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Is it crazy to move my Steinway B into a Victorian condo? #2845817
05/06/19 03:33 PM
05/06/19 03:33 PM
Joined: Apr 2003
Posts: 12
California
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Bacholater Offline OP
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Bacholater  Offline OP
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California
Hi -

A Steinway B owner here. I'll be moving to San Francisco in the next few months and am in the process of house hunting as we speak. I love those old Victorian/Edwardian condos with high ceilings and period details, but I am not sure if it's a sensible idea to own a grand piano in an old condo? No matter how charming those condos are, there is no point if I end up not being able to play my piano at all...Any thoughts?

I currently live in a house in the suburb, and nobody has complained about my playing so far...:-)

Thank you!

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Re: Is it crazy to move my Steinway B into a Victorian condo? [Re: Bacholater] #2845824
05/06/19 03:54 PM
05/06/19 03:54 PM
Joined: May 2001
Posts: 22,620
Victoria, BC
BruceD Offline
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Victoria, BC
So much will depend upon the sound insulation quality of a Victorian structure when it was converted to a condo and the bylaws of the Home Owners' Association that governs noise-control. Whether sensible or not, it may not even be possible to own a grand in such a condo.

If you have already made contact with a real-estate agent, that's the person to whom you should address your question. That agent may even be able to find you the type of condo you desire without a piano restriction. If you have not yet made such a contact, perhaps you can do so before you make your decision about the disposition of your piano.

For what it's worth: A year before I moved here, I was visiting in Victoria and interviewed several real estate agents at that time. I finally chose one who I believed had both my accommodation and music interests at heart, and he kept in touch with me with listings throughout the year before I returned to Victoria on a permanent basis. He helped me find the home I now own where I can have and play my Estonia. If you were to have a similar opportunity, it might prove beneficial in the long run.

Best of luck!

Regards,


BruceD
- - - - -
Estonia 190
Re: Is it crazy to move my Steinway B into a Victorian condo? [Re: BruceD] #2845828
05/06/19 04:16 PM
05/06/19 04:16 PM
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Posts: 12
California
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Bacholater Offline OP
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Bacholater  Offline OP
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Thank you! Good advice. It just occurred to me that I should also quiz my tuner (who lives in SF) and see what he thinks.

Re: Is it crazy to move my Steinway B into a Victorian condo? [Re: Bacholater] #2845844
05/06/19 05:33 PM
05/06/19 05:33 PM
Joined: Jan 2010
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Chicago
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iLaw Online content
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It also is going to depend on the unit's layout. I had a duplex years ago with the piano on the upper level and my own bedrooms underneath. If, on the other hand, I had had neighbors on the floor directly below the piano I'm sure the cops would have arrived about halfway through my first Allegro Barbaro.

Larry.

Re: Is it crazy to move my Steinway B into a Victorian condo? [Re: Bacholater] #2845851
05/06/19 06:13 PM
05/06/19 06:13 PM
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I don't think a condo's rules could forbid one from playing the piano at all. Restricting the hours, yes, but prohibitions, no. Check the condo documents before you get serious about a unit (something you should do anyway) for relevant rules.

People listen to music, have dogs, have parties, and, in short, live, in condos all the time. There has to be room for tolerance. If you find a condo where nothing is allowed--no parties, no pets, no visitors, no music--it sounds like a condo you should avoid for many reasons, only one of which would be the piano problem.

Re: Is it crazy to move my Steinway B into a Victorian condo? [Re: Bacholater] #2845852
05/06/19 06:15 PM
05/06/19 06:15 PM
Joined: Oct 2004
Posts: 895
Santa Fe, NM
AaronSF Offline
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I lived in San Francisco for 23 years. Your biggest problem with a Victorian may be getting the B into the apartment as the internal stairs in those old Victorians and Edwardians are often quite narrow. I lived in a 15-unit condo building on Upper Market for 14 years. When condo shopping I only look at units where the piano could be easily moved in...so my final selection was 1 straight, wide flight up. Any decent real estate agent will take your B into account before showing you properties.

