Sensitive to noise? Here’s what you need to know when house hunting!
July 29, 2019
If you are sensitive to noise, you know that minor sounds can have a major impact on the enjoyment of your home. So when you need to make a move, it’s something you need to take into consideration.
When you have the luxury of time, you can be exhaustive in your search until you find just the right place. However, when you’re looking in Toronto’s housing market, if you hesitate, you can often lose out. On the flip side, it’s easy to get caught up in the heat of the moment and make an offer before you’ve had a chance to check everything out.
So what can you do when you’re buying in a competitive housing market? Figure out what your priorities are and contact a good realtor. Your agent should have information about the noise level in condo buildings as well as the surrounding neighbourhood. A little research can go a long way.
Some things to consider:
When you’re buying a detached house, noise is less of a concern as you don’t share walls with anybody else and you can be as noisy as you want.
But there are some things you should consider….Is the home close to or next to a schoolyard? There’s going to be traffic from parents picking and dropping off their children, not to mention the noise that happens at recess. If you work from home, that could be a nuisance. It could also be a problem if you work the night shift and need to sleep during the day… or if you hate screaming children.
Many people would be put off by a fire station that is close by, but I used to live next to the one on Claremont Street in the Trinity Bellwoods neighbourhood and the trucks didn’t turn their sirens on until they got to Queen Street, which made the home a lot quieter than you’d expect.
If you’re looking at a condo, loft or other building with shared walls, there is no avoiding a certain level of noise and not even a penthouse unit is a guarantee of peace and quiet. In some buildings, the heating and cooling stack can be on the roof above the penthouses which can produce a reverberation. It can really torment you because it never turns off. In the summer with the cooling, it’s even worse.
When looking at condos or lofts, stick your head out the window – what’s down below? A parking lot? A park? Garbage bins? Every week a garbage truck may roll in (and often before 8am). It sounds like common sense, but it’s not uncommon for someone to fall in love with a space and not give a second thought to what’s outside or who the neighbours are.
Is the loft post and beam or is it concrete? If concrete, sometimes you hear even more if somebody’s hammering or drilling because the noise it can run through the building in a way that’s disturbing. If a post and beam conversion, remember during construction of old buildings often the floor boards run through the building and the noise transfer can be substantial.
And speaking of construction, if you’re moving into a neighbourhood where there’s a lot of building going on, be prepared. We have a construction site on the south side of Gerrard Street close to my home and I can hear the bulldozers and squeaky wheels from 7am onwards; not ideal if you want to sleep late and you like the windows open. Of course, construction isn’t permanent, but it can take up to three years before that one building is complete.
Here are a few things you can do:
If you’re really sensitive to noise, consider a detached home. Seriously.
If that’s out of your budget, once you’ve narrowed down a neighbourhood, visit the area at different times of the day. Both the noise level and neighbours can change from day to night. Queen’s Quay may seem pretty peaceful on a Sunday afternoon, but at night, the party boats and ships can produce a lot of noise.
Is the fan, furnace or air conditioning on when you’re viewing a property? If not, turn it on to see how noisy it is. Some buildings have HVAC systems that are more commercial.
Is the building near a parking lot or low rise building? Check the zoning. Chances are a condo tower will replace that lot sooner or later.
Hang around the building and ask a couple of residents what their experience is with the noise level.
Another tip if buying a condo, find out what the condo policy is on floor coverings. Some buildings have requirements that part of the floor has to be covered with area rugs or carpeting.
If you have any questions about quieter spots in Toronto or the real estate market in general, please give me a call!