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Condo Purchase and HT Limitations....Advice Needed.... (1 Viewer)

Evan S

Senior HTF Member
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Nov 21, 2001
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Here is my simple dilemma. With my lifestyle and the housing market being as it is, I am contemplating purchasing a condo. I am looking at an end unit in this complex that is very unique...every unit is basically a side by side duplex. I normally listen to music and HT at modest levels, but occasionally let the dogs out to howl. From what I can tell, my main living area would border my neighbors.

Is there any way that I can investigate the building's construction to find out whether or not sound (mainly from the subwoofer) would be an issue? I know this gets brought up here a lot in regards to sound levels and courtesy, but I am normally asking. You would think that most developers would realize that two neighboring walls should be constructed in a way to minimize sound between the two units, but I'm sure that is not always the case.

Does anyone have any horror stories or success stories they want to share or any advice? I would hate to purchase a place and be severely limited in the degree to which I can use my system. I know that not buying a home will limit me to some degree, but I don't want it to be the reason I rue my purchase. Thanks for any help!
 

MikeFR

Supporting Actor
Joined
May 16, 2002
Messages
595
Personally I would look for an end unit that does not have the main living area bordering the other unit. The best option is a corner or end unit with the main room having 'outside' walls, and (if there are mulitple floors) in a perfect world a laundry facility(aka no people) below.

Considering that you are purchasing and you are an HTF member:) I would hold out until you can find the right place.
 

KyleS

Screenwriter
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Jul 24, 2000
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You would think that most developers would realize that two neighboring walls should be constructed in a way to minimize sound between the two units, but I'm sure that is not always the case.
Yes we would think that but reality is they manufactured those Condos as quick and cheap as possible (Not all cases but quite a few). Talk to the other neighbors and see what they have to say about other shared neighbors and noise coming from them. That may give you a better idea of how you can setup your HT or if its a no go.

KyleS
 

Evan S

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Nov 21, 2001
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I actually spoke with the realtor who works with the woman selling the unit. Supposedly, her 22 year old son was the last tenant with his buddy. They threw a lot of parties and the neighbors never complained once. In fact, the woman used to visit the neighbors often to make sure her son wasn't a problem and they never seemed to mind at all. Now, a big, pounding subwoofer may be considered worse than a loud party, but I don't play my system that late at night, and usually at normal volume levels (never reference levels!), so I should be OK, I would think. Going to check the place out again tonight and make a judgement.

One other thing...the realtor found out about the wall construction between units and is providing me that documentation tonight so I will have it to review. Supposedly the builder was reputable and is known for quality construction.
 

ken thompson

Second Unit
Joined
Jun 5, 2000
Messages
251
If its a firewall between the two units you'll be in good shape but they usually only install firewalls every two or three units though. Condos and HT are not good combinations.
 

KyleS

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I actually spoke with the realtor who works with the woman selling the unit. Supposedly, her 22 year old son was the last tenant with his buddy. They threw a lot of parties and the neighbors never complained once.
What does the realtor have to gain by telling you what you want to hear? Nothing but A sale. Seriously talk to the neighbors, I would recommend the same to someone looking to buy a house to make sure that you get along with the people who you will be living next to and second that they say the noise cant be heard.

KyleS
 

Mark C Sherman

Second Unit
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May 14, 2001
Messages
300
Is It a Multi level Condo? If so I would Recomend dong something in the basement, If it has one. But I would talk to the neighbors First before you sign on the Dotted line.


Reading this it makes me think How important HT is to all of us here.


Lets see Great location, Low taxes, Great Schools for the kids But wait I cant have an HT??????!!!!!!! NEXT PLEASE:D
 

Stephen_Opipari

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Feb 22, 2000
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Real Name
Stephen
I live in a Condo, I have a HT. No problem. My unit is surrounded on all three sides and there is a unit under mine. I have never had a complaint. I just keep everything at a modest level.

We do have firewalls between all units, which helps a lot and they do a mudbed on the upper unit floors so there's a lot of dampening from that between me and the unit below.

I also have upgraded insulation, maybe you can see if you can get insulation added to all the shared walls to help dampen the sound a bit if you are concerned about it.
 

Jason_Els

Screenwriter
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Feb 22, 2001
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The only way to know for sure is to setup something like a boom box and crank it then check out what it sounds like from the neighbor's place. If the neighbors have half a brain they will be thrilled that you, a potential neighbor, are being so considerate to think of them before buying. Only they can tell you what noise levels will annoy them and what sound levels will please you.

This may sound like a pain in the ass but serious consider bringing in at least one speaker, your sub, and receiver and a portable tv and dvd player. You could be living here for YEARS. Not taking a day to try it out could have you regretting it for YEARS.

I'm dead serious. With such an important decision it's the only way to know.
 

Evan S

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Nov 21, 2001
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This may sound like a pain in the ass but serious consider bringing in at least one speaker, your sub, and receiver and a portable tv and dvd player. You could be living here for YEARS. Not taking a day to try it out could have you regretting it for YEARS.
Good advice and I'm going to see if I can swing this. It is a multi-level condo, but no basement, and nobody above me either...just one tenant to the left.

