Why your body corporate needs a hard floor replacement policy
Updated: Nov 19, 2021
The trend to tear up apartment carpet and replace it with timber and tile flooring can be a headache for downstairs residents and owners corporations.
As the renovation boom unfolds in Australia, owners corporations are beginning to ask the question: what does this mean for our buildings overall?
A common renovation choice is to revamp flooring. Today, hard floors are fashionable. As part of renovations, many older buildings are retrofit with flooring options like timber, tiled or polished concrete to improve resale value.
But without carpet, older buildings often fall short of the requirements for noise and vibration between apartment floors.
Carpet is excellent for absorbing footfall noise and reducing noise impacts on downstairs apartments. Replacing carpet with hard floors can bring a significant increase in noise impacts for neighbours. In some circumstances, renovations can result in apartments being non-compliant with the National Construction Code. In the worst-case scenario, a renovation may trigger civil legal challenges by neighbouring residents due to a perceived loss of amenity if noise impacts aren’t addressed.
It may seem straightforward to replace a floor covering, and add some noise insulation, but it can fast become very complex. Renzo Tonin & Associates’ Victorian Office Manager, Nicholas Peters, elaborates:
“There are a lot of installation pitfalls that can lead to non-compliance with noise standards. Guiding residents to avoid these from the get-go saves a lot of headaches later.”
“A classic installation fail is using the wrong glue or adhesive – a wrong choice here can solidify the underlay and completely strip it of any sound insulation benefits.”
“We’ve also seen people who have nailed timber boards to the substrate, which also completely bypasses any noise isolation benefits provided by the underlay.”
Hard floor replacement policies can help guide residents towards using appropriate materials and installation methods to meet amenity goals and ensure the building remains compliant with noise isolation standards. These policies also help manage resident expectations around renovations as well as amenity and reduce the likelihood of civil disputes.
These policies can include:
minimum specifications for new flooring installations, including material choice and installation requirements
pre- and post-construction floor impact test requirements
commentary on amenity outcomes with respect to relevant guidelines such as the Association of Australasian Acoustical Consultants Guideline for Apartment and Townhouse Acoustic Rating (AAAC Guideline).
Renzo Tonin & Associates has significant experience developing floor replacement policies for owners corporations. If your apartment’s owners corporation does not have a hard floor replacement policy, and you are concerned about the results of floor covering replacement, it would be our pleasure to provide guidance. Please contact our team today for more information.