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  • #56332
    OldHat
    Flatchatter

    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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  • #56350
    Jimmy-T
    Keymaster

    BCA impact noise standards are worthless. That’s nothing new for this forum, but why has nothing been done about it?

    Because the building industry says it would cost too much and inhibit the construction of new homes.

    The developer’s advertising material was false – you cannot trust even the most reputable developer.

    Reputable developers have reputations they need to protect.  Get a newspaper or TV consumer show to run a story and to do that you may have to launch a legal challenge.

    The ceiling installer provided a false declaration.

    Again, take them to court

    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.

    That’s why NSW appointed Building Commissioner David Chandler

    You could make a complaint to the WA Ombudsman. 

    You could contact the Australian Apartment Advocacy, a WA-based apartment resident support organisation, headed by Sam Reece who reckons she has politicians sitting up and taking notice (although their reference to “apartment livers” on the front page of their website suggests grammar isn’t their strong point).

    Or contact Madeleine De Jong, Community Campaigner at Office of Senator Jordon Steele-John . I have no idea if she’d be interested but, hey, if you call yourself a community campaigner, you should expect all sorts of issues to come your way.

    Good luck.
     

    #56368
    OldHat
    Flatchatter
    Chat-starter

    Many thanks for that, I think we’ll be heading to the building commission as the next step…

    The builder’s excuse that it costs to much is not an acceptable excuse, and I’m not convinced its even valid. I’ve talked to other apartment owners and there are many that say they have no issue, even with hard floors. I’ve been in new show apartments with ceramic tile floors where I’ve literally run around and jumped up and down whilst my wife has listened out in the one below.  Normal walking was not at all audible and running and jumping was faintly audible. If the argument is that’s its too expensive then the answer is to use carpets, that would be a whole lot better than building something that immediately destroys the ability to enjoy your apartment and puts you at risk of being taken to task by people below demanding your floor must be treated to stop noise.

    PS – thanks for all the good information in this forum.

    #56373
    Jimmy-T
    Keymaster

    There are three basic elements in the transmission of noise from floor to ceiling.  One is the construction of the floor – the thickness and density of the slab – then there’s the insulation above the floor and above the ceiling, then there’s the behaviour of the people in the upper apartment.

    The density and construction of the slab is often overlooked but it can explain why apartments within the same blocks – let alone different buildings –  can differ wildly.

    Your strongest case in this is probably that the builder has sold apartments on one basis than decided not to provide the build to the specifications promised.

    You best tactic, if you get nowhere with Fair Trading or the Building Commissioner, may be to expose them in the media (who right now love stories about dodgy developers and apartment owners who have been ripped off).

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