If people live in stand-alone residences on a decent block of land, the residential noise problems tend to be minor. The odd 21st or New Year’s Eve party with loud music until 4 am can be suffered, joined or the police called to give a Noise Abatement Direction after midnight. Noisy air conditioning systems and pool pumps can be reported to the local Council, who have the power to issue Noise Control Notices.
Negotiated Settlement of Noise Problems
It should be remembered that reporting a matter to the authorities can cause lasting ill-will between neighbours. Much better to fix the problem in consultation with your neighbour, even if it costs you some dollars. “Turning the other cheek” is a good starting point for neighbourhood problems, then negotiating a peaceful solution to the problem is recommended. Under-estimating the seriousness of neighbourhood noise disputes has resulted in unhappiness, relocation and in some cases death. Having one of our acoustical engineers measure the noise and assess its offensiveness in accordance with the NSW Noise Guide for Local Government allows all parties to negotiate from a factual viewpoint.
For people living in apartments, neighbourhood noise can be a more serious problem. Most noise reduces by 6 dBA per doubling of distance, so noise problems are reduced in well-separated housing. Living in a duplex or an apartment block has the advantage of reduced maintenance, but suffers the problem of increased noise problems.
The Building Code of Australia (BCA) is a Commonwealth Government initiative that sets acceptable limits of noise reduction construction between apartments, both for common walls, floor/ceilings and plumbing.
In May 2004, the Building Code of Australia was upgraded to require builders to provide more adequate sound isolation through common walls and floors. The earlier standard was adequate to protect neighbours from the sound of a 5 Watt radio, but the advent of 100 Watt Hi-Fi sound systems in every home required an upgrade in construction. If there is any doubt about the quality of sound isolation between yours and a neighbour’s apartment, our acoustical engineers can bring along a sound system that generates pink noise and measures the degree of isolation and recommend building improvements to overcome a deficiency.
Many domestic noise problems can be fixed. Footfall noise can be reduced by providing a “floating-floor” in the upper apartment or a resiliently-mounted ceiling in the apartment below. Structure-borne impact-noise from a stairway, dishwasher or cutting board can be reduced by vibration-isolating rubber mounts or by adding a resiliently mounted plasterboard skin on the common wall.