Noisy duplex could use sound barrier

Q: We just purchased a home in a newly built duplex. Everything is OK except noise from the next-door unit. It seems that the adjoining wall is not well insulated. When we're in the bedroom, we often hear snoring or loud talking from the other occupants. Is there something we can do to our bedroom wall (without having to cut it open) to make it soundproof or nearly soundproof?

A: The builder of your duplex apparently did not provide adequate soundproofing when constructing the party wall between the two units, and the framing method may not have been consistent with sound reduction standards. Rather than wondering what you can do to remedy the situation, the builder should be advised of the situation, since the construction is still under warranty.

If the wall is already insulated, they can add soundboard and a second layer of drywall. This should reduce some of the sound transmission, but the degree of improvement will be uncertain until the work is completed.

It would also be advisable to consult with your neighbors. After all, sound transfer works both ways. Perhaps they are hearing conversations and other sounds from your side, as well. If so, they might be interested in a joint effort to improve neighborly acoustics. If sound board is installed on both sides of the wall, the benefits for both parties could be doubled.

Q: No one disclosed the roof problems when I bought my house. Instead, the seller hired a roofing contractor to do an inspection. The contractor issued a two-year roof certification, stating the roof was "watertight." But untold problems were concealed behind that comforting word. I've now learned the roof has many damaged shingles, some of which were repaired with metal patches. My insurance company discovered these defects and is threatening to cancel my policy unless the roof is replaced. Had I known of these conditions, I would have insisted that the sellers make repairs. A year has passed since the sale. What are my options?

A: A roof inspection should do more than merely provide a certification against leakage. It should make full disclosure of all significant defects, including an assessment of the installation, an estimate of age, a description of apparent wear, a list of specific material defects, and details regarding past repairs. If you hired a home inspector, that person should also have disclosed these roofing conditions.

The insurance company, however, should not be the final arbiter of the roof's disposition. Their demands may or may not be founded on reliable information regarding the roof's condition. Instead you should obtain at least two independent evaluations by licensed roofing contractors to determine the general state of the shingles and whether repair or replacement is needed at this time.

Because you relied upon the certification provided by the sellers, their roofing contractor should be asked to explain the lack of pertinent information in that report. Finally, you should notify the sellers that the condition of the roof is not as they had disclosed prior to the sale. They may bear some liability in this regard.

• To write to Barry Stone, visit him on the web at, or write AMG, 1776 Jami Lee Court, Suite 218, San Luis Obispo, CA 94301.

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