Plumbing noise | Parties ... and other neighbour noise | Flat Chat Forum: Your Questions Answered




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Plumbing noise
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Fanzango
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15/11/2017 - 8:58 am
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I am the Chairman of a complex of blocks . One owner is complaining about nocturnal plumbing noises. Inter tenancy walls are hollow core Besser blocks plaster lined on both sides. Some plumbing runs vertically through the walls. He has a neighbour's bathroom backing on to his bedroom.

  What is the Owner's Corporation's responsibility concerning the owner's request that we do something about his problem.

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Lady Penelope
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15/11/2017 - 10:48 am
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Common property plumbing is an OC responsibility to repair and maintain.

If the building is old then plumbing issues can arise over time. Perhaps that is the reason for the plumbing noise. Materials used in older buildings may be inferior to newer materials.

I would advise at least having a plumbing inspection. If the pipes are accessible they can be acoustically wrapped with pipe wrap. 

I too have an issue with noisy common property property plumbing pipe works (possibly the sewer line) that runs adjacent to my Lot therefore I empathize with the complainant. The noise is quite disturbing to me.

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Fanzango
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15/11/2017 - 3:32 pm
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Thank you Lady P. --- the building is only 11 years old, is a soundly built Mirvac development and the noisy plumbing runs through a Besser block wall. It would be near impossible to lag the pipes.

  Is this matter something that the SC must fix or does the unlucky owner have to just wear it.

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Lady Penelope
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15/11/2017 - 5:50 pm
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The building design that you are describing does not appear to have much density of material or insulation between the noisy pipe and the complainant. Heavy materials like concrete tend to be the best materials for sound insulation. 

Interior walls that have layers of plasterboard with sound control material in the cavity can be very effective in reducing sound.

Has anyone with a similarly located Lot i.e. one that abuts the pipe work, complained about this in the past? Perhaps it is a new problem? The lower Lots in a building would probably have greater issues than higher Lots. 

If I was you I would first seek the advice of a plumber.

Then .... If there is not a plumbing problem perhaps your Committee can (1) Suggest that the complainant move their bed to another wall if possible; or (2) Have the Committee discuss with the complainant the feasibility and acceptability of the installation of an extra sound barrier on the inside of the common property wall. Perhaps both the OC and the complainant can share the cost? 

NCAT decisions pertaining to Strata Schemes are often searched for in the pre purchase due diligence. If nothing is done about this issue and it ends up becoming rancorous through NCAT it may draw unfavourable attention to this "defect" and dissuade potential purchasers from buying in your building. Is this something that your OC would be prepared to accept?

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fcd
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16/11/2017 - 2:28 pm
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Has something changed recently to cause this disturbance?

  • More people living next door and using the 'plumbing' more often?
  • Next door have an illness that is causing them to use the plumbing more frequently at night?
  • One or both parties are shift-workers or otherwise active when the other/s are sleeping and vice versa?
  • This effected owner is sleeping more lightly due to factors in their own life?

Generally the OC has a responsibility to address excessive disturbances, using anything from Notices to Comply right through to altering some aspect of the Common Property building structure/services.

Generally living in close proximity means you will hear some noise from your neighbours. Zero noise is impossible to achieve. But needing to tolerate 'some' noise doesn't mean any/all noise is reasonable.

So, realistically, how significant is this disturbance? Clearly the owner is highly frustrated, but is that due to the scale of the noise problem, or because they're fed up and have become hyper-sensitive to the noise?

Then, what is a reasonable response for the OC to make? (that will practically address ('fix') the issue, and is within the limits of its authority and responsibilities.)

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