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How Quiet is my Condo?


“What about the noise?”

We hear this question time and again. It’s one of the larger concerns our customers have when they are considering a condo purchase.

“I like the idea of the condo lifestyle,” a customer told us. “I’m just not excited about hearing my noisy neighbours on all sides. I like a quiet space.”

We get it. And we feel the same way.

“Did you know there have been recent changes to the National Building Code (NBC) to reduce noise transmission” we asked?

In 2015, the NBC, which is Canada's building code that sets technical provisions for the construction of buildings, was updated to change how builders and architects design for acoustics to ensure you have quieter neighbours.

What is required and how they measure it needs a little explaining.

The measure of how much material can reduce noise transmission is called the Sound Transmission Class (STC). The higher the STC number, the less sound transmitted. The NBC now requires an STC rating of 50. For our technically inclined readers, this number is calculated by taking the Transmission Loss (TL) values at 16 standard frequencies over the range of 125 Hz to 4000 Hz and plotting the results on a graph. The TL is simply the difference between decibels in the area from which noise originates and another area the sound travels to. For example, let’s say your neighbours are having a party and they are creating a 90dB tone. That’s quite loud – about as loud as a large truck driving by. When we measure for the same tone on your side, we find it has been reduced to 40 dB – the sound level of a quiet home. That is a 50 dB Transmission Loss. 50 dB less sound energy made it through the wall to the other side for the single tone we measured.

But high STC ratings alone do not always guarantee a quiet condo. That's because sound does not only travel through the air from one room to another. It also travels through the walls, floor and ceiling. This is called “flanking” noise and it isn’t considered in the STC. Fortunately, the NBC required a new rating called Apparent Sound Transmission Class (ASTC) – a much more realistic measure of the actual sound level transmitted between units because it includes noise transmitted through wall, ceiling and floor junctions. In addition to an STC rating of 50, adjacent units in a building must be separated by a wall, floor or ceiling partition with an ASTC rating of at least 47.

We don’t promise your condo will be as quiet as a vault. That’s unrealistic. An especially loud neighbor or an open patio door will still transmit some sound, but isn’t it nice to know you won’t be forced to live through the everyday activities of daily living next door?

Our Triple Crown builders are committed to making sure you can live in relative peace and quiet. It’s one more way we’re helping to ensure you have an amenable relationship with your neighbours!

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