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.

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

 

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

Acoustic Design Advice for my Sound Insulation Test

Acoustic Design Advice for my Sound Insulation Test

We at APT Sound Testing pride ourselves on offering a comprehensive acoustic design service to help you development attain compliance with Building Regulations Part E at the first attempt. If you send through the relevant drawings such as sections and floor plans during the design stages of the project, we can check the design is adequate and if there appears to be any junctions or details where ‘noise flanking’ may occur, we can then advise if any changes are required to lower the chance of sound test failures.

Acoustic_Design_Service

There are many factors to consider when considering good acoustic design, and they are usually split up into five key factors. If used together or in various combinations they will improve sound insulation properties over a wide range of frequencies. The main factors are:

  1. Mass
  2. Isolation
  3. Absorption
  4. Resilience
  5. Stiffness

Coupled_wall_construction

Also, noise flanking transmission may in some cases be the dominant pathway between adjoining dwellings, especially in existing buildings where you are planning to convert offices/large houses into flats. Here are just a few of the potential noise flanking areas:

  1. Structural Steels
  2. Windows built very close to Internal partitions
  3. Inner leaf of the external wall
  4. External wall cavities
  5. External façade or outer leaf
  6. Roof structure

APT Sound Testing can advise on all types of acoustic design, whether it’s during the initial design of a new build project and/or undertaking sample sound testing and design during a refurbishment/renovation project. We also undertake UKAS accredited sound insulation testing providing a ‘one stop’ solution for all your acoustic requirements.

If you would like more information on our full range of our acoustic services please contact us now at info@aptsoundtesting.co.uk or call Darren direct on 07775 623464.

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.

Improving Sound Insulation on Conversion Projects

Improving Sound Insulation on Conversion Projects

In cities throughout the UK there are a huge amount of conversion projects where large Victorian or Georgian houses – or more recently office blocks) have been converted into flats or rooms for residential purposes. Unfortunately designing for sound insulation is not always shown the highest priority on these types of projects, so many converted dwellings suffer from adverse noise transference between the floor and wall partitions. This can be extremely stressful to the occupant’s well-being is a major cause for concern.

architect drafting a house blueprint

architect drafting a house blueprint

We have helped many of our clients achieve compliance with Part E, by undertaking some simple steps. We can undertake an initial sample sound test of the existing wall and floor construction to ascertain the existing sound insulation levels. 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 effective than just forwarding an acoustic design that may be to excessive and expensive, especially if the existing floor and/or wall only needs to improve by a minimal amount such as 1-3dB. By having the existing sound levels of the partitions we can recommend targeted, acoustic upgrades to comply with Building Regulations Part E.

Sound_Insulation_Testing_Equipment

=The sound insulation levels required to pass Part E for refurbishment projects are less stringent than new build projects. Instead of 45dB for airborne its 43dB (2 dB less), and for instead of 62dB for Impact Sound Testing its 64dB on new build (2 dB more).

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 sign off stage.– a common problem.

We have offered design advice on hundreds of conversion projects, so we have the experience to help you comply with Building Regulation Part E and achive a sucsessful sound test. 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.

 

Noise Flanking Paths

Noise Flanking Paths

To reduce the chance of sound testing failure, it is imperative that flanking transmission is considered at the design stage to reduce potential noise flanking paths. Good detailing at the design stage will minimise this effect and optimise the overall levels of acoustic privacy achieved. If designing for residential units, design advice on flanking details must be followed to maximise the possibility of achieving the specified acoustic performance. It is imperative that the design advice is followed, otherwise the site sound insulation values may not meet the performance criteria required and subsequent expensive remedial treatment may be required.

sound_transmission_through_floors

Flanking sound is defined as sound from a source room that is not transmitted via the separating building element e.g. the wall or floor partition. The sound is transmitted indirectly via paths such as external walls, windows, doors and internal corridors. One of the easiest ways of dealing with sound flanking issues is to use isolation strips around the perimeter of the partitions at the edges of floors and walls, this should be finished with acoustic sealant

One of the main reasons for flanking sound test failures is when the inner leaf of the perimeter wall is built with light weight blocks. This acts like a large snare drum and the sound simple travels straight up the wall from one flat to the flat above and/or below. Even if you have used a acoustically robust wall and/or floor partition the sound insulation testing may still fail. If you have used lightweight blocks in your onsite construction and the building fails the sound test you may need to construction independent internal plasterboard lining throughout the inner perimeter wall, this should isolate the lightweight blocks and ensure the flanking path is minimized.

