3. Hard flooring | Owners Corporation Network

3. Hard flooring

Since people have to walk around their own apartments, you should be able to demand that their floors are insulated so that you don’t have unwelcome noise every time they do.

Protecting the residents’ enjoyment of their lot should mean that no timber or hard surface flooring is to be installed without proper consideration by the owner's corporation. All proposed hard surface flooring installations must receive written approval prior to commencement of the works; including any conditions imposed by the owners corporation.

You can find great variation in guidelines and by-laws. It is recommended that the owners corporation get an acoustic test to determine the noise characteristics of the floor/ceilings in the building. This is so that potential renovators have an understanding as to what they may need to do to meet requirements.

“And finally, I attach a table from our original successful anti-timber litigant which shows that NO timber floor provides the same sound insulation as carpet on a quality underlay. That could be the basis for justifying any by-law you may plan to propose. By the way, the higher the figure the worse the noise transmission and it’s worth noting that a polished concrete slab doesn’t even meet the minimum BSA standards.”Jimmy Thomson, Flat chat


Common Guidelines to use when selecting the proper IIC rating for your space:

IIC 50 – The least amount of impact sound transmission reduction considered effective. Some occupants would be dissatisfied with this level of sound transmission.
IIC 60 – Considered a medium level of impact sound transmission reduction.
IIC 65 – Considered a high level of impact sound transmission reduction that would satisfy most occupants

Depending upon the construction of the building, the use of floating floors and acoustic underlays may provide the necessary insulation. Be aware however, that the documentation of the performance of various underlay may assume a dropped ceiling. If your building ceilings are not dropped (i.e. they are a basic concrete slab) you will not get anywhere near the proposed performance.

If a by-law is required to regulate what kind of flooring can be installed on the floors of lots, get advice very early on. It is much more difficult to fix a problem once it has arisen than to prevent the problem from occurring in the first place. Remember, that even if a by-law as to flooring is complied with, there may still be noise. 

Works Guidelines

All apartments in Example Tower were originally designed and built with carpet as the standard floor covering. There is a concrete slab with no suspended ceiling above and below apartments. This design means that under By-Law 14 carpet is the preferred floor covering for all rooms except kitchens, bathrooms and toilets to ensure the ‘peaceful enjoyment of the owner or occupier of another lot’. Hard floor covering (tiles, floating wooden floors, parquet etc) are only permitted in the lounge/living areas of your apartment as long as they do not interfere with the ‘peaceful enjoyment of the owner or occupier of another lot’ (see By-Law 14). Hard floors will not be approved for bedroom areas due to noise transmission at night. The Executive Committee has assembled a number of installation methods for hard flooring that may meet this requirement. Copies are available from the Building Manager.

You may only install hard flooring in such areas if you agree:

i)     after installation is complete, to allow the Owners Corporation to conduct an acoustic isolation test between your apartment and the one directly beneath you;

ii)   to pay all costs associated with the test which is to be conducted by an accredited member of the Association of Australian Acoustical Consultants;

iii)should the test indicate an acoustic isolation worse that the standard (6 star rating) to pay for the complete removal of the hard floor and installation of carpet or a satisfactorily insulated hard floor;

iv)  should it become apparent that the hard flooring interferes in any other way with the 'peaceful enjoyment of any other lot', to pay for the complete removal of the hard floor and installation of carpet or a satisfactorily insulated hard floor.

Tiles and other hard flooring materials may be laid in kitchens and bathroom. However, in the case of bathrooms, due to the possible compromise of water proofing membranes, details the replacement material and the manner of replacement must first be assessed by the Executive Committee.

I the undersigned hereby warrant that I have read the GUIDELINES FOR BUILDING WORKS (February 2009) and agree to comply with all of the conditions and limitations imposed thereby.

OWNER’S SIGNATURE                                                                                                        DATE                          



As the work applied for entails installing hard flooring surfaces other than in a kitchen, bathroom or toilet, I hereby warrant that, after the new floor is installed, I shall pay for acoustic testing and will remove the hard floor and re-install carpet if it is found to provide inadequate acoustic installation.

OWNER’S SIGNATURE                                                                                                        DATE