Rowhouse party wall + sound transmission

Discussion in 'Home / Garden / Outdoors' started by klk197, Dec 16, 2015.

  1. klk197

    klk197 Well-Known Member

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    What rights do I have in a quality of life issue?

    The house next door has been undergoing renovation for 7 months. The homeowner is organizing the work himself--a bunch of different trades (his buddies?) have demolished and rebuilt the interior of the house. Progress has been slow and obviously not well-planned, likely a combination of lack of know-how and penny pinching. While the demo and reconstruction was going on, it was loud and uncomfortable for us, but we believed it was a short-term annoyance. Finishes are now going in, and we can hear "everyday" sounds coming through the party wall. Both houses were built at the same time (1890s) and the masonry is old. In the past, we could hear previous occupants through the wall only during extreme shouting matches (the sort where the cops were called by multiple neighbors). Now, we can hear cell phones ring, radios on--and which song it is--and doors closing. Yesterday I could hear the sound of a trash bag being filled. Crazy.

    A month ago, before finishes were on site, I mentioned my concerns to the homeowner after a particularly loud episode that wasn't "construction noise". He thought it was temporary as an interior wall had just been taken down and would be replaced. I knocked on the door last night to speak with him, but there was no answer. I plan on trying again tonight. I don't expect much from him, though, as I think he's in way over his head financially and in terms of construction knowledge. And he will likely use this as a rental, so he will not suffer any personal discomfort.

    Do I have any right to force the issue? It seems to me you can either improve or leave the wall as is, but you can't degrade the integrity of its sound transmission. Are there any codes I can cite?
     
  2. PASnow

    PASnow Well-Known Member

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    Do you have exposed brick? I'm wondering if previously they had a wall up (typically plaster from the old days, along with wood paneling or drywall added later) and took that down to exposed brick. Small holes in the masonry could lead to the sound transmission coming thru.
     
  3. OakmontGuy

    OakmontGuy NE Philadelphia Proud!

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    Here are a few things to think about which may offer some avenues to relief.

    Do they have all the necessary permits for their work on the property? Are ALL the people working on this property properly licensed to do this work? Are they doing the work between the "quality of life" hours stipulated in the City Code? Are they disposing of any waste properly? Are those "buddies" of his doing this on their own time? If so, do their employers know about this? Would they get into hot water if their employers found out?

    You can also explore the City of Philadelphia's Commission on Human Relations website for possibilities. Look here.

    Sometimes just having this information under your arm when you talk to the homeowner is enough to get them to be responsive to your concerns.
     
  4. Tail

    Tail Well-Known Member

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    Asking someone this type of question may lead to you getting your ass kicked.
     
  5. OakmontGuy

    OakmontGuy NE Philadelphia Proud!

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    True. Which is why it's fortunate that there are many ways of discovering the answers without having to ask anyone.

    "Hi, I'm calling to get an estimate on getting one of my interior walls replaced. I noticed one of your guys doing work on a property near mine. You guys are great, doing work at night and on the weekends."
     
  6. PASnow

    PASnow Well-Known Member

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    How would you know where they work & what ph # to call their boss at?
     
  7. OakmontGuy

    OakmontGuy NE Philadelphia Proud!

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    You'd be amazed at how many guys use their work vehicles for moonlighting. They also wear work hats with their company logo on it. Sometimes they even use scrap items from their work. You just have to keep your eyes open. Even if they're being careful, eventually they'll slip. And with a little social engineering, you can even grease the track a little.
     
  8. stock

    stock Well-Known Member

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    Houses built at that time most often had crossing joists in the pockets of the party walls. When you remodel, you are supposed to shoot a fire retardant foam in the opening. It's a special orange color so it's easy to identify.

    When old walls are taken down and new dry wall put up, you loose mass and that can lead to sound. The smallest whole will transmit sound. We where hired to build a professional sound studio a few years ago and the owner hired a sound Engineer to guide us (since it's so specialized) and it was an eye opener. Learned a lot about sound. This does not help now, but it may be the solution later.
     

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