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How to choose a quiet property before you buy

Peace and quiet is difficult to quantify, yet many home buyers have it as one of their main requirements. Here are some tips for choosing a quiet property.

Choosing Quiet Property

Article summary

  • Location is the most important factor when ascertaining the noise levels of a property.
  • Determining the noise levels in the area will require you to do a thorough investigation of the neighbourhood before signing an offer to purchase (sales agreement).
  • Certain aspects of the property, such as the thickness of the walls, or the type of floors, can make a big difference as well.

Whether you’re looking for a retirement home, a tranquil holiday escape, or you simply want silence and solitude following a hard day’s work; peace and quiet is going to be high on your list of requirements when looking for a home.

But ‘peace and quiet’ is also difficult to quantify. An estate agent can give you a house tour, and a building inspector can give you a structural analysis, but who’s going to evaluate the level of noise in the neighbourhood for you? Of course, there are ways to ascertain whether a property meets your requirements in this regard, but it will take some investigation on your part.

Choosing a quiet property: What to look out for

There are things you can do to drown out unwanted noise (like installing a water feature), but for the most part, this is something that’s avoidable if you know what to look out for – and location is the most significant factor.

These are some of the things to look out for before buying a property:

Explore the neighbourhood

Your first step is to look for potential sources of noise in the neighbourhood. Some of these will be easy to identify, like a nearby school, restaurant or nightclub. Others won’t be so obvious, such as the position of the property on the street. For example, if it’s positioned on a hill, you might have to deal with the sound of motor vehicles braking or accelerating outside your home. If it’s at an intersection, traffic will be heavier. These are the small details you need to take into account.

Pets, and children, are the biggest culprits when it comes to noise. If you’re looking for a house, this might be more difficult to avoid, but with an apartment, you can narrow your search down to apartment blocks that prohibit pets.

Visit at different times of the day

The mistake a lot of house hunters make is judging an area’s noise levels by what it’s like during work hours. Of course, if you’re scheduling a tour with the estate agent, it’s likely to happen during work hours, but you should try to schedule additional visits for different times of the day so you can get a more complete picture.

If you can’t visit the property after work hours, you can still take a walk around the neighbourhood and get an idea of what goes on during that time.

Layout and structure

Now that you’re done evaluating the neighbourhood, it’s time to examine the property itself. Pay attention to the walls and floors; thicker walls obviously help if you’re looking for an apartment, and carpeted floors help muffle the sound of footsteps. New developments are more likely to be in good condition, and to have soundproofing measures in place, so focus on your search on modern apartment blocks and newly built complexes.

In the case of an apartment; you’ll want to look at units on the upper levels. The higher they are, the further they are from traffic and other street-level noises. When you’re inspecting an apartment, be sure to open the window and test how well sound travels. Also take note of where in the apartment the bedroom is, so you can get an idea of how likely noise levels are to affect your sleep at night.

Positioning

If it‘s a house you’re after, the structure of the home in relation to your neighbours will be something you need to take into account. Are the houses close together (usually the case in older neighbourhoods)? Where are the noisier areas of the neighbour’s home, such as the kitchen or braai area, positioned in relation to the property you’re currently evaluating? Factoring in details such as this may seem a lot of work, but will certainly pay off in the long run.

To make the home-buying process easier, make use of South Africa’s leading home loan comparison service, ooba. With a range of home loan calculators, you can determine exactly what you can afford. Start with ooba’s free, online prequalification tool, the ooba Bond Indicator. Then, once you’ve found a home that meets your requirements, you can apply for a home loan.

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Effective 1 April 2018, by order of National Treasury, Value-Added Tax (VAT) will increase from 14% to 15%.

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