Home Renovation & Noise Complaints

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Expert Opinion piece – Stephen Raff, CEO of Ace Body Corporate Management.


June, 2017
By Stephen Raff

Unit owners are fed up, and it may have something to do with their neighbours’ TV watching habits. At Ace, we’ve become aware of the fact that the sound of hammers and power tools have overtaken loud parties as the new noise complaint in strata communities, thanks to a DIY craze sweeping the nation. Fresh off seeing the latest bathroom makeovers and kitchen facelifts on popular home renovating shows, DIY savvy apartment owners are acting on their inspiration, often before consultation with other owners.

And before it sparks up an ugly dispute in your community, we’re urging owners to read up on what to do, before picking up a tool. It can be very tempting to start planning your renovation straight away, after getting the inspiration from a great project on TV, but it’s important to pump the brakes, and take stock of your surroundings.

Living in an apartment or unit means sharing walls, ceilings and floors with your neighbours, so the addition of an unapproved renovation can quickly cause arguments.
These rules govern the use of common property and outline what is and isn’t allowed when it comes to renovations. Some buildings won’t allow floorboards because of noise concerns, while others may have regulations that govern the insulation and hours of work. These are all questions that can be answered by a strata committee in consultation with the strata manager to identify any potential issues and also to look through strata by-laws for any previous renovations carried out on the property.

It is vital that the strata community’s plan of subdivision is viewed during this period to determine exactly what belongs to the individual and what belongs to the strata community. If the plan of subdivision remains unclear then the owner should first consult with other owners, the strata manager and possibly seek legal opinion before making any alterations. Without specific permission, you’re only able to do things that don’t affect the common property, but that’s not to say you can’t achieve some brilliant things with what you’re entitled to change.

Quite often, issues can arise with owners who are new to strata living.
Many people new to apartment living are coming from a house where they could do whatever they want, but living in a strata community does not work that way. Prospective renovators need to be clear about what is and is not common property. It’s important to remember that for works requiring approval you will need to obtain permission from the strata community.

You will need to provide specific details about the planned renovations to the strata community committee and/or strata manager and it’s important to provide as much information as possible, including, the type of works and how they will affect common property, the duration of the renovations and how common areas will be used during the renovations.

Some issues include noise and whether or not you need permission to have a skip on site. Generally, you’ll be held liable for any damage to common property that occurs during the work. The strata community may also attach certain conditions to the approval, such as times when work can be done and specific building materials that must be used. In case any problems or disputes arise in future it’s important that you get the permission from the strata community in writing.

At the bottom of this issue, and many others is one fundamental thing, it pays to be a good neighbour.Communication with others in your scheme is vital for renovations in strata, keep the other residents informed about the progress of your plans and give them plenty of notice as to when any work will commence.
Everyone is entitled to the peaceful enjoyment of their home and even the best managed strata community can be brought to their knees by bickering neighbours.

Ace Body Corporate Management
This article is not intended to be personal advice and you should not rely on it as a substitute for any form of advice.Ace Body Corporate Management offers this newsletter to clients to assist in updating them on company and industry news. The content within this newsletter is of a generic nature and may not be applicable to all owners corporations. Ace Body Corporate Management attempts to provide the most up-to-date and accurate information for our clients, however we strongly recommend that individuals and committees seek further advice before acting on any information in this newsletter.