During warmer months, no matter where you look, there are construction sites. While all the construction supports the economic engine of the housing market, everything from the demolition to drilling can cause some bad vibrations with the surrounding neighbours.
There are stories across the country. Ottawa residents living next to a condo construction experienced strong vibrations and damaged drywall. Infill housing in Edmonton is causing some of the adjacent property owners to complain about the mess and vibrations. And in Toronto, the Crosstown light rail transit project that will run along Eglinton Avenue has garnered more than 200 noise complaints since November 2015.
From an engineering perspective, vibrations do not necessarily translate to structural damage. While you may feel vibrations, it does not mean there is damage or issues. The average person feels a vibration at around 0.1 millimetres/second which is fairly low. Vibrations that could cause structural damage need to have a substantially higher level. For most structures, the level of vibration typically estimated to cause damage is to be at eight millimetre/second or higher. However, for more sensitive structures the limit must be assessed based on the actual condition of the structure.
However, more and more municipalities are recognizing the need to monitor vibrations during the construction process to ensure the neighbours and buildings are not suffering long-term damage as a result of a new development. This would benefit everyone involved in the building process.
For example, the City of Toronto has a bylaw (Chapter 363) in the Toronto Municipal Code that requires construction companies to monitor anything that potentially has vibrations throughout a project. But it does rely on the company to assess the potential for vibration levels to exceed a certain limit and then monitor and self-report if there is a potential that vibration limits may be exceeded.
If you are living and working next to a construction site and are feeling the vibrations, here are four tips that could help your experience:
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