Noise can be one of the most contentious issues in a shared community, but what many forget is that in multi-storey units creating or minimising sound can extend right through to the flooring you choose and the underlay you select.

Here’s a quick guide on laying flooring to ensure the residents beneath can’t hear every pin you drop and step you take, because if they can there may be costly repercussions…

Hard flooring, timber and tiles

Yes they’re maintenance free, look great and can be a real feature piece when it comes to renovating, but hard flooring has a tendency to carry noise from the floor into the unit below.

That doesn’t mean they’re out of bounds, but you should check with the body corporate first, discuss your proposed renovations with the committee, and take any appropriate measure to minimise sound.

Underlay

The type of underlay you select can have a major effect on minimising noise transfer. The best underlay is designed to muffle, if not eliminate, sounds such as moving chairs in and out from a table, walking in hard sole shoes such as high heels, or even everyday noise like talking, music and the television.

By laws

A body corporate may have by-laws which specifically address the required use of appropriately-rated underlay, with some buildings more prone to noise transfer than others. This makes it imperative to check with your body corporate manager or committee before you go laying tiles and other hard flooring.

Even if the by-laws don’t specifically relate to underlay, failure to mitigate sound through appropriate underlay could see you fall foul of other regulations like noise and nuisance by-laws, both of which can be applied to noise transfer between floors.

Australian standard

Ordinary old Masonite underlay will not suffice in a multi-storey environment so chat at length with your flooring supplier to find a solution to suit your conditions. There are Australian standards for this type of product, and your flooring supplier should be able to provide suitable underlay to meet your needs (and those of the people peacefully residing below).

Repercussions

Failing to consult with the body corporate and take the necessary sound proofing measures can have costly consequences. In Queensland there have been cases where unit owners have installed flooring like tiles and then subsequently been taken to court over resulting noise. The upshot was a court order to pull up all the tiles and then install appropriate underlay. This is a huge financial impost, more than doubling the initial cost of installing tiles in the first place.

And that’s not to mention the lost goodwill between residents sharing the same address.

Check before buying

It’s also worthwhile to bear issues like this in mind when purchasing a unit. If you’re buying a unit with hard flooring installed, investigate whether there have been any problems with noise transfer in the past. And if you’re looking at a property with units above, spend some time there to work out exactly what you can hear from on high.

The final word

The bottom line is living in a shared community like strata title residences involves neighbourly consideration, and a little forethought in any renovation goes a long way.

When it comes to hard flooring, discuss your ideas with the committee, invest in suitable underlay, and then enjoy your space in the knowledge no one else can hear your every move.

At Select Body Corporate Managers we bring unique, reliable and personalised expertise to the field of property maintenance.

To learn more about the services we offer, see here.