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Stacked towns and noise.

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  • Apr 21st, 2021 5:24 pm
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[OP]
Deal Guru
Feb 29, 2008
14774 posts
11115 upvotes
Tarrana

Stacked towns and noise.

I have always stayed away from stacked towns as I have always feared noise levels would be bad seeing as thryre primarily wood construction and there are too many shared walls/ceilings. I’ve never been a fan but have considered them lately for investment.

Is noise still a thing? Condos have concrete construction and some have pretty subpar noise levels. I can only imagine how bad wood construction stacked townhouses are with builders doing bare minimum.

Asked an acquaintance who owns an older one and he said the noise is not great which was expected but he said the noise comes mostly from stairs and regular footsteps from the units on either side. This is crazy to me.

So I’m wondering if it’s the builder or just that kind of construction lends to more noise. Do thry have stacked towns with concrete/cinder block construction?
23 replies
[OP]
Deal Guru
Feb 29, 2008
14774 posts
11115 upvotes
Tarrana
Jon Lai wrote: I'd be very surprised, but even if this did exist, noise would still be an issue. Have you ever lived in a condo and hear the unit above you? Yup.
You know what? I've only heard distinct noise above me in one condo. The rest either non-existent or very minimal. What I didn't understand was he said he heard people walking next door. Which I have never heard in a condo. Grew up in a detach. We heard our neighbors when they were loud. Never when they were walking or on the stairs.

10 or so years ago I had an acquaintance who lived in a stacked town and it was so bad. Her neighbor nextdoor had kids. When they would come home it was like an earthquake. The kids would run up the stairs. So seeing stacked towns commanding $1m+ I figure maybe they fixed that issue? Likely not.
Deal Addict
Mar 22, 2017
1612 posts
1773 upvotes
West GTA
It depends on the construction. If you share joists, you'll get more lateral noise. If the ceilings aren't isolated and sound dampened, you'll get vertical noise. Typically you want as few shared surfaces and joists as possible. Very hard to address once it's built.
Deal Expert
Feb 7, 2017
17056 posts
14438 upvotes
Eastern Ontario
I think the term stacked townhouses means different things in different cities / provinces
So might be best to clarify that first

Do you mean houses that are 3 or more stories tall ... side by side separate units
Where the ground floor is the garage, then there’s a main floor living area, and a top floor for bedrooms, and possibly a staircase up to a rooftop terrace
Those are called STACKED solely cuz they are taller than a regular townhouse

Or do you mean truly STACKED LITERALLY ... ONE ON TOP OF ANOTHER
Where the building is 4 stories tall
And the bottom unit occupies the main floor & the basement (bedrooms in the basement)
And the top unit occupies the two top floors
They have their own front door at street level ... but they walk up an interior staircase to their main floor
And then their bedrooms are on the top floor
(So they live on floors 2 & 3 ... when you look at the building from the outside)
These types of STACKED TOWNS have no outdoor living space ... just balconies
And no personal garages ... just communal parking areas

Have had friends live in both types of stacked towns
Type A where units are just taller than regular townhouses is nice

Type B where units are usually found in blocks of even numbers ...
Are a good solution for cheaper starter homes ... to get into the housing market
But they particularly suck after awhile if you live in the bottom unit where the bedrooms are below ground
And your only windows are usually facing onto the parking areas ... car lights shining in and a feeling of lack of privacy
And there’s no outdoor space to enjoy
Just a tiny balcony ... and in many cuz of that ... you cannot BBQ (fire regulations)

I had one friend who said it felt claustrophobic
So much so that a whole neighbourhood where they were first built
The locals referred to them as Birdhouses ... cuz that’s what they reminded people of
Deal Expert
May 30, 2005
45827 posts
6324 upvotes
Richmond Hill
PointsHubby wrote: I think the term stacked townhouses means different things in different cities / provinces
So might be best to clarify that first

Do you mean houses that are 3 or more stories tall ... side by side separate units
Where the ground floor is the garage, then there’s a main floor living area, and a top floor for bedrooms, and possibly a staircase up to a rooftop terrace
Those are called STACKED solely cuz they are taller than a regular townhouse
Never heard of these being called a stack town, at least not in Ontario. That just sounds like a regular townhouse.
PointsHubby wrote: Or do you mean truly STACKED LITERALLY ... ONE ON TOP OF ANOTHER
Where the building is 4 stories tall
And the bottom unit occupies the main floor & the basement (bedrooms in the basement)
And the top unit occupies the two top floors
They have their own front door at street level ... but they walk up an interior staircase to their main floor
And then their bedrooms are on the top floor
(So they live on floors 2 & 3 ... when you look at the building from the outside)
These types of STACKED TOWNS have no outdoor living space ... just balconies
And no personal garages ... just communal parking areas

Have had friends live in both types of stacked towns
Type A where units are just taller than regular townhouses is nice

