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.