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Flat Chat

Fatally flawed floors

Why would anyone imagine that they have the right to deny peace and quiet to their neighbours? They don't - but the spirit of "I'm all right, Jack" is alive and well, especially when it comes to timber floors.

QUESTION: Two owners in our building have laid 'floating' timber floors to the great distress of their downstairs neighbours. Even so, a proposed by-law banning future hard floor installations was narrowly defeated at our last AGM.

Many owners were swayed by a real estate agent - he lives on the top floor so wouldn't be affected - who suggested that a ban would reduce the value of units in the building.

We plan to table the motion again this year and want to make sure everyone understands the issues and that we get the right wording for the by-law. Any thoughts?

Floored, Sydney

ANSWER: You need a 75 percent vote and your estate agent neighbour could still use scare tactics to defeat a complete ban on wooden floors. You'd be better to establish a by-law with strict conditions under which timber floors can be installed. That way, people can do what they want but still have to act responsibly.

For instance, your by-law could insist that wooden floors have to achieve a five or six star rating, as defined by the Association of Australian Acoustical Consultants (the Basix building standards are just not good enough). You can find out more about the AAAC on

Proper acoustic ratings for floors will enhance the value of the building because they will reassure would-be buyers. I've never heard of prospective purchasers pulling out because they might not be able to lay down wooden floors - but I've seen them run a mile when they hear people stomping around on uninsulated floors above them.

Get an experienced strata lawyer (like Andreones, Goddard and Co or O'Connors) to draft the by-law to make sure it does what you want it to do.

By the way, noise isn't the only insulation issue with wooden floors. You could be wasting money and energy on heating or cooling, just by changing the floor covering.

The Owners Corporation Network is holding a half-day seminar on "greening" apartment blocks next Saturday (April 21). More details on their website

First published SMH April 2007