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.

If you would like more information in regards to sound insulation testing and or acoustic design advice, then please call us now at info@airpressuretesting.net or call me (Darren) direct on 07775623464.

Sound Insulation Testing in London

Sound Insulation Testing in London

London is a massive city containing over 9 million people density and high rise apartments. With many living in this overcrowded environment it is essential that noise transference between adjoining properties in kept to a minimum for the occupant’s well-being. One way of ascertaining that a building is in compliance with Building Regulations Part E for the prevention of noise transference, is to undertake Sound Insulation Testing in London.

Sound_Testing_Flats

We have undertaken thousands of sound insulation tests throughout London and the South East on all types of projects from simple flat conversions to large developments containing hundreds of flats. We also undertake Sound Insulation Testing where a lease holder dispute has arisen, i.e. where the buildings lease stipulates that wooden floors should not be used instead of carpets and as a result of the change of floor finish the noise levels have increased – especially the impact noise. We can also undertake sample sound testing to highlight the existing noise levels so a targeted acoustic design can be undertaken.

Plate A – Tapping Machine for Impact Sound Testing

Impact Sound Testing

Currently we are also experiencing a rise in the amount of sound testing required to existing blocks of flats, such as existing council stock. This is hardly surprising as the amounts of noise complaints have more than doubled within the last 10 years due to residents experiencing excess noise between the dividing wall and floor partitions.  By utilising our extensive knowledge of different materials and construction we can forward a simple, explanative cost effective solution for wall and/or floor upgrade. Where our clients have followed our advice they have achieved a 100% success sound test pass rate ensuring compliance with Part E of Building Regulations.

APT Sound Insulation Testing offer both preconstruction and post construction design solutions if a project has failed the sound testing. We also offer onsite inspection services to ensure that the sound insulation elements are being installed as per manufactures guild-lines.

If your require pre-completion sound testing and/or you would like acoustic design advice on your project, please contact us now at info@aptsoundtesting.co.uk.

Impact Sound Insulation Testing

Impact Sound Insulation Testing

Impact sound transmission testing is undertaken to floors only. This test is different, a calibrated Norsonic ‘tapping machine’ which comprises of five ‘hammers’ driven up and down by a cam and electric motor is used to “tap” the floor surface by applying a known force on the floor structure. The machine is placed in several pre-determined positions. The resulting noise is measured in the dwelling below, using a sound level meter.

Impact Sound Testing

Thereafter, background noise measurements are made using a class 1 sound level meter in the receiving room and are used to apply appropriate corrections for external sound such as traffic noise. Similarly the reverberation time (the time taken for sound to decay by 60dB) is measured within the receiving room using the sound source and a sound level meter to determine the corrections that must be applied to account for the characteristics and absorptiveness of the room.

The measured noise levels in the receiving room are corrected for background and reverberation characteristics determine the impact sound insulation performance of the floor. For the impact noise the lower the measured level, the better the performance as less sound is being transmitted into the dwelling below.

The time taken to undertake sound testing varies from project to project as no site is exactly the same. Taking into account the standard site conditions impact testing is usually undertaken as part fo a 6 pack test, consisting of  2 airborne wall, 2 airborne floor and 2 impact sound tests. A standard 6 pack test will usually take between two  and three hours, although this is dependent on our engineers having full free uninterrupted access between all the units/rooms under investigation.

If you require sound insulation testing, and/or acoustic design advice then please contact us now at info@aptsoundtesting.co.uk  or phone me (Darren) directly on 07775623464.