Noise Transmission

Noise too easily carries in buildings. There are several problems in the building code that allow for this situation. 

For instance, a fire wall between suites is a good way to prevent noise transmission. But such walls are often partly or entirely missing. In other cases, plumbing and wiring create gaps through which noise escapes. Furthermore, although cement is a good firewall between floors, the type of cement now used can actually be a great noise transmitter.

Drywalls in newer buildings do not absorb noise as well as drywalls that were used in older buildings. In addition, people’s love for hardwood floorings magnifies the problem, even though there is an underpad between the cement and the wood. This is why condos require that 65% of the area of a laminated floor be covered by carpeting to absorb noise. Click here for Noise Problems)

Building Code Problems

At least in Ontario, and this certainly applies to the rest of Canada, the quality of materials going into condo buildings should be higher.

As well, government supervision of buildings while they are being constructed should be less relaxed. We can talk here of inspectors who are largely absent, who are not on sites when insulation is inserted (or not inserted), or are turning a blind eye to defects. Or inspectors who might be on too friendly terms with builders.

Not unexpectedly, the Building Code is one area of legislation that is heavily influenced by various lobbies--as is the case for condo legislation.

One major area that should be addressed is that of sound proofing. High-rise condos, in particular, are vertical cities where a large number of persons live in close proximity to each other. Better sound proofing is necessary in order to make life bearable. It is not “normal” that one hears neighbours talk through the wall, listen to their music, their footsteps, their lovemaking, their quarrels, and so on.

People shouldn’t have to live worrying about having to be as quiet as mice!

Noise, studies have found, has a detrimental effect on both physical and mental health. There is absolutely no excuse when a rich country such as ours builds condos that act as sound transmitters rather than allow residents to enjoy the peace of their unit, as stipulated in the Condo Act.

Finally, the Ontario new home warrantee program (Tarion) needs to be tightened up and owners offered better protection as consumers.