Noise Complaints in Existing Apartment Blocks

Noise Complaints in Existing Apartment Blocks

Over the last few years we are noticing a rise in noise complaints in existing apartment blocks. There may be many reasons for this. Noise problems range from airborne noise transmission from voices TVs and music to footfall impact noise caused by high heels on wooden/tiled floors – it is usually the impact noise that is noticed most by the residents if the unit above has changed their floor finish from carpet to wood.

Excessive-Noise

In many cases even if the floor assembly has been designed and constructed to provide adequate airborne isolation, impact noise can still be a major problem. One of the main problems is if works to the floor finish have been undertaken, changing it from carpet to timber. Even if it passes the sound test, the perceivable rise in impact noise often leads to complaints, as carpet and underlay normally provides a good degree of impact sound isolation. Taking this into account it’s very important that impact isolation design, is taken into account before the installation of a hardwood and/or ceramic tile finish.

If you think you may have a problem with sound in your dwelling and/or you have encountered complaints from a neighbour due to changes you have made to the floor finish then please contact us now. Try to describe the noise problem in as much detail as possible. Describe the nature of the sounds, when and where you or your neighbour can hear it. Is it impact noise or airborne noise or a combination of both? The more information you can provide us, the quicker we can try to determine the nature of the problem and find a solution. It may be as simple as the installation of an acoustic resilient membrane to the floor.

Acoustic_Site_Survey

In our experience, if careful consideration is shown to the acoustic element of the floor upgrade, it should reduce the chance of complaints at a later stage, which will also avert costly legal battles at the end of the project and which often leads on to expensive remedial works.

We can come in prior to works commence and undertake a sample sound test of the existing floor partition, thereafter we can advise on the acoustic design of the floor. once the works have been completed we can then undertake a final precompletion sound test to show compliance with Building Regulations Part E.

If you are about to make changes to your apartment floor, and you require acoustic design advice, then please contact us now at: info@aptsoundtesting.co.uk  or phone me directly on 07775623464.

Sample Sound Testing

SAMPLE SOUND TESTING 

Sample sound testing is the cornerstone of acoustic design when it comes to the conversion of commercial buildings into residential developments. We can undertake sample sound testing to the existing buildings walls and floors to check the sound insulation performance of the existing dividing partitions. Thereafter, once the sound levels have been established and targeted acoustic design can be undertaken to ensure compliance with Building Regulations Part E.

Sound_Testing_Flats

We offer a proactive approach to acoustic design, onsite construction checks and sound testing. This ensures your company receives professional advice every step of the way, with an on-going continual consideration of cost. Our main acoustic services consist of the following.

Sample Sound Insulation Testing

We undertake sample sound testing to identify the sound levels for the existing partitions. Thereafter a more targeted acoustic design can be undertaken to the partitions saving time and money through the construction process.

Sample_Sound__Testing

Acoustic Consultancy  

We have considerable experience in all matters related to architectural acoustic design and detailing. We can help develop the initial acoustic design of the project from the initial design scheme stage, in particular acoustic isolation, and interior acoustics. We also use the latest Norsonic equipment analysers and sound sources for conventional and binaural acoustic measurements.

Site Visits

We offer site visits which allow you (the client) and your contractor to feel confident about the outcome of testing at the end of the build. The site visits let us check that the installation teams are installing the acoustic materials as per manufacturers avoiding crucial onsite mistakes. You can often have a compliant design which still fails due to poor workmanship; the site survey visits negate the risk of sound test failure.

Acoustic_Site_Survey

Precompletion Sound Insulation Testing

We undertake the final precompletion testing to ensure compliance with Building Regulations Part E and achieve building control sign off for the acoustic elements of the project.

If you would like more information in regards to sound testing or acoustic design, please follow our blog at: http://soundtestinguk.blogspot.co.uk/, or contact us at: info@aptsoundtesting.co.uk or Darren on 07775623464, or visit our website at: www.aptsoundtesting.co.uk

Why have I failed my Precompletion Sound Testing

Why have I failed my Precompletion Sound Testing?

