Residential Noise

Residential noise control information is separated into homeowners, condominiums and cooperatives, and potential legal issues individuals may have.


Having a quiet and peaceful back yard to enjoy after a stressful day at work is very desirable. Some residents have problems with noise from a street that backs up to their property. As streets and roads get widened, traffic increases and when traffic increases, noise increases. Many homeowners invest in landscaping to keep down unwanted street and highway noise. Unfortunately, adding trees and shrubs won't help to abate the noise very much. Using a professional acoustical consultant is necessary to avoid wasting money on products and plants that won't help the situation.

Considering using quieter air conditioning units can also help keep annoying noise down in the backyard.

Condominiums and Cooperatives

Noise is a subjective issue, and can be difficult to resolve. When the sound of noise is your own, it is merely sound, but when it is generated by a neighbor, or from outside, then it becomes annoying noise.

Noise is an especially delicate issue with condos and cooperatives. When cooperative and condominium boards ignore these complaints, residents may have no choice but to go to court. If this happens, the suit may become public, costly, and affect the resident's ability to sell the unit.

Historically, in residential and especially in multi-family dwellings, plumbing noise has been a major distraction, while in single family homes, dishwashers, showers and laundry can be scheduled not to interfere with quiet dinners and sleep, multi-unit residents have no such luxury... they must live with the water use whims of their neighbors.

But times are changing. The growing popularity of high priced multi-unit housing for the aging baby boomer generation is starting to focus a great deal of consumer attention on sound isolation. Knowing how to quiet HVAC, plumbing, and impact noise is a powerful tool in the market. Consumers are demanding a quieter environment.

With baby boomers moving from single family homes into retirement condominiums, builders need all the noise reduction they can get.

Legal Issues

Noise is an especially delicate issue within condominium associations, where complaints can create disputes that pit association members against each other while embroiling the board in bitter, highly personal disagreements. Annoying noise can be subjective, and as a result, noise disputes can be extremely difficult to resolve, sometimes resulting in costly litigation. Another thing that makes noise control so complex is that while noise is measured in dBs, the frequency of the noise can contribute greatly to the noise complaint, and the frequency probably will not be reflected in the dB number.

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