Intrusive noise is the biggest complaint among Austin condo owners. Occasionally, noise disturbance is inherent to the complex’s location in the city. Condos located next to a busy freeway or highly traveled intersection can expect more than moderate levels of noise penetration, especially in older buildings that are not as soundproof as newer construction. But, most of the noise condo owners complain about have to do with the layout or residents of the condo complex itself.
Noise is Sometimes Related to Tenants
Sometimes noise levels are directly related to the number of units in the complex which are rented to tenants. Short term, transient tenants seem to be less likely to respect the peace and quiet of a community. On the other hand, condo owners have a vested interested in making sure the complex is a desirable, quiet place to live. In a building with a tenant heavy population, you’re more likely to experience noise.
Find Out How Close the Elevators, Stairwells and Garbage Chutes Are to Your Unit
It’s important to note that condominium units located next to an elevator or garbage chute can be noisy, so beware if you are extremely sensitive to noise. Stairwells can also be a source of noise intrusion. Small children may frolic in stairwells where sound is amplified by the uncovered walls. Stairwells are also a place where residents might congregate to catch up or have loud phone conversations. If the walls of your unit are thin, you might think twice before buying a condo near a heavily traveled area of the complex.
Pools are Another Source of Noise
Complex swimming pools can be another source of noise. Though they make for a pretty view when empty, if they are used heavily, they might be more of a nuisance than you’d expect.
Consider Type of Flooring Allowed by the HOA
Another reason, much less spoken of, is noise generated when occupants walk on hardwood, laminate or tile flooring. Most condominiums have restrictions about the type of flooring that an owner may install, especially if they have neighbors below. Usually, if hardwood is allowed at all, a special underpad is required to minimize the noise intrusion.
The HOA Can Enforce their Rules – But that Can Take a While
In extreme instances, we’ve seen HOAs require a carpet be placed over the flooring. In one particular instance, an HOA board sued a unit owner who installed a hardwood floor without approval after numerous complaints were filed by neighboring unit owners. After a lengthy and costly arbitration, the HOA prevailed and the owner was forced to install a quieter floor. The bottom line is the surrounding condo owners had to deal with the noise throughout this entire process.
Want to Install Unauthorized Floors without Approval? Think Again!
The HOA is responsible to enforce the CC&Rs and By-laws governing unacceptable noise levels. A unit owner can compel their HOA to enforce the rules if other occupants are uncooperative. However, it seems best to avoid the dis-harmony, frustration and expense of pursuing enforcement by exercising a degree of due diligence.
Noise is a Subjective Metric
The point at which the noise level becomes unacceptable is subjective and personal. If you were raised in lower Manhattan you might tolerate higher noise levels than the person raised in Buda. But, because unacceptable noise levels can make for very unpleasant living conditions, here are a few ideas.
Insider Tip: If You are Sensitive to Noise, Find Out These 5 Things Before You Buy a Condo
If you’re thinking about buying a condo with shared walls, but are sensitive to noise, we advise you find out these 5 things before you buy.
- Find out how many tenant occupied units are located near the targeted unit and in the complex as a whole.
- Find out exactly what the flooring rules allow.
- Ask the HOA about the number, type and origin of noise of complaints received.
- Visit the unit at different times of the day to determine whether external noise levels are acceptable.
- Identify whether other noise sources, such as, elevators, garbage chutes, stairwells are tolerable.
Considering Buying a Condo in Austin?
Buying a condo is a bit more complex than buying single family homes. There are more questions you need to ask and more info you need to find out before you commit to buying a condo. Our advice is to work with an experienced buyer’s agent who knows how to help buyers purchase condos. Eleven Oaks Realty has a combined 60+ years of experience helping buyers purchase condos. We know the questions to ask and the market for condos in Austin. For more info about who we are and how we work, check out our Austin Home Buyers page. Then, fill out our Buyer Survey, email us at info@11OaksRealty.com or call us at (512) 827-8323 to schedule a no obligation consultation.