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FOX 13 Investigates: They hear noises in their homes, and Utah law seems to be on the side of the builder

Posted at 9:52 PM, Feb 14, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-15 17:38:42-05

HERRIMAN, Utah — Rachel Jensen says she’s heard her neighbors talking, sneezing and coughing.

“There’s times it’s so loud,” Jensen said, “you jump because it’s unexpected.”

Her neighbor, Shelby Jensen — no relation — says she can hear other people’s showers, flushing toilets, dishwashers and water running in sinks.

“I was just getting ready in the bathroom,” Shelby Jensen said, “and I thought my husband was talking to me, and then I was like, ‘I can hear every single word that they’re saying.’”

“I sleep with earplugs,” she added, “and then when I wake up, [I] put a pillow over my head and can still hear stuff.”

Both women live in a condominium complex in Herriman called Eagle View, built by Edge Homes. Residents here have complained about excess noises to Edge and their homeowners association, records show. A fix has not yet arrived.

Homeowners interviewed by FOX 13 News said they know their neighbors aren’t trying to be loud, but the sounds of everyday household activities travel. Just closing a kitchen cabinet creates a thud heard in the next condo.

The noises are impacting how the condo owners interact with each other. A Herriman police report from 2020, obtained by FOX 13 through a public records request, shows a neighbor dispute began over the ongoing noises.

“The soundproofing in the units appears to be poor as normal walking seemed extremely loud,” the officer wrote.

Rachel Jensen bought her condo after speaking to a salesperson and before construction even finished in 2018.

“They did say that they installed the material that would significantly reduce the sound so it wasn’t disruptive to neighbors,” she recalled. “But right away, I started hearing my neighbors.”

FOX 13s Nate Carlisle joins Max Roth below to discuss his investigative feature

Nat Carlisle discusses his FOX 13 Investigative feature with Max Roth

Minutes from Eagle View’s condo owners association show that residents raised the issue in 2020. But nothing has been done, Rachel Jensen said.

A representative of the condo association did not return FOX 13’s messages.

Not everyone wanted the soundproofing issue to be made public. FOX 13 removed some homeowners from this story after they received a threat referencing their speaking to reporters. The homeowners have reported the threat to Herriman police.

Some homeowners reached out to a contractor who offered a solution — spray foam insulation inside the walls.

Edge declined interview requests, but its lawyer responded in an email that the company has been advised the foam could create a fire hazard. At one point, Edge sent someone to do a warranty inspection, but the standard warranty in Eagle View says noise transmission issues are not covered.

Edge, in a written statement, said its condos are constructed to an “excellent” sound rating. The company also said it didn’t learn about the condo owners' concerns until three years after they after the first homeowners moved in.

One Eagle View condo owner provided FOX 13 a copy of their purchasing contract. It says claims have to be made within two years after construction is completed.

“A purchaser of a condominium has very few legal rights,” said John Morris, a Utah attorney who represents homeowner associations.

He says the first step for anyone not pleased with their purchase is to read their contract. If the contract’s deadline for claims has lapsed, Utah law might still allow for some claims to be made as late as six years after construction, but only in specific cases.

Morris advises homeowners to protect themselves before the purchase by paying for an inspector who goes beyond the rudimentary examinations and looks at issues such as how roofs and walls are constructed.

His advice is a little different for someone buying a home that isn’t constructed yet.

“Then you really need to take the time to read the contract,” Morris said, “and probably get a lawyer involved in that process to make sure that something in the contract protects you.”

“And I would still get inspections all along in the process,” he added.

The Eagle View owners are still hoping Edge Homes comes up with a solution.

"When you’re home and you’re just relaxing or you have friends over or whatever it is, you want to be able to be in your home and enjoy it," Rachel Jensen said.

Read the full statement Edge Homes sent FOX 13 below:

Edge Homes has constructed more than a thousand condominium units along the Wasatch Front, and homeowner complaints of sound transmission are very rare.

Edge first learned of these complaints more than three years after the homeowners purchased and moved in. Even though the warranty for these condominium units had expired, Edge sent representatives to investigate, and they verified that construction methods were performed according to independently designed and engineered plans, which are consistent throughout the entire project. The homeowners made no demonstration of excessive sound transfer.

Edge undertakes an extraordinary effort and cost to engineer and construct condominium units that exceed the standards of the International Building Code, while providing affordable housing to Utahns . Each Edge Condominium Unit is constructed to achieve a Sound Transmission Class in the “EXCELLENT” category.

Furthermore, every wall and floor must be assembled according to approved and tested fire ratings, which limits reasonable options for adding extra sound proofing measures. Simply filling the wall with foam and insulation could compromise the approved fire rating and make the building unsafe. Some sound transfer in attached housing is inevitable and we regret that any Edge Homes customer is not fully satisfied.

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