Do Not Fear the Shared Wall

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Construction / Home Elements/Decorating

The question often comes up when potential buyers visit my Abbey. It may come from folks who have always lived in single-family homes. Or it may come from someone looking to escape noisy neighbors in their current condo or apartment.

 Is it always this quiet?

How much noise do you hear from your neighbors?

I try to reassure them, even though sometimes their expressions make me doubt they totally believe me.

It is quiet—always. Honest.

I don’t hear noise from my neighbors—ever. Honest.

I tell them about visiting Ollie in her Canterbury on the other side of our shared wall. She’ll ask, Did you hear Oliver barking while I was gone?

No, I’ll say.

Did you hear me playing my piano this morning?


If that isn’t enough to convince the skeptics, I hit them with my best anecdote. I swear this is a true story. About a year after I moved in, one of my smoke detectors malfunctioned. Soon all five of them were blaring. My poor cat dove under the bed. I walked around with my hands over my ears.

I must also tell you this happened on a Sunday afternoon during a Bears-Packers game. Given that, I despaired of finding anyone to help me. But I did what I always do when I have a problem. I called Ollie.

I’m sorry about all the noise, I shouted.

What in the world is going on over there? How long has it been like that?

Did you catch that? Ollie wasn’t aware of the ear-splitting racket until she heard it through the phone. Our shared wall had protected her until I called. She suggested a neighbor who generously came over during the game—the Bears were losing big-time anyway—and quieted the detectors.


 I’ve always appreciated what our shared wall does for me, but this week I became curious about how it works. As the quad next to me goes up, I’ve watched the framers install yellow sheets of insulation where the shared walls will be. That layer, which you will note goes all the way to the roof, is fireproof. Here is how the shared wall begins:

shared wall

I had planned to describe the other components of the shared wall. But like so many things in life, it turned out to be more complicated than I expected. Rather than get something wrong, I’ll just show you the plan. (Thanks to Bob for providing this and answering my questions.)

shared wall plan

Note the multiple layers. They include another type of insulation to provide the soundproofing. And this surprised me. One of the most important components of the shared wall is plain old air. It helps deaden sound and vibrations.

One last thing to notice: the entire shared wall sandwich is 10.5 inches thick. No wonder it works so well.

So, buyers, if you have your heart set on an Abbey, a Canterbury, or another Epcon attached home, remember this: There is nothing to fear about the shared wall.


  1. Jody Frazier says

    Caryl- I love how you explained the soundproofing process- I learned a whole lot with that info, and I can share it with others, too! But, as we know the quads are like living in separate-walled places-very quiet. Love your blog!


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