Updating floor coverings in your apartment? How to avoid conflict with your neighbours and strata committee

150 150 Rob Brown

Apartment owners and strata committees considering laying down hard flooring have been advised to ignore National Construction Code (formerly BCA) standards and instead look to AAAC ratings.

A recent Flat Chat column in the Australia Financial Review and on the Flat Chat website told readers that “hard floors come with a raft of potential points of conflict between you, your neighbours and your strata committee.”

“If you remove the most effective form of sound insulation – good carpet on top of quality underlay – and replace it with something that’s certain to be less effective, you are entering a world of potential acoustic strife,” author Jimmy Thomson told his readers.

“This is exacerbated by the cheap flooring alternatives on the market and the advice you get from some salespeople which can range from wilfully irresponsible to well-intentioned ignorance.”

He added that if apartment floors have been built to minimum NCC standards and owners install cheap flooring with negligible underlay, they are likely to get complaints that could end up in a state tribunal with neighbours and strata committees seeking orders compelling the owners to rip up the floor or re-install carpet.

“Unfortunately, many strata committees go by the NCC standards for permitted noise transfer which are 62dB of impact noise and 50dB of airborne noise,” writes Thomson.

“These levels are woefully inadequate for the way we live now and barely meet the very lowest standards calculated by the Association of Australasian Acoustical Consultants (AAAC).”

“A smart owners corporation will use those AAAC standards as the basis for a flooring by-law to avoid any arguments.”

You can download the AAAC’s guide for acoustic ratings in apartments and townhouses at www.aaac.org.au 

And you can read the article “Flawed thinking in Hard Flooring” in full on that link.

Jimmy Thomson edits the Flat Chat website and hosts the Flat Chat Wrap podcast.