Kitsilano Condo

Condo living – I’m worried about the noise! A few tips for Kitsilano homebuyers

There is no doubt that when people think about living in a condo noise is always a concern.  Will I hear my neighbours?  Will the traffic just outside my building be noticeable? Noise is an understandable concern when you have so many people living in such a small space in any urban setting. So what can we do?  A few tips that I suggest to homebuyers I work with:

1. Meet some people in the building

Have your Realtor arrange an appointment in the evening when most people will be home so you can meet a few people that live there.  I’ve found most people don’t mind answering a couple of questions as long as you’re not disturbing them at a weird time of the day. Ask about the neighbours if you are able to meet the owners, or if you feel brave enough knock on the neighbours’ door.  Remember to be polite and friendly and not to be an interrogator. Asking them whether they like living there and what they think of the building.

2. Hang around

Spend some time around the building and watch the ebb and flow of traffic of cars, buses, and people going in and out of the building.  Seeing lots of young adults going in and out of the building means there are probably a lot of rental units. Lots of rental units means lots of tenants and high turnover of people in the building. It is also a good idea to visit at night so you can see what the neighbourhood is like when you will most often be home.   

3. Construction quality

Find out what kind of material the building is built out of. Wood frame buildings will always allow more noise between floors and walls.  Newer buildings tend to have better sound proofing material s in them from construction whereas old ones the may have nothing at all to prevent noise transfer.  Your inspector will not be able to tear apart your flooring or walls to tell you what kind of sound dampening material there. He can however look at the age and quality of construction and give you an opinion based on that.  You pay them well ...ask lots of questions!!

4. Read the rules, by-laws, and minutes before you write an offer

Most people think you can only read the strata rules, by-laws, or meeting minutes once you have an accepted offer on the property. Not usually the case. Many Realtors don’t mind providing a PDF of these documents beforehand to any potential buyer if they express serious interest. Read through them and look for complaints about noise and see how they are addressed.  Most strata bylaws use a fine system for infractions so noise offenders are often discouraged by the money it may cost them.

5. Talk to someone on council

Any concern you may have can be directed towards a strata council member. Usually the strata president is your best bet for answers.  Get your Realtor to get their phone number and have a good chat with them about your concern. They will give you a good idea if noise is a common complaint and how they address the complaints they do receive. 

Dean Wegman - Sutton West Coast Realtor