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One of the increasingly frequent complaints by apartment, town home and condo dwellers is noise from the unit above. Only if the downstairs occupant is sufficiently disturbed by excessive noise intrusion, can that occupant seek help under local noise ordinances or the right to peace and quiet.
All newly constructed modern day multifamily dwelling units are required, by building code, to be built to provide a minimum measure of acoustical privacy or isolation.
Lack of caulking, blocking or other appropriate care to prevent flanking sound transmission can reduce the FSTC significantly. Many old industrial buildings are being converted to Loft Type Condominiums where the old concrete floors are left exposed both as a finished ceiling below. It is also wise to check the town home or condo owner’s association regulations to see what if any rules exist with respect to noise control. Conduct your own tour with a radio that can be used to check the sound transmission through walls and floors.
Your investment in a new dwelling may be one of the most expensive ones you’ll make, be sure you will be comfortable. A common complaint expressed by many apartment, town home or condominium dwellers is that they can hear their neighbors next door.
If the dwelling is a new one, the first order of business would be to consult with the builder.
The building code also states that while a 50 STC wall by design is required the same wall will pass inspection with a measured field test that results in an FSTC of 45.The only sure way to know what measure of acoustical performance the party wall will offer in terms of sound isolation is to conduct a test in accordance with an ASTM standard test protocol.
If you are unfortunate enough to be confronted with noise from your neighbors in a newly constructed dwelling, the first order of business is to contact the builder and your local building inspection department. Before you confront the builder you can conduct your own investigation just by looking and listening. One of the most frequent sources of sound leakage through a party wall is through the base. If the transmission of noise seems to be coming through the party walls and the problem does not appear to be a lack of adequate caulking, it is wise to check with the builder to ascertain if the wall construction will provide an adequate STC rating. Adding another layer of gypsum board to an existing wall, for example, is likely to only produce an improvement of 1 STC point which is a very cost ineffective and undetectable measure. We have quite comprehensive experience in the design and manufacture of pure rubber and rubber-to-metal bonded antivibration parts for rail, marine, building, and off-highway. We use data-based surveillance software, conduct tests, and provide full technical support. The noise intrusion can be characterized as either impact noise or airborne noise and too frequently, both.

In some cases the sound may also be structure borne sound transmission where the sound transmits through the structure.
Since the impact noise is being generated from above, the upstairs occupant may not be under any obligation to install materials that would reduce the annoyance.
Furthermore, far too few local building inspection departments insist that field test be conducted to validate that the appropriate sound isolation measures have been actually met, before a certificate of occupancy is issued, certifying the dwelling is in compliance with the building code. For instance a new dwelling may be constructed to include carpeting, which will provide a high degree of impact isolation. Under-layments and concrete or gypcrete type toppings can do a great deal to reduce the impact and airborne noise.
If a unit is carpeted and the owner elects to change to floor finish to a ceramic tile or hardwood finish, adequate measures should be taken to maintain the same impact isolation as the original carpeting. Multi-family dwellings are required to meet isolation standards in accordance with the Building Code. The latter should be put on notice in that the building inspection department is required to provide a Certificate of Occupancy, certifying the building has been built according to code.
Drywall installers have nasty habit of jacking the drywall up tight to the ceiling where the joint between the wall and ceiling will be visible.
If not, it maybe necessary to bite the bullet, and if possible remove the gypsum board on one side of the wall and start over again to insure the wall is insulated and to install staggered studs or install resilient channels to isolate the wall from one side to the other.
In addition however, check for plumbing and airborne noises in both the bathroom and the kitchen. To get a better experience of PriceSpy and other websites, we recommend that you download a newer version of Internet Explorer. Rest assured that the only effective way to reduce the noise from above is to start addressing the problem in the source room, that is to say, upstairs. A call to the local building inspection department to ascertain if a certificate of occupancy was issued to see if appropriate sound isolation measures were undertaken and validated can help. A single number rating based on laboratory tests called Sound Transmission Class (STC); the higher the STC number, the greater the airborne sound isolation to provide airborne sound isolation.
This would suggest that a few pennies worth of appropriate caulking could be an ounce of prevention that will save reputations and possibly avoid post construction litigation. However the new buyer should get in writing a guarantee that the floors and party walls will meet minimum building code requirements. In addition excessive reverberation may make speech intelligibility from conversation and TV watching difficult. The problems range from being able to hear voices, loud music, the TV or the bang of cabinet doors.

In the case of a party wall separating two dwellings, the code requires a wall with a minimum of a 50 STC (Sound Transmission Class). In doing so a void may be left at the floor which eventually will be covered by a base board. Caulking is the acoustician’s best friend and its application where necessary can be considered “an ounce of prevention”, but only if you know why. Since kitchens are frequently located back to back, check also impact noise from the kitchen cabinets.
We can also recommend any of the following alternative browsers: Firefox,Safari, Opera or Chrome. The building code also states that while the STCs of the construction assemblies must be a minimum of 50 STC by design it will also pass if an actual measured field test of 45 (FSTC) is achieved.
Unless the upstairs neighbor is willing to install a sound isolating flooring underlay to maintain the appropriate sound isolation the downstairs neighbor is bound to be victimized by intrusive noise.
In the case of wood joist construction a resilient channel applied to the underside of the joists before re-applying the gypsum wall paneling can be a big bang for the buck.
Unfortunately, many building inspection departments do not require validation by actual measurement and while the designing architect may specify a 50 STC or greater, there is little or no on site inspection to insure that good noise control techniques are followed by the drywall subcontractor.
Listen also to other areas of the offending wall, such as plumbing pipes in the bathroom, make a list if you detect sound intrusion in order to give the builder some indication of the noise sources. While kitchen wall surfaces should be isolated from one another, sometimes the surfaces will be bridged thereby short circuiting the sound isolation characteristics. Make sure noise control measures are included in the owner’s association’s regulations where such associations exist. Having a friend initiate impact sounds of the floor above can do this; in addition airborne noise testing can be accomplished by playing a radio in the space above or impacting on the floor, can spot any glaring sound isolation deficiencies. That said, the floor ceiling assembly must be absolutely airtight in order to achieve maximum acoustical performance. The difference of 5 points represents the difference between an idealized lab test and an actual on site field test.

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