I realize the realtor is just trying to make a sale and I also realize that I would need to speak with the neighbors directly...I would never sign on the dotted line without doing so.

Thanks for the advice.
 

MikeAlletto

Senior HTF Member
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Mar 11, 2000
Messages
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Why a condo and not a house? Condos are basically apartments that you own. You get the benefit of ownership, but the hassles of apartment living.
 

MarkHastings

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Jan 27, 2003
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This sounds like a topic I've been wrestling with the past few years. I really don't want to buy a house and have to keep up with yard work and maintenance, etc. Yet I fear that I will never again be able to enjoy my HT system in a condo. :frowning:

Maybe they should come up with a new sub that is bassy, yet doesn't travel too far. Instead of Home Theater, it can be Condo Theater :D CT??
 

Ryan Wright

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Jul 30, 2000
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I really don't want to buy a house and have to keep up with yard work and maintenance, etc.
So buy a house with a small yard. Throw in a basic, no frills lawn, and pay some kid $10 a week to mow it - or buy yourself one of those robotic lawnmowers for $800 and let it loose once a week.

That's what I'd do. :)
 

Glenn Overholt

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Mar 24, 1999
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I'm still debating this issue myself. I recently spoke with a condo security guard, and he told me that any noise above the talking level (65db?) is grounds for eviction.

I think the realtor should get you (in writing) a fixed maximum db level.

Would it be possible to raise the floor of your living room? Pull up the carpet, and cross-member it with 2x4's, insulation and a plywood top and put the carpet back down and add a few stairs. Would that work or even be allowed?

Also, and I am probably way off here, but if you calibrated a receiver at 85db and ran movies at -20, wouldn't that come to 65db?

Glenn
 

Evan S

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Nov 21, 2001
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Why a condo and not a house? For the same square footage (about 1100 sq ft), a house here in CT is about $40,000 more expensive. Also, I have a very busy lifestyle and do not want the hassle of upkeep and yardword that a house would require.

Trust me, if I could feasably purchase a house on my budget, I would. As it stands, I can't so I'm SOL. Now if I was married and had another person to help with the mortgage, this thread wouldn't have even been created.

The way I look at it, if I don't buy a condo, I'm simply going to have to rent out another apartment, which means I will still have the same HT restrictions I have now, but will still not be building any equity, but I was hoping for the best of both worlds and was hoping some condo owners would share some GOOD condo HT experiences.
 

Josh Lowe

Screenwriter
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Jun 19, 2002
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I'm about to do the same thing. My tact has been this -

1. I found a place that was renovated from office space into condos. It has concrete block walls and hardwood floors with more concrete and steel beneath.

2. It's an end unit. There are people above and below, but not to the side.

3. When I move in, the -very- first thing I will do is introduce myself to my neighbors and explain to them that I always try to be ultra-conscious of their peace and quiet and privacy, so if the music or whatever becomes too loud at any given point, don't hesitate to come and let me know, and it won't happen again.

And if you have cool neighbors, they might even be open to letting you "sound test" so you can find what the max level is before it becomes audible for them.

My only concern is my SVS, since it fires straight down. If worst comes to worse, I'll drop it from my setup and go another route. I'm the one who moved there, after all.
 

McPaul

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Evan, I'm looking to do the same thing myself in a year or so and am trying to debate between a condo and a house. I don't want to do yardwork or maintenance either but I can't see any possible way I can enjoy my theater in a condo without my conscience getting to me, even with a firewall, and only one neighbor on an end unit.

Any way you can go with a slightly lower sq ft or perhaps a slightly different location and still get a house?
 

Evan S

Senior HTF Member
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Nov 21, 2001
Messages
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Any way you can go with a slightly lower sq ft or perhaps a slightly different location and still get a house?
Paul, I am researching any and all possibilities. I will not settle unless I find the optimum place. Thankfully, my present residence has no lease requirement so I am free to leave when I find the right place.
 

Stephen_Opipari

Stunt Coordinator
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Real Name
Stephen
I'm still debating this issue myself. I recently spoke with a condo security guard, and he told me that any noise above the talking level (65db?) is grounds for eviction.
Huh?

They can't evict you from a condo, you *own* it. The association might be able to fine you, and if you don't pay your fines, the can put a lein on your unit for the cost in the fines, but they can't 'evict' you.

We have a rule at our condo about not having any 'loud' noises after 9pm. Well, I play the HT at a moderate level (about 20db off reference) and as I said, no complaints and I have been there for going on 4 years.

Trying to get in good with the neighbors beforehand is probably the best advice. See what they think is loud, and heck, you might hit it off with them and have a beer buddy when watching movies.
 

Evan S

Senior HTF Member
Joined
Nov 21, 2001
Messages
2,210
To recap things, I walked away from this situation. I just had a gut feeling that the subwoofer would be a problem for my neighbors even though we don't have a common wall. I just don't want to chance it. I'm going to continue to be on the lookout for a small cape or ranch in my price range. Thanks guys.
 

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