There are many reasons why dwellings fail precompletion sound testing. If the onsite construction has gaps, cracks or holes it will conduct airborne sounds and can significantly reduce the sound insulation of a construction. For optimum sound insulation a construction must be airtight. Most small gaps can be sealed at the finishing stage using Gyproc jointing compounds. Small gaps or air paths around perimeter Gypframe framework can be sealed with sealant. At the base of the partition, gaps will occur which can be filled with acoustic mastic.

Sound_Insulation_Testing_Equipment

The most common noise flanking pathways are as follows:

  1. Ceiling Partitions – Above and Through the Ceiling Space (where an adequate acoustic break has not been integrated within the ceiling void)
  2. Floor Partitions – Through Floor and Floor Joist Space (if insulation has not been installed or direct fixing to joists without a drop ceiling below the partition under test)
  3. Shared Structural Building Components – Floor Boards, Floor Joists, Continuous Drywall Partitions, Continuous Concrete Floors, and Cement Block Walls.
  4. Through Structural Steel (structural steel beams are often a major cause of noise transmission as plasterboard is often fixed directly to the steel without sound breaks)
  5. Plumbing Chases – Junctures Between the Walls & Floor Slab Above or at the Exterior Wall Juncture (this should be filed with mortar etc. to add mass to this weakened area)
  6. Through Windows (if they are no double glazed or have secondary glazing as a minimum)
  7. Fixtures & Outlets – Light Switches, Telephone Outlets, and Recessed Lighting Fixtures (if penetrations have been cut back to back with the opposite dwelling under test)
  8. Structural Joints – Perimeter Joints at Wall & Floor, Through Wall & Ceiling Junctures (these should be filled with acoustic mastic)
  9. Around the End of the Partition Through the Adjacent Wall (acoustic mastic should be used to seal this junction)

In many instances we have found that existing floor structures of a minimum of 200mm concrete usually achieve the airborne standard as stipulated by Building Regulations Part; however, the impact results are usually poor due to inadequate acoustic insolation between the floor constructions. This is because the airborne sound is easily broken down by the mass of the concrete slab, therefore sounds such as speech & TV etc. are minimised. Unfortunately, impact sound results are poor due to the lack of isolation within the slab, therefore the sound travels straight through the slab to the area below.

Sound_Insulation_Test_London

To help reduce potential control noise issues APT Sound Testing can undertake an acoustic design review of the floors after sample sound testing to ensure both the airborne and impact sound tests are allowed for during our acoustic design service.

If you would like more information in regards to sound testing please follow our blog at: http://soundtestinguk.blogspot.co.uk or contact us at: info@aptsoundtesting.co.uk and 07775623464 or visit our website at: www.aptsoundtesting.co.uk

 

Good Acoustic Design Detailing

Good Acoustic Design Detailing.

Careful consideration to acoustic design detailing should be used from the offset of the project, whether it’s a new build or conversion project, if the acoustic design is taken into consideration from the offset of the project then it usually results in compliance with Building Regulations Part E.

architect drafting a house blueprint

To help our clients achieve a successful sound test at the first attempt, we offer a full acoustic package which consists of the following elements:

  • Site Survey Visits – to let us view the existing site construction. This allows us to check for potential problematic construction such as inclusion of lightweight blocks in the existing construction. It also lets us check that the installation teams are installing the acoustic materials as per manufacturer’s guidelines.
  • Sample Sound Testing – of the existing construction. This offers an accurate overview of the acoustic performance of the existing partitions which enables us to offer a targeted acoustic design using the sound insulation performance of the existing construction.
  • Acoustic Design Review – a full design review of the proposed developments party walls and floors.

There are many design considerations that need to be accounted for when allowing for your project/s, they are:

  • Avoid the use of lightweight blocks in the inner envelope construction as sound will travel both vertically and horizontally from dwelling to dwelling.
  • The use of resilient suspended ceilings will help improve the performance of the floor partition.
  • Ensure all support steels/timbers are carefully boxed out where they travel from flat to flat vertically and horizontally.
  • Use a high quality resilient acoustic membrane on top of the floor to improve the impact performance of a floor.
  • Ensure all penetrations are fully sealed where they terminate through floors and they are adequately boxed with acoustic quilt and two layers of plasterboard.

