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I bought a “luxury” apartment in a new multi-level complex of less than 30 units in WA. About 1/3 of the owners are distressed by the level of footfall noise from apartments above, with hard floors (timber on acoustic underlay and stone tiles, presumably direct onto the concrete floor). The floors are concrete and have suspended gyprock ceilings below.
Some owners raised concerns immediately they moved in and the developer did some tests which showed the noise levels meet the worthless BCA requirements. BCA only requires a 2-star floor rating. Many owners had sought and been given assurances by the developer that they would not hear these sorts of noises (unfortunately only verbal).
Several other owners have subsequently come forward and expressed similar dissatisfaction. The noise from people simply walking around is sometimes loud enough to wake people at night and is generally extremely annoying. It is not one of those “apartment things” that one gets accustomed to.
The owners have now obtained the acoustic consultant’s report and drawings that were approved by the local town council for the building permit. These specified that acoustic insulation must be installed in ceilings. It is also specified in all the drawings. However no insulation has been actually been installed. The acoustic report also recommends that flexible mounts should be used for the furring channels on ceilings and walls. These have also not been installed. The developer’s glossy advertising brochures proudly claim “Insulation to ceiling space, internal and external walls for increased acoustic and thermal performance”. The contractor that installed the ceilings has provided a “Compliance Certificate Building Act 2011” which stated that the “..internal ceilings and walls insulation works comply with the approved design and BCA and Australian Standards”. All the drawings are certified by an independent certifier.
The approving town council is not willing to do anything about it. The so-called independent certifier just repeats whatever the builder tells him to – “it complies with BCA”. The builder and developer have offered no explanation as to why the insulation was omitted and so far won’t do anything about it. They claim it won’t eliminate the noise (but wont provide any professional advice to back that up). We accept that it may not eliminate the noise, but we also know that will reduce it. We want them to rip out the ceilings in at least one apartment and to do the job they way it should have been done, and if there is a demonstrable improvement, then to do it in all affected apartments. It would have cost the builder about $2,000 per apartment to install insulation and flexible mountings at the construction stage. To retro-fit is more like $40,000 and major disruption.
What I’ve learnt from this:
BCA impact noise standards are worthless. That’s nothing new for this forum, but why has nothing been done about it?
The developer’s advertising material was false – you cannot trust even the most reputable developer.
The ceiling installer provided a false declaration.
The s0-called independent certifier is paid by the builder, so he has a conflict of interest and his integrity is compromised. Certifiers appear to be nothing more than rubber-stampers.
I now understand how new buildings like the ones in Sydney can be built and condemned with massive defects! No-one is checking anything. The government system of regulations and enforcement of those regulations is flawed if it can allow this sort of thing to happen.
Never buy an apartment off-plan. Until you can walk around in an apartment and assess the noise yourself, stay away!
Apart from the above noise issues, there are a range of other issues of negligence and incompetence that I can relate (maybe in another post!). In 90% of them I find that the problem comes down to the builder not building according to the approved drawing – taking short cuts, leaving things out, changing things without reference to the designer etc.
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