone rings. I know when they're walking in to the bathroom in  the middle of the night because there's that one squeak right in front of the  floor',” he says. He even had one client who swore she could hear her downstairs  neighbor's cell phone vibrate through her floor.  

 While a great majority of sound irritations come from the inside (kids running  upstairs, loud music or TV), some residents may find that the noise originates  from outside. Michael Ibarra, owner at Soundproof Chicago in Crestwood says  that many of his clients cite noise caused by busy roadways, trains, flight  paths, bars or nightclubs, factories and sirens. But whether inside or outside,  having to constantly deal with sound issues can a lot of unnecessary stress and  disrupt the home environment.  

 Mandy Kachur, a principal consultant with Soundscape Engineering in Ann Arbor,  Michigan, and the vice president of public relations for the Institute of Noise  Control Engineering/USA says, “Sounds that are transient, that come and go, that start and stop”—like hammering a nail into a wall—“or tonal noises, like whistles, tend to be more annoying than a steady broadband  of white noise”—like the hum of a washer and dryer.  


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  • Yes, it would be nice to be able to see a condo at the time the noises are made, but that is almost impossible. I don't know any real estate agent around here that will show a place at let's say 6 am in the morning or 9 pm when someone may be taking a shower so you could check for plumbing noise. Nor can you keep going back every day to be able to "catch" the right time someone next door or upstairs has their tv on or kids stomping around.