It was my dream apartment. In a funky area of the inner-west, north-facing, two huge bedrooms and an open plan living area, with a cute Juliet balcony overlooking a smattering of trees.
What sounds like heaven was anything but. The noise problems within the building ultimately rendered the apartment unliveable.
Two days after moving in, I was on the phone to a friend who asked why I was rattling pots and pans while talking to him. I was sitting on the sofa at the time.
No, that’s the woman next door cooking, I told him. I could hear her farting yesterday. I wasn’t kidding.
That was one neighbour. The other was the Ricky Martin freak who, after her regular clubbing escapades, would arrive home at 5am and shake the block to the sounds of the Latino wonder. The vibrations from her stereo rattled windows and light bulbs.
The thing was, these neighbours were really nice people. The sound insulation of the 1970s building, however, made living together for all of us a real challenge.
The body corporate looked into numerous solutions, the most common suggestion was to have all our apartments relined with new floors, walls and ceilings, effectively creating sound-proof rooms within every room. The expense was extraordinary, as was the hassle for a place I had just moved into.
Eight months later, deciding it was cheaper to get out and buy somewhere else, I moved on.
This time, however, the sound engineers were called in to give the place a sound level rating. It was the best $500 spent on the purchase, and gave me peace of mind that I was not moving into another noise control disaster.
With the constant innovations in home entertainment sound systems, the issue of noise between apartments has become a priority for many apartment-dwellers.
According to the Australian Greenhouse Office, noise complaints within medium and high-density housing is on the dramatic increase.
The office’s online site -“ www.greenhouse.gov.au – is clear in its warnings and recommendations. It can be very difficult or expensive to do anything about a noise nuisance after a house is built or purchased. Consider potential noise problems before you buy, build or renovate.
Ask for design specifications for noise levels before buying a multi residential unit and ask your solicitor to link them to your contract as a performance measure. This will give you more options if you discover a problem after moving in.
But most importantly, the site also warns that the section of the Building Code of Australia (BCA) covering indoor noise transmission regulations for shared walls and floors is being revised and improved to finally take into account the levels of sound emissions from new home entertainment systems.
The response from many, if they can be heard above the noise from the farting, pot-shaking, Ricky Martin-loving next door neighbour, is, Not before time!