If you have a project that’s needs acoustic design advice or sound testing in London, then please contact us at: info@aptsoundtesting.co.uk or phone us directly on 07775623464.

Sound Testing to Office Conversions

Sound Testing to Office Conversions 

When it comes to refurbishment projects such as office block conversions or large houses subdivided into dwellings, we can undertake a sample sound test of the existing wall and floor construction. Once we have established the sound levels for the existing construction we can then look at extent of the acoustic upgrades to attain Part E Compliance. This is much more targeted way to formulate a more cost effective and accurate acoustic  design as we know the sound insulation performance of the existing partitions.

sound testing equipment

The sound insulation levels required to pass Part E are usually 45dB for airborne wall and floors and 62dB for Impact Sound Testing on new build, however sometimes a higher target may be required in-line with the Code for Sustainable Homes; this is usually in defined in the following figures +3, 5 & 8dB, this means if its plus 5dB you will need to achieve 50dB for airborne and 57dB for impact sound testing.  Obviously if you need to comply with the Code for Sustainable Homes then special attention must be shown to the acoustic design from the offset to reduce the chance of sound testing failure.

architect drafting a house blueprint

architect drafting a house blueprint

The amount of sound testing you require depends on the size of the development. All new build properties and conversions require 10% of each party wall/floor construction type to be tested, i.e. if you have built a pair of semi-detached houses you would be required to undertake 2 airborne wall tests. If you have up to 10 flats you would require 1 x 6 pack, consisting of 2 airborne wall, 2 airborne floor & 2 Impact sound tests – known as a 6 pack)  However if you have 11 units this would rise to 12 Sound Tests or 2 x 6 pack. Also, if you have many different wall or floor types you will be required to undertake more tests to satisfy Building Regulations Part E.

There are many ways to improve the chances of passing your sound test at the first attempt, they are:

  • Ensure all penetrations are fully sealed where they terminate through floors and they are adequately boxed with acoustic quilt and two layers of plasterboard.
  • Avoid the use of lightweight blocks in the inner envelope construction as sound will travel both vertically and horizontally from dwelling to dwelling.
  • The use of resilient suspended ceilings will help improve the performance of the floor partition.
  • Ensure all support steels/timbers are carefully boxed out where they travel from flat to flat vertically and horizontally.
  • Use a high quality resilient acoustic membrane on top of the floor to improve the impact performance of a floor.

Due to the overwhelming variety of material designs and combinations due to varying constructions, it is impossible to cover all problems in a short article such as this; however in our experience if the acoustic design is taken into consideration from the offset of the project, then it usually results in a successful sound testing and compliance with Building Regulations Part E.

If you have a project that requires sound testing in London then contact us now, we can propose a sound testing schedule that should comply with Part E. Please contact us at: info@aptsoundtesting.co.uk or call us at 07775623464

Sound Testing on London Developments

Sound Testing on London Developments 

Sound Insulation Testing is undertaken near the end of a project to show that the party wall and floors meet the Building Regulations Part E stipulated. The method for sound testing for airborne and impact sound insulation is in full accordance with the suggested methods presented in BS EN ISO 140-parts 4 & 7: 1998.

Detached houses don’t require sound insulation testing, however if the house has been built on to the end of an existing house and/or terrace it usually requires 2 airborne wall tests, one test on the lower floor which is usually the living room  ad a second test on the 1st floor through the bedroom walls.

sound_transmission_through_floors

Apartment blocks usually require airborne and impact sound insulation tests. Airborne sound testing is normally required between horizontally and vertically separated pairs of rooms i.e. the wall and floor partitions. The sound tests are undertaken by using a sound source, amplifier and loudspeaker to generate a high noise level in one room (the source room). Noise measurements are then taken in both the source and receiver rooms using a prescribed number of source and microphone positions. The background levels in the receiver room are measured and the reverberation time in the receiver room is also measured. From the results, the airborne sound insulation (DnT,w + Ctr) is calculated and compared to the requirements of Approved Document E.