Of course noise in condos is another issue. I believe SF law permits the playing of musical instruments during the day and up to maybe 10:00 pm in rentals, but most condos have their own set of "house rules" and CC&Rs that may be more restrictive concerning noise. Even with all the laws and rules permitting musical instruments, that doesn't mean your condo neighbors won't complain and make your life heck. I didn't have a problem because my upstairs neighbor was a vocal coach who worked out of his condo. Most condo-converted old Victorians are 2-4 units, so what your potential neighbors think about piano noise is super important. You would be wise to interview them all first before signing the escrow documents.

Personally, I wouldn't want to live in a condo with only 2-4 units because it becomes very difficult to address issues concerning the common areas (e.g., hallways, exterior paint and maintenance, roof, plumbing, etc.) As you may know, when you own a condo what you really own is from the paint on the walls in. Anything on the other side of your wall paint is "common area" to be maintained by all owners. Getting 3 of 4 owners to agree to pay for expensive (or even no-so-expensive) maintenance and repairs is not easy. It's not unusual in SF to find a beautiful Victorian condo in a poorly maintained building.


August Förster 215
Re: Is it crazy to move my Steinway B into a Victorian condo? [Re: Rank Piano Amateur] #2845854
05/06/19 06:16 PM
05/06/19 06:16 PM
Joined: Apr 2018
Posts: 4,846
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Originally Posted by Rank Piano Amateur
There has to be room for tolerance. If you find a condo where nothing is allowed--no parties, no pets, no visitors, no music--it sounds like a condo you should avoid for many reasons, only one of which would be the piano problem.

Agree! To that end, always read the fine print on the HOA documents with a magnifying glass before you buy!


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Re: Is it crazy to move my Steinway B into a Victorian condo? [Re: Rank Piano Amateur] #2845887
05/06/19 08:45 PM
05/06/19 08:45 PM
Joined: Jan 2010
Posts: 1,173
Queensland, Australia
backto_study_piano Offline
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Queensland, Australia
Originally Posted by Rank Piano Amateur
I don't think a condo's rules could forbid one from playing the piano at all. Restricting the hours, yes, but prohibitions, no. Check the condo documents before you get serious about a unit (something you should do anyway) for relevant rules.

People listen to music, have dogs, have parties, and, in short, live, in condos all the time. There has to be room for tolerance. If you find a condo where nothing is allowed--no parties, no pets, no visitors, no music--it sounds like a condo you should avoid for many reasons, only one of which would be the piano problem.

There was a thread a few months ago where someone was in the process of buying an acoustic upright - and the Body Corporate intervened after hearing about it - and banned it entirely - even bringing it on the property, let alone playing it. I can't find the thread quickly - but if you've got time to search, it seems the Body Corporate won. Not sure if it was in their by-laws or just a decision of the moment.

So it's worth checking. It would be really frustrating, though, to buy a Condo, then discover that you can't play the piano.

I considered one when I moved here 9 years ago - but then changed my tactic. I looked for a home with the least number of neighbours I could get. I'm opposite a street and back onto "green space" - 100 metres wide between me and a Motorway which will never be built on. So I only have 2 neighbours - and can play all day, and up to 9:00pm.


Alan from Queensland, Australia (and Clara - my Grotrian Concert & Allen Organ (CF-17a)).
Re: Is it crazy to move my Steinway B into a Victorian condo? [Re: Rank Piano Amateur] #2846030
05/07/19 09:18 AM
05/07/19 09:18 AM
Joined: Oct 2009
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Southwest
j&j Online content
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Originally Posted by Rank Piano Amateur


If you find a condo where nothing is allowed--no parties, no pets, no visitors, no music--it sounds like a condo you should avoid for many reasons, only one of which would be the piano problem.

