10 Tips for Dealing With a Noisy Condo
After a stressful and expensive home purchase, the last thing you want as a new condo owner is a noise problem.
Some amount of noise should be expected when you live in a condo. You share walls with your neighbors and you have community outdoor spaces that need maintenance.
Noise may seem like a minor inconvenience at first, but it can quickly become a big headache — whether it’s a next door neighbor’s speakers or noise from a nearby highway.
Fortunately, you have options for addressing noise problems before they become untenable. The best outcome would be to eliminate or reduce the noise at its source, but that’s not always possible. Other solutions may require you to implement small or large home upgrades, such as rearranging furniture or installing soundproofing attachments to doors and windows.
Understanding your rights as a condo owner and your community’s rules regarding noise can help you determine the best solution. Here are 10 tips for dealing with noise in your condo.
1. Identify the Source of the Noise
The condo seller should have disclosed disruptive noise during the sale, but if they didn't, identifying where the noise is coming from is the first step to addressing it. Some noise problems are temporary while others are more permanent. Some temporary sources of noise might include:
- Remodeling or repair projects in neighboring units
- Short-term landscaping projects, such as tree trimming or removal
- Neighbors hosting an occasional party or gathering
Temporary sources of noise are inconvenient, but it’s helpful to know there’s an end in sight.
If you notice persistent noise at certain times of day or night, that may be cause for concern. Some noise sources, such as airports or highways, are obvious before you move in. Others only become an issue the longer you live in your home. Some examples of persistent noise are:
- Footsteps, music, talking, and other day-to-day noises in neighboring units
- Street noise from vehicles or pedestrians
- Regular landscaping, such as lawn mowers and leaf blowers
- Nearby police stations, fire stations, or hospitals
Some of these noise sources are easier to address than others. Identifying the problem is the first step toward finding a realistic solution.
2. Address Noise With Your Neighbors
Talking about noise with your neighbors can help you get closer to a calm, quiet condo. If your neighbors are the source of the noise, addressing the problem politely and directly is your best course of action.
A certain amount of noise from your neighbors is to be expected depending on the type of condo you live in. If you have shared walls and units directly above or below you, you can expect to hear some pets, foot traffic, and vacuuming from time to time.
If your neighbors are playing loud music late into the night, consistently raising their voices, or making noise in other ways, it’s time to have a conversation. If your next-door neighbor likes to mow the lawn before 8 a.m. on Saturday mornings, you would be well within your rights to politely ask them to shift their mowing schedule to later in the day.
Even if you ask nicely, your neighbors might not comply. Follow up if the problem persists, and consider involving your community management team if the situation doesn’t improve.
3. Know Your Homeowners Association or Condo Association Rules
Most condos have an association or board that manages the community and its rules. You likely reviewed these rules and policies during the sale of your home, and a noise problem is an opportunity to revisit them.
Your homeowners association or condo association likely has some guidance around noise in its bylaws. Quiet hour policies are common in condo associations with dwellings that share walls, but the rules usually don’t apply to noises outside of the community, so it’s important to confirm the source of the noise first.
Revisiting and understanding your rights as an owner and resident in your condo community is helpful when dealing with a noisy neighbor.
4. Notify Your Building or Property Management
Once you have a grasp of the homeowners association's noise policies, find a way to formally or informally notify your association about the noise. Formal complaints yield documented consequences if a resident is found in violation of a noise policy.
It’s also important to notify management about disruptive noises that don’t come from neighbors. Your condo board is a body that can advocate for your community. If you and your neighbors experience continuous noise disruptions, the board may have measures to address it.
For example, if your community management team employs a noisy landscaping company to mow grassy areas early in the morning and it's disrupting your sleep, the condo association will be able to adjust the schedule if they choose.
5. Upgrade Your Carpets and Curtains
Making small changes throughout your condo can help reduce noise if you can’t eliminate the noise at the source.
Many condos and apartment buildings install carpeting to help reduce the level of sound between units. If that isn't enough, thick, high-pile rugs are another way you can muffle sound. Rugs absorb sound coming from outside and below you, making your condo less cavernous and reducing noise you create, too.
Outdoor noise is a great reason to install curtains if your condo doesn’t have some. Unlike blinds, thick curtains reduce the level of noise coming through the windows. Floor-to-ceiling curtains are the best for sound reduction. You can even add more panels to absorb more outside noise.
