Noise disputes among condo owners can be one of the most troublesome problems for Board of Directors and Property Managers. Not only can they be expensive to resolve, they cause unrest and bad feelings. However, if the BOD's acts quickly and assertively, it may be able to improve the current situation and keep the corporation out of court.
Noise issues often involve an owner's complaint of noise coming from the unit above. This is typically due to improperly installed flooring, or lack of a proper sound control product installed underneath the floor. It's typical to see the same set of facts repeatedly. A new unit owner decides to replace the existing flooring and opted for installing hardwood or laminate flooring. The typical complaints are owners can hear furniture moving, footsteps, kids running or objects dropping. Once the manager is aware of the noise problem, is when a complaint is made by the owner of the unit below to the owner of the unit above.
Far to often, flooring contractors and owners will go out and purchase an inexpensive product claiming to have a rating of IIC 70 or higher. Upon quick review its easily determined these products are in fact bogus and nowhere near the advertised sound rating. Simply put, these products were all tested with a concrete slab along with a built ceiling assembly or suspended ceiling attached to it.
FACT: 99.9% of Condominiums in the GTA do not have suspended ceiling's, they are typically built of 8" concrete slabs alone. By adding a ceiling during testing (often filled with insulation) dramatically increases the impact sound rating of the product. Realistically these products barely meet a rating of IIC 55, which is a far cry from the advertised IIC 70 considered to be virtually soundproof by todays standards.
Its estimated decision makers of properties approve over 20, 000,000 square feet of these bogus products every year. Is there really any question to why noise complaints are skyrocketing?
"Listen, if you didn't know you were being scammed, you're too dumb to keep this job. If you did know you were in on it. Either way, you're out!"
~ Sam (Ace) Rothstein, Casino
Here are a few provisions you may want to have added to your property's provisions.
The first one prohibits hard-surface floors unless approved by the property manager and board of directors. Any change must provide sound insulation of RHINO Sound Control FIIC 70. (Field Tested over 8" Concrete Slab, without a ceiling assembly)
1. Floor Coverings
No change in the floor covering materials as originally installed in the units shall be permitted except with the consent of the property management and board of directors. To reduce sound transmission between units, all units shall have a minimum sound control product installed under the wood or laminate floor RHINO Sound Control FIIC 70.
2. Sound Transmission
No unit shall be altered in any manner that would increase sound transmission to any adjoining or other Unit, including, but not limited to, the replacement or modification of any flooring or floor covering or the penetration of any wall, floor or ceiling that increases sound transmission to any other Unit.
All changes to floors separating Units (Hardwood, laminate, tile and stone) must provide FIIC 70 sound control properties for impact sound insulation. In addition, the product's floor/ ceiling assemblies must satisfy the sound control requirements as per the properties building structure. i.e. Only 8" concrete slab.
The impact sound insulation rating of the floor ceiling assemblies after insulation must be Field Impact Insulation Class RHINO Sound Control FIIC 70 or higher.
Setting conditions of approval of a flooring change.
The corporation through property management should impose conditions on this approval. For example, it could require the owner replacing the floor covering provide evidence of RHINO Sound Control FIIC 70 by means of specification sheet and testing documents. Furthermore, proof of purchase in the form of an invoice is often requested by the PM prior to final approval is provided.
Where the "standard" is met, but noise could still be objectionable, the board should reserve the right to require owners to use area rugs or runners to mitigate the sound transmission.
The fact is, noise issues are subjective and no two owners will perceive them alike.
Do you have a noise complaint story to share? Let us know in the comments below, and you could get 10% off your next RHINO Sound Control order!