Mike, Other/Just Looking in Near North Side, Chi...

In general, what type of high rises are considered more sound-proof--vintage buildings, 60s-70s buildings, or new construction?

Asked by Mike, Near North Side, Chicago, IL Sat Jan 16, 2010

Help the community by answering this question:

+ web reference
Web reference:


Daniel Cullen, Other Pro, Chicago, IL
Tue Jan 19, 2010
Hi Mike,

Thanks for sending me an email with your question and thank you Chris for referring Mike to me. I'm going to reprint my email response to Mike for what it's worth. It's an interesting question and one that many homebuyers fail to ask until it's too late and they are experiencing problems. The most onerous type of noise in a home, in my experience, is overhead noise. There is something especially oppressive about it. There are a lot of very good ways to prevent unit-to-unit sound transmission during construction and there are also some more difficult and expensive methods to address is ex post facto. Here's my answer to Mike.

Hi Mike,

Thanks for your question. I don't know if I can add anything special
to your concern about sound transmission in a high rise condo.

If I were looking for a place where I could practice my piano w/o
bothering neighbors or generating complaints, I would present those
concerns to the building mgmt. personnel of the building that
interested me.

They are the folks that field noise complaints and should have a
pretty good feel for the ability of their units to contain noise.

The most difficult kind of noise to control is point impact sound.
That is not a problem obviously with your piano music. Is it a problem
to have your piano on a thick rug? Would you consider perhaps having
some fabric/carpet wall hangings to also absorb sound?

Most high rise condos are similarly constructed with reinforced
concrete floor/ceiling assemblies, so there may not be much difference
in the STC ratings. One exception to that would be in buildings that
have dropped drywall ceilings in addition to the structural concrete
ceilings. I'm not sure which, if any, of the buildings you are
considering may have that additional layer of sound absorption.

Feel free to give me a call anytime to discuss further. Or if you
prefer, send an email. There are also sound absorbing drywall boards
available that could, conceivably, be installed over the concrete
ceiling of a condo unit or living room. One such product is called,
"QuietRock" their website has a lot of info on controlling sound.

0 votes
Mike, , Near North Side, Chicago, IL
Sun Jan 17, 2010
Thank you all for your answers. I hesitated to name any particular buildings, but (because I would like a balcony) I am looking at Harbor House Condo at Belmont and LSD, Lake Park Plaza at Pine Grove and Irving, The Waterford on Marine, and the Mailbu and Malibu East on Sheridan. I am a pianist and have a baby grand piano, so I would hate to have the neighbors pounding on the ceiling the first time I play the piano in my new unit. I know the Malibu buildings and I believe the Waterford were built as condos, so is it possible they might have a better sound rating than those which were apartment conversions?
0 votes
Matt Laricy, Agent, Chicago, IL
Sun Jan 17, 2010
Thats a pretty tough question, because each building is built differently. If sound is a concern, when you get interested in a building find out about the contruction to see how effective the "sound proofing" is for each unit.

Matt Laricy
Americopr Real Estate
Brokers Associate, e-PRO
0 votes
Jennifer Ames, Agent, Chicago, IL
Sun Jan 17, 2010
Dear Mike,

The most important consideration in understanding sound proofing is to know what is between the units. There are some pre-war buildings and some newer 3-6 unit condo buildings (built in the 1990's) where the space between the floors is hollow. In such a case, you do hear people walking above you.

There are other buildings where there is concrete or layers of insulation between the floors. They tend to be much quieter, however if someone is wearing high heeled shoes, you may still hear them. Most high-rise buildings constructed in the 60's and 70's are in the latter category.

Many early loft conversion do not have insulation for sound, and your ceiling is your upstairs’ neighbor's floor. But the newer "soft lofts" usually have the necessary layers to keep sound separate.

My suggestion is that as you look at homes, be sure to ask. Best of luck!

Jenny Ames
0 votes
Chris Michae…, , Chicago, IL
Sun Jan 17, 2010
This question is probably best answered by a home inspector with a background in construction. Dan Cullen of Domicile Consulting has inspected thousands of properties and could give you an educated answer. Shoot him an email or call him up:

Dan Cullen
Cell 773.771.6466
Fax 773.409.5106

He also has a Trulia account, so he might happen to see this question and post an answer online.


Chris Michaelson
Web Reference:  http://www.312agent.com
0 votes
Philip Sencer, Agent, Chicago, IL
Sun Jan 17, 2010
I do not think there is a clear answer. It really depends on the building. VIntage buildings probably are consistantly built better with respect to soundproofing in terms of high rise, not necessarily low rise. Some of the buildings built in the 60-70's were poorly constructed and some are more solid......same for new construction. The location of the unit within the building can also play a part.
There are other issues to consider besides sound proofing. If you have a particular building in mind, I might be able to give you a better answer.

0 votes
Search Advice
Ask our community a question

Email me when…

Learn more