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August 10, 2020

Blocking Out the Noise

I’ve been spending time this summer with family on Lake Keowee, a stunning 27-mile-long lake in upstate South Carolina. One of our favorite things to do on the boat is to pick out our favorite million-dollar lakefront house and lot. Trust me when I tell you there are many to choose from.

Ah – I found my favorite house. It is on a point of land with views in multiple directions. The house seems to follow the contour of the edge of the lake with bay windows and turrets. Well done! A truly stunning work of residential architecture. Seems a worthy investment for such a prime piece of real estate.

But it is the weekend and the lake is very busy with boats. And while this particular point of land is notable for its vistas, it is also at a place in the lake that is narrow. I noticed the owners had fortified the edge of the lake with major boulders. They must get a lot of wakes eroding the bank of the lake with all the fast-moving boats.

That’s when it hit me. This may be the coolest looking house (and undoubtedly commands a pretty penny), but I wouldn’t want to live there – even if I could afford it. I begin to imagine the noise from all the boats screaming by from dawn to dusk. Wow. I wonder if the owners considered the noise from the lake is like living adjacent to an expressway. According to our own Kevin DeClerk (he’s a boat guy, don’t ask me), many boat manufacturers offer a “Captain’s Call” exhaust when you want to really announce your arrival. You can bet that buyers are selecting that option with regularity. Perhaps the buyers had selected the lot on a weekday when the boat traffic was at a minimal.

On the same lake, a retired couple was looking for a house on the water. The husband came down one weekday in early spring and discovered the most amazing setting. A house up on a bluff overlooking a beautiful spring feed waterfall. That has to be among the best views in the area, right?

He bought the house on the spot. A couple weeks later, his wife arrived to view their new home. But unlike her husband, she arrived on a warm day on the weekend. What she saw – and heard – horrified her. It turns out, the waterfall was where lots of folks would arrive by boat to party. In fact, Google describes it as Party Cove. On a warm weekend, the beautiful cove is filled with anywhere between 10 and 20 boats. What harm could a few boats parked enjoying the beauty of the falls, right? They are not going fast so there is minimal engine noise.

Well, boats these days are equipped with powerful speakers. Naturally, not every boat is listening to the same music. Add a few barking dogs and some raucous characters and can you imagine Redneck Yacht Club is quite the scene! They sold the house and move to a quiet spot off the water. Hopefully, the new buyer is the life of the party!

What other prime pieces of real estate are plagued with unwanted noises? What about golf course lots? If you’re near the tee box, you might hear a swear word or two – especially when followed by the sound of shattering glass!

That is the potential trade-off to prime real estate. You live where everyone visits. For many, it’s a worthy trade-off. But knowing what you’re getting into ahead of time can save headaches down the road. What can actually be done about unwanted sounds? A water feature is a great way to mask unwanted noises – at least the higher frequency noises.

Have you found a solution that works best to block out the noise?

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This post was written by Housing Design Matters