There are condos like that. I believe it’s a cell in San Quentin. 😁


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Re: Is it crazy to move my Steinway B into a Victorian condo? [Re: Bacholater] #2846147
05/07/19 04:22 PM
05/07/19 04:22 PM
Joined: Jan 2010
Posts: 1,173
Queensland, Australia
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Alan from Queensland, Australia (and Clara - my Grotrian Concert & Allen Organ (CF-17a)).
Re: Is it crazy to move my Steinway B into a Victorian condo? [Re: Bacholater] #2846165
05/07/19 04:55 PM
05/07/19 04:55 PM
Joined: May 2006
Posts: 243
Santa Rosa, CA
FormerlyFlute Offline
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FormerlyFlute  Offline
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Santa Rosa, CA
I moved into a 10 year old condo with fair, but not excellent insulation. I installed soundproofing casters, and a silent system on my 6'2" acoustic piano. I play poorly between 10 am and 6 pm and nobody complains.


Piano: Brodmann PE 187 Strauss
Flute: Sankyo CF-201 with RT2 headjoint
Re: Is it crazy to move my Steinway B into a Victorian condo? [Re: Bacholater] #2846170
05/07/19 05:02 PM
05/07/19 05:02 PM
Joined: Jan 2017
Posts: 112
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edferris Online content
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In Victorian times, movers took the sash out of a window on each floor and moved the furniture in through those openings. I've never heard of a modern mover knowing enough to do that -- they would rather knock pieces off your newel post and dent your plaster walls.

Re: Is it crazy to move my Steinway B into a Victorian condo? [Re: Bacholater] #2846222
05/07/19 08:04 PM
05/07/19 08:04 PM
Joined: Apr 2003
Posts: 12
California
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Bacholater Offline OP
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Bacholater  Offline OP
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California
Thank you all for the advice - super helpful!

P.S. My tuner - who is based in SF - actually doesn't think it is an insurmountable issue. He suggested that I find a corner unit or top floor to minimize the impact, and manage/improve the sound/insulation.

Re: Is it crazy to move my Steinway B into a Victorian condo? [Re: Bacholater] #2846354
05/08/19 09:10 AM
05/08/19 09:10 AM
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Not to throw cold water on your plans, but moving into the top floor of a condo building could be a mistake. When the roof leaks, it can be a real hassle to get the Association to pay the money required to fix it and repair the damage. Being on the bottom floor can be a problem too, if it's ground level, because when the sewer backs up, you will get the sewage floods, and getting the Association to pay the money to fix the problem and repair the damage can be a real hassle.

I speak from experience on this one. Alas.

Re: Is it crazy to move my Steinway B into a Victorian condo? [Re: Rank Piano Amateur] #2846362
05/08/19 09:34 AM
05/08/19 09:34 AM
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LarryK Online content
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Originally Posted by Rank Piano Amateur
Not to throw cold water on your plans, but moving into the top floor of a condo building could be a mistake. When the roof leaks, it can be a real hassle to get the Association to pay the money required to fix it and repair the damage. Being on the bottom floor can be a problem too, if it's ground level, because when the sewer backs up, you will get the sewage floods, and getting the Association to pay the money to fix the problem and repair the damage can be a real hassle.

I speak from experience on this one. Alas.


Alas, one must live somewhere. Living on a middle floor means you’ll have someone walking on your head. There are no perfect apartments.

The buyer should definitely do due diligence in finding out when the roof was last replaced and if there are any existing leaks in the unit. I live on a top floor. The roof was replaced not long ago and there is twenty years left on the warranty. Mine is the warmest unit in the building, I never have to turn on a radiator. Great in the winter, not so great in the summer. See: there are no perfect apartments.

I live in New York, the land of coops for the most part. I’ve gone back and forth on coop vs condo over my lifetime and have decided that I prefer coops because the board can get the money to maintain the building. The saying goes, in a condo, you gain control of your unit and lose control of the building, in a coop, you gain control of the building and lose control of your unit. To my mind, the upkeep of the building is far more important than the upkeep any one particular unit.

I’ve heard of condo owners not willing to pay anything to fix the roof because they’re on the second floor and they don’t see any leaks, yet!

Last edited by LarryK; 05/08/19 09:35 AM.

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