When undertaking sound testing for floors, impact sound testing may also be required for vertically separated dwellings. Impact sound insulation testing is undertaken using a “tapping machine”, which drops a series of weights/small hammers onto the floor of the upper room. The noise level in the lower (receiver) room is measured for a prescribed number of source and microphone locations. The background levels in the receiver room are measured and the reverberation time in the receiver room is also measured. From the results, the impact sound insulation (L’nT,w) is calculated and compared to the requirements of Approved Document E.

Sound_Testing_Flats

If you have a project that requires sound testing in London then contact us now, we can propose a sound testing schedule that should comply with Part E. Please contact us at: info@aptsoundtesting.co.uk or call us at 07775623464

Improving Sound Transmission Through Floor Partitions

Improving Sound Transmission Through Floor Partitions

In our experience, refurbishment projects usually achieve 30-35dB for airborne sound and 70dB for Impact Sound, if the existing construction has not been acoustically upgraded. These figures do not meet the required 43dB & 64dB as stipulated in Part E of Building Regulations. As sound double every 10dB this is a massive failure and acoustic improvements must be made. Many existing construction consist of a similar construction as shown in as detail 1 below.

Detail 1: Existing Floor Partitions Rated At Approx. 30dB

Failed_sound_Testing_Due_to_existing_floor_Construction_

 

Improving Existing Floor Partitions

There are many ways to reduce the airborne and impact sound transmission through floor partitions, this usually means adding density and isolation to the floor construction. This can be as simple as adding 100mm acoustic wool between the floor joists, then adding resilient bars to the bottom of the existing joists. To the bottom of the acoustic bars add 2 layers of 12.5mm soundboard. to the top of the joists install 18mm floorboard, then an acoustic resilient mat. Then the add the final floor finish e.g. 22mm engineered wooden floors – as per detail 2 shown below). If the aforementioned system is installed strictly inline with manufacturers details it should satisfy the sound insulation requirements of Building Regulations Part E.

Detail 2: Acoustic Flooring Partition Upgrade

Good Conversion Diagram - 15-01-16

Taking the above into account is it essential that robust acoustic design is addressed  from the start of the refurbishment project to prevent potential delays with the building handover due to potential sound testing failures. We can offer acoustic design advice, site survey visits,  sample sound testing and precompletion sound testing to help you achieve successful sound testing at the first attempt.

If you would like advice on your acoustic design or require sound insulation testing in London, please contact us now on 07775623464 or contact us at info@aptsoundtesting.co.uk.

 

 

 

How Is Sound Insulation Testing Carried Out?

How Is Sound Insulation Testing Carried Out?

For airborne wall and floor sound tests, two individual speaker positions are used for each source room; with a total of ten individual 1/3 octave band measurements recorded for both the source and receiver rooms. Measurements are then made to monitor the levels in the receiving room of the tested partition in question. This gives a basic level difference between source and receiver rooms.

Sound_Insulation_Testing_Equipment

This basic level difference is then ‘corrected’ to allow for the reverberation time (the time taken, in seconds, for a noise source to decay by 60 dB) and the existing levels of background noise monitored whilst in the receiving room.

All our tests are carried out in full accordance with BS EN ISO 140-1998 parts 4 (airborne sound testing) and 7 (impact sound testing), and the calculation of all single figure results are done so in accordance with BS EN ISO 717:1.

How do I know when my site is ready for testing?

Sound testing is typically conducted when a development nears completion, and once all internal and external doors and windows have been fitted, it is worth noting that no carpets should be installed prior to the sound testing.

To be able to conduct sound insulation testing we a constant supply of 240V power; we cannot use generator power. We also require a quiet site (a noisy site can make conducting the tests extremely difficult), so no drilling, jack hammers etc. should be used whilst the testing is taking place. We also require full access to all rooms to either side of the dividing partition so if it is a requirement to access a neighbour’s property, this must be arranged prior to the test date.

If you require a sound insulation test than contact us know, we will explain what the test entails and send you our informative checklist to help you prepare for the test. It is our mission to ensure our clients pass their testing at the first attempt. We pride ourselves on providing a ‘one stop acoustic solution’ for all your acoustic requirements.