Type B where units are usually found in blocks of even numbers ...
Are a good solution for cheaper starter homes ... to get into the housing market
But they particularly suck after awhile if you live in the bottom unit where the bedrooms are below ground
And your only windows are usually facing onto the parking areas ... car lights shining in and a feeling of lack of privacy
And there’s no outdoor space to enjoy
Just a tiny balcony ... and in many cuz of that ... you cannot BBQ (fire regulations)

I had one friend who said it felt claustrophobic
So much so that a whole neighbourhood where they were first built
The locals referred to them as Birdhouses ... cuz that’s what they reminded people of
Pretty sure OP is referring to this.
Sr. Member
Dec 5, 2009
676 posts
666 upvotes
For the most part, condos are occupied by fewer families so the chance of having kids running around above you are small. Townhouses? They are usually full of families. There is nothing that will stop the sound transmission of little feet running around above you.
Deal Expert
Feb 7, 2017
17056 posts
14438 upvotes
Eastern Ontario
Jon Lai wrote: Never heard of these being called a stack town, at least not in Ontario. That just sounds like a regular townhouse.

Pretty sure OP is referring to this.
For the record, I too live in Ontario
And as I say, I have seen both types referred to as Stacked Townhouses

Type B ...

This type of stacked housing is not new ...
It’s a very core part of Quebec architecture for over 100 years
Where they are called duplexes / triplexes
(Although the correct term architecturally is Superposed Flats)
Or colloquially... Plexes ... or Walk Ups
In that one has to walk up staircases to the 2nd or 3rd level housing
Montreal of course is famous for this type of housing
It’s what the term “Balconville” refers to with their twisting outdoor staircases

Lastly ...

Yes things are called different things in different places
I just recently discovered what we would call a Semi Detached dwelling in Ontario
2 side by units
Is often called a Duplex in Alberta
Where as I said, in Quebec ... a Duplex would be two units stacked one atop another, with a very large footprint, as everything is just on one floor

NOTE - The OP has no RFD Locator, nor has he stated where he lives.
So hence my question ...
Need clarification on what he’s actually referring to here as a “stacked Townhouse”
Deal Addict
May 10, 2011
1469 posts
511 upvotes
Ottawa
In my experience it really depends on who live upstairs. No construction technique will stand a chance against a family with young kids, or guys with their weight lifting equipment, or girls that loves to dance in their high heels, or that "model" family with the piano-playing kid.

The good thing is that after a while you will get used to all the noise.
Deal Expert
User avatar
Sep 21, 2010
15185 posts
4579 upvotes
Montréal
It's kinda an odd question because you're asking for investment, not for living, so I'd imagine that there are many other more crucial factors in play.
Hard work, inheritance, interest on interest accumulating, and stock and real estate speculation. It's all good.
Deal Addict
Jul 21, 2009
1170 posts
623 upvotes
Toronto
PointsHubby wrote: For the record, I too live in Ontario
And as I say, I have seen both types referred to as Stacked Townhouses

Type B ...

This type of stacked housing is not new ...
It’s a very core part of Quebec architecture for over 100 years
Where they are called duplexes / triplexes
(Although the correct term architecturally is Superposed Flats)
Or colloquially... Plexes ... or Walk Ups
In that one has to walk up staircases to the 2nd or 3rd level housing
Montreal of course is famous for this type of housing
It’s what the term “Balconville” refers to with their twisting outdoor staircases

Lastly ...

Yes things are called different things in different places
I just recently discovered what we would call a Semi Detached dwelling in Ontario
2 side by units
Is often called a Duplex in Alberta
Where as I said, in Quebec ... a Duplex would be two units stacked one atop another, with a very large footprint, as everything is just on one floor

NOTE - The OP has no RFD Locator, nor has he stated where he lives.
So hence my question ...
Need clarification on what he’s actually referring to here as a “stacked Townhouse”
I think OP is refering to something like this. Noise in a building like this is probably worse than a Condo esp if you are on the lower units. If its just an investment for OP then noise shouldn't matter cause everyone's noise tolerance is different.
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Deal Addict
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Jul 4, 2009
1088 posts
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Mississauga area
I live in an end unit townhouse that was built in 2007.
My next door neighbor has 3 boys under the age of 9 and they can get loud with their running up and down the stairs and banging around. They don't do it very often, usually they're quiet. It doesn't bother me since I'm up the hours they're up. What I never hear are TV noises or voices or regular moving around.
Deal Fanatic
User avatar
Dec 27, 2009
7479 posts
4765 upvotes
Victoria, BC
PointsHubby wrote:
I just recently discovered what we would call a Semi Detached dwelling in Ontario
2 side by units
Is often called a Duplex in Alberta
Where as I said, in Quebec ... a Duplex would be two units stacked one atop another, with a very large footprint, as everything is just on one floor

