Polling Popville: noise issues between row houses?

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Topic: Polling Popville: noise issues between row houses?

Real Estate July 28, 2013 at 5:34 pm

Polling Popville: noise issues between row houses?

After years in a small apartment, we are relocating to a bigger space, and are looking at a variety of neighborhoods in DC and VA. We’d like to stay in the city but are hesitant to live in a row house because we are concerned about having adjoining walls. Specifically, we currently have really annoying noisy neighbors at all hours (above and below) and are worried about having the same problem again. We have asked friends who live in row houses – some do, some don’t. We’d appreciate hearing from Popvillers living in row houses: do you hear noises from adjoining properties? To what level is it bothersome, i.e. has it ever woken you up?
We appreciate you sharing your experience as we make a significant financial decision.
Thank you!

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I lived in a stacked rowhouse out in VA and now live in a condo in a converted rowhouse in DC (my condo takes up one entire floor of the rowhouse). I’ve never had problems with noise bleeding through the side walls. The only time I can hear my neighbors is when we’re all out on our back porches, which is a problem you’d have in a single family that was close to its neighbors.

The “party wall” between my condo building and the row houses next to it is quite thin; I can usually hear sounds of a TV when it’s on (though not the specific show) and if someone is yelling (rare) or playing music, that too. However, I’ve found that a white noise machine in the bedroom eliminates any bothersome noise when I sleep. Honestly, the sirens running up and down the street (we’re on an ambulance/firehouse artery) is more disruptive than anything the neighbors do.

Yes, we can hear the kids next door when they yell or their piano when they play it. The piano is the most annoying, and that has woken us up, but generally it isn’t really a problem. We might hear things like vacuum cleaners if it’s very quiet, but it isn’t loud enough even to notice if you’re not paying attention. Generally there’s less noise bleed than in a typical apartment building but not no noise bleed. (We’re in Mt. Pleasant with typical brick and terra cotta party walls.)

I rarely hear my neighbors in my row house in Capitol Hill and when I do it is very faint – I usually only notice it because my dog hears it. I hear less in a row house than I ever have in an apartment building.

I know there are kinds of drywall that you can install to keep noise out. So maybe as you are looking you can ask if they have that installed. Some row houses are built without party walls – there is a small space of air between the homes and they are connected just at the front and top. I imagine that keeps the noise down as well. I lived in a house like this in Woodley Park.

You are always going to have some lack of privacy and noise when you live in close proximity to others – whether that is an apartment building, a row house, or a single family home on a small lot. I hear my neighbors more when they are on the back patio or coming in and out of the front door than anything else.

I’ve lived in apartment buildings and rowhouses in DC, and overall, noise has been a way bigger problem in the apartments. When looking for houses, I’d check with the insulation, especially in renovations. I rented a row house where the renovators did not properly insulate the walls just so they could add more squarefootage, and we could hear our neighbors loud and clear. Otherwise DC’s sturdy rowhouses (that I’ve seen) hide noise pretty well!

I own a rowhouse that is sandwiched between two neighbors, but I only get noise transference from one side. The flippers of my house exposed the brick on the entire wall against the ‘noisy’ side, and I blame the noise transference on that. Sometimes I fantasize about dry walling over the brick again, and I just might, once the exposed brick fad gets old. If I were you I would avoid houses with extensive exposed brick if you are very concerned about noise.

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