“Soundproofing is unfortunately the poor child of the construction world because we don’t talk about it enough, even though it’s a major problem,” says Vincent Moreau, vice-president of AcoustiTech.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), humans are affected first by air pollution, then by noise pollution. In fact, when we visit an apartment, we observe everything, but we rarely think to listen. Still, the noise can be unbearable.
To find out if the dwelling is noisy, plan to visit it at a busy time, such as the end of the day, when people are home from work. If necessary, come back at another time to see, for example, the impact of noise from outside traffic. Also, don’t hesitate to ask the neighborhood.
As a potential buyer of an off-plan, new or recent condo, ask the syndicate of co-ownership to provide you with documents on the acoustic performance of the building. If there aren’t any or he seems reluctant to provide them, that’s a bad sign.
“Ten years ago, we saw a lot of real estate projects that advertised superior acoustic comfort, but few standards were established,” continues the vice-president of AcoustiTech. There are also currently many lawsuits for acoustic non-compliance, because the performances do not correspond to the criteria expected by the inhabitants. »
The document must take into account airborne noise, which comes in particular from voices, radio and television, as well as impact noise, resulting from a shock or vibration, such as someone moving, moving furniture or falling objects.
In an old building, this information is rarely accessible, but you can ask for the plans of the building and contact an acoustician to assess any noise pollution, namely airborne noise and impact noise. The acoustician is a sound inspector. He will carry out a technical analysis to find out whether the soundproofing meets acceptable standards or not, much like the building inspector checks various important points before buying a property. You can therefore request that the sale be conditional on the result of the acoustic inspection.
Some possible solutions: adding gypsum to existing walls or injecting insulating wool into the ceiling are techniques aimed at improving sound insulation. But before acting, it is imperative to go through several steps: request authorization from the condominium association, check with an acoustician what is the best method for your home and call on a professional acoustician to carry out this type of works.
Michael Courrier, promoter and president of Dorem, renovates homes in central Montreal neighborhoods and makes it a point of honor to soundproof them as well as possible. “I work on old, existing buildings, which makes it difficult to fix soundproofing, especially when there are beautiful original wood floors and the ceilings are decorated with rosettes and plaster moldings, because you don’t don’t want to damage them,” he said.
You must then choose one of the following options. We can do the minimum, that is to say inject soundproofing wool into the ceiling, or else we keep the ceilings and strip the floors, to soundproof through the floor, which will raise it a little. You can also keep the floors and strip the ceilings, to soundproof through the ceiling, which will lower it a little. Last option: keep only the joists and strip the floors and ceilings, to soundproof on both sides.
Another important point are the windows, especially if the rooms face a busy street. “Triple glazing is the most effective, but it can be double as long as the two thicknesses of glass are different to cut sound. »
Courrier also recommends checking top-floor units in new or recent construction for noise emanating from the roof. “Air conditioning compressors or heat pumps are often installed there and cause vibration. The problem can be solved with a base that will absorb the noise. »
Like Vincent Moreau, he confirms that unless you obtain a document demonstrating good soundproofing of the building, asking an acoustician to do an analysis before buying is really worthwhile to ensure your peace of mind and not not have the feeling of living with your neighbours.