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Irish Times Property Clinic 20th day of June2024.

 

 

 

Publishing Date; Thursday the 20th day of June 2024.

 

Q I have purchased and just moved into an apartment (built in 2007) and on the ground floor. As I've rented/shared houses or stand alone places for a very long time and have just been here a few weeks, this might seem like a silly question.

 

It is very noisy any time anything to do with water is used -  showers, dishwashers etc, and also upstairs noise when they are using their bathrooms (I can't hear any other noise from other apartments or outside etc at all). I'm just wondering is this par for the course with an apartment or an issue worth pursuing with the management company? Do I have any grounds to pursue?

A. 2007 is not regarded as being a vintage year for quality residential property construction. To this day, not every property is adequately inspected for building regulations compliance. Lacklustre oversight and a heated market in development output contributed to multiple failures.  Thin walls, floors and ceilings can assist in the transmission of even quite low sounds.

The ability to hear sound from outside your property is likely due to the use of poor construction standards and your OMC should investigate this with a suitably qualified person.

Water facilities in apartment blocks egress from apartments into service shafts that run internally, whereas in houses they drain externally. This means that the activities of other properties can be more easily heard as waterpipe services are closer to the habitable rooms.  Many service shafts remain as a uniform hollow structure housing pipework running the height of a building without compartmentation or collaring at each storey. Disregarding the fire effectiveness of missing compartmentation between floors that barrier heat and smoke transfer, their inclusion can also dampen sound. Where there are no barriers in these service shafts, sound can reverberate.

 

It is of course an option to revert to your owners’ management company (OMC) to seek clarification on any matter relating to your development.

A sound level meter can be used to measure noise, there are also mobile phone apps that will do the same. This information, if you wish to engage with the OMC or the above owner, will assist you in your position.

House rules are drafted in a development to provide a rule book of sorts for occupancy of the development, these rules are simplified interpretations of the Lease covenants binding the OMC and its members.

 

House Rules would often require that there is no audible noise outside of a property from late at night to early morning.

You could pursue compliance of the Lease and House Rules with the OMC. The likely outcome would be a deterioration in the relationship between you, the OMC and your neighbour as well as the associated costs for arguing your case without a resolution. The same time and cost could be spent insulating your rooms worst affected by noise resulting in a successful resolution to your concern and a continued positive relationship with your OMC and neighbour.

Paul Huberman FSCSI FRICS is a chartered property and facilities manager, and a Fellow of the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland and the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors. 

Author: Paul Huberman of H&H Property Management Consultants Ltd

Publish Date: 20/06/2024

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