Structural changes, such as installing carpet or adding insulation, could also reduce the level of noise in your apartment. Those changes will come with higher costs, though, and might require approval from your condo board.
6. Buy Noise-Reducing Technology
Many popular tech accessories can help make noise less irritating. Buying a new piece of technology is sometimes enough to help you endure temporary noise, such as a remodeling project next door.
Noise-canceling technology has become more affordable in recent years, especially as remote workers managed day-to-day noise at home for the first time. If you work from home and need to focus, your company might have a home office stipend or other fund to cover the cost.
One of the most popular pieces of tech is noise-canceling headphones, which use contrasting soundwaves to minimize ambient sound at a certain frequency. A sound machine can also be a helpful investment if noise disrupts your sleep.
Sound machines come in all sizes and have a wide range of price points, making them an affordable option for noise reduction. Many have multiple settings, including white noise and natural sounds. Even on low volume, sound machines can help drown out noise enough to sleep.
7. Be Mindful of Your Own Noise
Your neighbors are more likely to accommodate your noise requests if you are a considerate, rule-abiding tenant. Adhere to any noise policies, and think about how the noise in your apartment might carry.
Lead by example. Small acts, such as taking off your shoes inside, quietly shutting doors, and keeping your music and TV sound low, encourages other residents to follow suit. Not only will it help your case as you move through the complaint process, but it’ll make you a better neighbor and community member.
8. Rearrange Your Furniture
Your furniture arrangement doesn’t have to be permanent. There may be better ways to set up your space to lessen the impact of noise. This is especially helpful if condos in your community have similar floor plans. Knowledge of the floor plan and common foot traffic areas can help you configure your furniture in a way that makes noise less noticeable.
To dampen condo noise with furniture, first identify your shared walls. Place your largest, most dense pieces of furniture against those walls. A tall bookshelf full of books will muffle sound coming from your neighbors on the other side of the wall. Upholstered furniture also works well, so consider moving your sofa to the noisy shared wall in your living room.
If you don’t have large sofas or bookshelves available, try purchasing acoustic panels. Acoustic panels are usually covered in fabric and attach to interior walls to absorb sound. They are a space-friendly way to reduce the level of noise in your condo.
9. Seal Your Doors and Windows
Doors and windows bring a lot of noise into homes, especially if they are improperly sealed. These are more expensive fixes, but they can make a big difference in the long run.
Many doors have gaps between the frame and the floor, which allow sound inside. You can purchase attachments, such as door gaskets or acoustic panels, to reduce the sound coming through. You may even want to swap your door entirely if it’s not properly fitted to the frame.
Determine if your windows are single or double pane. Single-pane windows let a lot of sound into your condo. It's possible to soundproof windows, but it’s also costly.
Window pane inserts are one popular option for homeowners who want to dampen outside sound. You add them to your window frames alongside the existing windows to reduce sound from the outside. Inserts cost upward of $300 apiece. That's no small investment, but if traffic noise or a fire station keep you up at night, inserts might be a good use of your home maintenance budget.
Double-pane windows are windows with two pieces of glass that have a small gap for air in between them. This air is what distributes sound vibrations and quiets outdoor noise. Replacing single-pane windows with double-pane windows is expensive and time consuming, but it will reduce outside noise in your home.
You should also make sure your windows close and seal tightly. Windows that don’t close properly let in sound and make your home less energy efficient. Acoustic caulk is the best option for residents who are unable to invest in inserts or window replacements. The caulk seals gaps between the window frame and the wall to reduce the noise level.
10. Explore Your Moving Options
When you have exhausted your options and there’s no relief in sight, it might be time to move. Condo living isn’t for everyone, and you should consider your options before you decide to move as far away as you can from the noise.
Leaving your condo could mean renting it or selling it, and the source of the noise may impact your decision. If it’s a persistent but temporary noise problem, such as a construction project, you may want the option to return.
Listing the property as a rental gives you more flexibility and control over the lease terms, and it will provide you with another source of income to cover the condo’s expenses. If you rent it and later decide you want to sell, a rent-to-own tenant can help take the condo off your hands.
A loud and persistent noise might drive you away for good. Think about whether you want to move to a quieter unit in your community or to a quieter area in general. Selling your condo can take a long time, but selling to a company that will buy it for cash will enable you to move out much faster.