There’s no denying the growth of dense city living for young families with children. They make up 25% of the Sydney apartment market, and the ever expanding development of high-rise and compact housing is palpable in big growth areas. However, does growth mean improved quality of life? Well, if you have young children and are trying to live in this type of housing, probably not.
According to recent data from the Owners Corporation Network in Noise in Strata Buildings, noise complaints are the ‘fastest growing area of complaint and disputes’, and apartment occupants are bearing the brunt of exacerbated noise. According to academic news and opinion source, The Conversation, buildings are ill-equipped to deal with the acoustics of a changing demographic in vertical housing.
The stress, guilt and even shame of attempting to keep a household quiet, particularly for parents with very young children, is higher in those living in apartments than those living in detached housing. The OCN report reveals that although noise complaints do still run high in suburban areas, the level of noise is significantly lower and the health of occupants is not at as much risk.
In fact, some parents are facing fines of over $500 for noise complaints against crying infants. Janin Mayer, from Vaucluse, faced the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal after being slammed with a $550 fine for complaints against her then-19-month-old; while residents of a Lane Cove apartment building were hit with a fine of the same amount for ‘breaching strata by-laws’ relating to noise from children in the building.
According to the OCN, it’s not just risking the health of those constantly attempting to muffle the noise, it's also risking the health of those dealing with the noise itself - including families with kids. ‘Exposure to noise has been linked to sleep deprivation, annoyance and health issues such as hypertension and heart disease,’ states the report. ‘Apartment or unit living is difficult enough and with excessive noise penetrating through windows, floors, ceilings, walls, doors and even through water pipes the experience can be extremely unpleasant.’
The long-term effect of vertical and horizontal dense living is not yet known due to the swift trajectory of tight living quarters - catapulted by population growth, fears of venturing too far from the CBD and existing detached home prices skyrocketing. However, with the continued expansion of public transport lines, affordable new home builds, knockdown rebuild options and house and land packages, there is a steady increase in Australians seeking alternative living arrangements with new home builds in urban and regional areas.