If you would like more information in regards to our acoustic services, including acoustic design reviews, sound testing and noise surveys please contact us at: info@aptsoundtesting.co.uk or call Darren on 07775623464 or visit our website at: www.aptsoundtesting.co.uk

 

 

 

How are Plots Selected for Sound Testing?

How are plots selected for sound testing?

APT usually specifies the amount of sound insulation tests that are required. Firstly we look through the floor plans to work out a testing schedule taking into account the positioning of habitable rooms, the room and partitions sizes. We always tests through ‘habitable rooms’ partitions i.e. lounges & bedrooms wherever possible – as per the details shown below). We will also try and undertake testing across walls and floors in different areas of the building and through different partition types i.e. if one wall is made of masonry and the other met-sec partitioning.  Once we have specified the sound testing schedule, the client should show building control to seek their approval before the commencement of the sound testing.

Detail A – Sound Testing through Walls

Plan_Sound_Test_Through_Walls

Detail B – Sound Testing through Floors

Plan_Sound_Test_Through_Floor

What are the minimum requirements for separating party walls and floors?

The minimum requirements of ADE can depend on a variety of factors such as if the development is new build or refurbished, whether the development is intended to be a permanent dwelling, or classified as “rooms of residential purposes” (e.g. hotels, student accommodation, etc). A brief summary of the minimum requirements can be found below:

DWELLING HOUSES AND FLATS Airborne standard

DnTw,w+Ctr dB

Impact Standard

L’nT,w dB

 

Purpose built dwellings

Walls at least 45 N/A
Floors and Stairs at least 45 up to 62
 

Dwelling formed by material change of use

Walls at least 43 N/A
Floors and Stairs at least 43 up to 64

 

ROOMS FOR RESIDENTAIL PPOSES Airborne standard

DnTw,w+Ctr dB

Airborne standard

L’nT,w dB

 

Purpose-built rooms

Walls at least 43 N/A
Floors and Stairs at least 45 up to 62
 

Rooms formed by material change of use

Walls at least 43 N/A
Floor and Stairs at least 43 up to 64

If you have a project that requires acoustic design advice or sound insulation testing, then please contact us at: info@aptsoundtesting.co.uk or phone me directly on 07775623464.

Upgrading Floor Partitions to Pass Sound Testing

Upgrading Floor Partitions to Pass Sound Testing

In our experience of undertaking hundreds of sample of sound tests throughout London and the Home Counties, refurbishment projects usually achieve 30-35dB for airborne sound and 70dB for Impact Sound, if the existing construction has not been acoustically upgraded. Unfortunately, the aforementioned figures do not meet the required 43dB & 64dB as stipulated in Part E of Building Regulations. As sound double every 10dB this is a massive failure and acoustic improvements must be made. Many existing construction consist of a similar construction as shown in as detail 1 below.

Detail 1: Existing Floor Partitions Rated at Approx. 30dB

Failed_sound_Testing_Due_to_existing_floor_Construction_

Improving Existing Floor Partitions

To reduce airborne and impact sound transmission this usually means adding density and isolation to the floor construction. This can be as simple as adding a drop ceiling consisting of 125mm timber frame. The top of the frame must be a minimum of 25mm below the existing ceiling finish – such as lathe and plaster. Then, to the inside of the timber frame add 100mm of Acoustic Wool and two layers of sound-board tacked to the bottom of the timber frame – all boards to be lapped. This should improve your sound test results by approx. 10-15dB depending on the existing site conditions and quality of the installation – as per Detail 2 below:

Detail 2: Acoustic Flooring Partition Upgrade

ceiling_upgrade_to_pass_sound_test

Taking the above into account is it essential that good acoustic design is addressed right from the start of the refurbishment project, so it prevents delays in handover, i.e. to prevent the dwelling failing the sound testing at building control signoff stage.– a common problem.

If you would like advice on your acoustic design or require sound insulation testing in London, please contact us now on 07775623464 or contact us at info@aptsoundtesting.co.uk.