September 5, 2013

The Willits is the most luxurious condominium development in Southeastern Michigan. Located in Birmingham, an upscale suburb northwest of Detroit, the Willits offers a wide range of amenities including "round the clock" concierge service, a spa and work out facility with a swim/exercise pool and heated parking garage. The "in-town" location provides close proximity to fine dining, shopping, and entertainment.

Robertson Brothers Company of Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, developed the 58-unit project, in partnership with the Palladium Group of New York. Robertson Brothers in a major developer in southeastern Michigan specializing in high quality, luxury residences. Victor Saroki & Associates of Birmingham was the architectural firm selected for the project. Walbridge Aldinger of Detroit is the general contractor for the Willits.

In order to achieve success in a competitive metropolitan market, it was essential that the units offer the proper balance of amenities, space and appearance. The target market was potential buyers who preferred living in town but wanted the space and serenity of a single-family residence.

Paul C. Robertson, Jr., President of Robertson Brothers, positioned the project for success. A wide range of prices and floor plans were included to suit a large number of buyers. Condominium prices ranged from the high $400,000 for 1,549 square feet to $3 million for 2-level penthouses with over 4,400 square feet. Gourmet kitchens, spacious terraces, mezzanines and balconies with city views and French style casement windows are among the amenities included to attract buyers.

Buyers of luxury residences such as these tend to favor hard surfaces such as ceramic or stone tile and hardwood. Most completed units incorporate both hardwood and tile floors. Careful planning during the design phase was necessary to insure that units with hard surface floors would not generate excessive floor to floor noise levels.

A variety of building elements affect floor to floor sound transmission. Structure borne sound arises from impacts and vibrations transmitted to the building structure. The initial design of the Willits addressed this issue and eliminated excess noise. Impact noise results from vibrations due to a direct impact or mechanical contact on floors. Walking, moving furniture, dropping items are common cases of impact noise.

The vibrations created by striking hard surface flooring travels along and through the surface and can be heard in the rooms below the source. Since such noise can be annoying, it should be minimized. Reducing impact noise is difficult and significant reduction generally involves a combination of products in a floor/ceiling assemble.

The floor/ceiling assemblies at the Willits provided good sound insulation and reflect planning by the developer's team. The assembly included resiliently attached 5/8-inch gypsum board ceilings, fiberglass insulation and structural steel with 6 inches of concrete poured on the decks.

Mike DiGiovanni, President of United Tile & Stone Works, researched acoustical underlayments and determined that NobleSeal® SIS would be ideal. SIS is a thin sheet membrane that reduces floor to floor impact noise. DiGiovanni also found that NobleSeal SIS could be installed to provide waterproofing, an important feature for wet areas like kitchens and bathrooms. NobleSeal SIS also isolates the flooring surface from the subfloor to protect thin-set tile and stone from cracking.

Since SIS is only 3/64-inch thick, transitional between different flooring surfaces did not create problems associated with height differences. The combination of NobleSeal SIS and other building elements reduced the impact noise to appropriate levels for the luxury residences.

Because the installation process for SIS is similar to sheet vinyl, DiGiovanni employed a vinyl installer for the project. Installers for the tile and hardwood were impressed with the ease of installation.

According to Malcolm Murray, Robertson Brothers' Project Manager for the Willits, sales have been excellent and less than 10 units remain. A reputation for quality earned during their 57-year history, and providing consumers with what they wanted were key elements to the success.

NobleSeal® SIS is a patented product of The Noble Company. For more information about NobleSeal® SIS or other sheet membranes produced by The Noble Company, visit or call (800) 878-5788.