NOTE - The OP has no RFD Locator, nor has he stated where he lives.
So hence my question ...
Need clarification on what he’s actually referring to here as a “stacked Townhouse”
Side by side attached houses here in BC have always been referred to as duplexes. I never heard them called "semi" until I moved to Ontario.
Deal Fanatic
User avatar
Dec 27, 2009
7479 posts
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Victoria, BC
I owned in an inside townhouse with very good soundproofing in Ottawa. It was a Minto from 1991, and whatever they did - it worked. Never heard much from either side of us. I would not even consider a stacked town. I have lived in a condo with people on top of me - NEVER again. I would not ever want to have people living above me. I'm not a fan of all the townhouses they are building these days one on top of the other, and also the ones with no yard (back to back, etc).
Deal Expert
Feb 7, 2017
17056 posts
14438 upvotes
Eastern Ontario
submarine wrote: I think OP is refering to something like this. Noise in a building like this is probably worse than a Condo esp if you are on the lower units. If its just an investment for OP then noise shouldn't matter cause everyone's noise tolerance is different.
Ya what I referred to as Type B in Reply # 5

But again ...
We don’t 100% know for sure cuz the OP still hasn’t told us what part of the country he’s in
Or what exactly is the configuration of the unit

I have lived in all sorts of housing in my lifetime
And in many places in Canada

The word townhouse alone ... just typically means connected ... not detached
But within that category there are lots of sub-groupings
(Row Housing - Garden Homes - Carriage Homes etc )
Stacked is but one example ... but as I say ... it, like the others I listed can mean different things in different places
[OP]
Deal Guru
Feb 29, 2008
14774 posts
11115 upvotes
Tarrana
PointsHubby wrote: I think the term stacked townhouses means different things in different cities / provinces
So might be best to clarify that first

Do you mean houses that are 3 or more stories tall ... side by side separate units
Where the ground floor is the garage, then there’s a main floor living area, and a top floor for bedrooms, and possibly a staircase up to a rooftop terrace
Those are called STACKED solely cuz they are taller than a regular townhouse

Or do you mean truly STACKED LITERALLY ... ONE ON TOP OF ANOTHER
Where the building is 4 stories tall
And the bottom unit occupies the main floor & the basement (bedrooms in the basement)
And the top unit occupies the two top floors
They have their own front door at street level ... but they walk up an interior staircase to their main floor
And then their bedrooms are on the top floor
(So they live on floors 2 & 3 ... when you look at the building from the outside)
These types of STACKED TOWNS have no outdoor living space ... just balconies
And no personal garages ... just communal parking areas

Have had friends live in both types of stacked towns
Type A where units are just taller than regular townhouses is nice

Type B where units are usually found in blocks of even numbers ...
Are a good solution for cheaper starter homes ... to get into the housing market
But they particularly suck after awhile if you live in the bottom unit where the bedrooms are below ground
And your only windows are usually facing onto the parking areas ... car lights shining in and a feeling of lack of privacy
And there’s no outdoor space to enjoy
Just a tiny balcony ... and in many cuz of that ... you cannot BBQ (fire regulations)

I had one friend who said it felt claustrophobic
So much so that a whole neighbourhood where they were first built
The locals referred to them as Birdhouses ... cuz that’s what they reminded people of
I mean units stacked on top of each other. You’ll see 3 in a row. One basement unit, one middle unit and one rooftop unit.
[OP]
Deal Guru
Feb 29, 2008
14774 posts
11115 upvotes
Tarrana
submarine wrote: I think OP is refering to something like this. Noise in a building like this is probably worse than a Condo esp if you are on the lower units. If its just an investment for OP then noise shouldn't matter cause everyone's noise tolerance is different.
This would drive me insane and this is what the girl I was talking about lived in. It literally felt like a bull run when the kids next door came home and ran up the stairs.
[OP]
Deal Guru
Feb 29, 2008
14774 posts
11115 upvotes
Tarrana
tranquility922 wrote: It's kinda an odd question because you're asking for investment, not for living, so I'd imagine that there are many other more crucial factors in play.
I wouldn’t invest in anything I wouldn’t live in.
Deal Expert
Feb 7, 2017
17056 posts
14438 upvotes
Eastern Ontario
JayLove06 wrote: I mean units stacked on top of each other. You’ll see 3 in a row. One basement unit, one middle unit and one rooftop unit.
Thanks for this ...

Still curious
Where in Canada ?

Most places the building code is not gonna provide much of a requirement for a firebreak / concrete between units

I know this cuz there’s been some major fires the last few years in Ontario involving such multiple units

The exception is if you buy into a high end type ... those are typically brick on the outside ... not siding
Usually have a central foyer ... maybe a common elevator, that serves the upper 2 or 3 floors
And are truly more like a mini apt block
Although they may be marketed as “stacked towns”
Versus just a use of the word condo
They typically have more generous outdoor spaces for first floor and top floor units ... with patios & terraces

They are often designed intentionally to look more like a Brownstone = https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brownston ... stone1.jpg

Lol, did I mention that the use of the word townhouse confuses things ?
Deal Expert
User avatar
Sep 21, 2010
15185 posts
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Montréal
JayLove06 wrote: I wouldn’t invest in anything I wouldn’t live in.
Good pt. I'm just thinking more of if the noise issue is marginal, but the profit outlook and 'rentability' factors are good, then it's less of a concern.
Hard work, inheritance, interest on interest accumulating, and stock and real estate speculation. It's all good.

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