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.

Good Acoustic Design for Sound Testing

Good Acoustic Design for Sound Testing

To attain the standards stipulated within Building Regulations Part E, careful consideration should be shown to your buildings acoustic design  from the start of the project; however this requires different construction techniques and acoustic design detailing for new and build and conversion projects. With new build properties you have a blank canvas in terms of the overall design whereas conversions usually require you to work with the existing construction which can be quite difficult if the existing construction is not acoustically robust.

sound_transmission_through_floors

To try and overcome the problems with attaining Part E for your conversion project, we now offer an acoustic design package, which contains the following elements:

  1. Sample Sound Testing – of the existing construction. This offers an accurate overview of the acoustic performance of the existing partitions; this enables us to offer a targeted acoustic design using the sound insulation performance of the existing construction.
  2. Acoustic Design Review – a full design review of the proposed developments party walls and floors taking into account the performance characteristics of the existing construction as well as the buildability and materiel cost of the acoustic upgrade.
  3. 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.
  4. Final Precompletion Sound Testing  – in compliance with Building Regulations Part E to help achieve building control sign off.

We have undertaken hundreds of design reviews around London and the South East with our clients achieving  a 100% pass rate where the acoustic review has been followed. If you would like some more information in regards to our acoustic services and/or sound testing services please visit our website at info@aptsoundtesting.co.uk, or contact us at: info@aptsoundtesting.co.uk or call me (Darren) direct on 07775623464.

 

The Difference Between Laboratory and Site Sound Testing

The Difference Between Laboratory and Site Sound Testing

Many suppliers of acoustic insulation products quote laboratory sound test results  to demonstrate the performance of their systems. This often causes considerable confusion regarding how well products will perform as there are usually large differences between the laboratory and site conditions. For instance laboratory sound tests do not take account of flanking sound and therefore produce sound insulation figures that would be very difficult to achieve on site.

sound testing

Despite site contractor’s best endeavours, it is extremely difficult to build to the stringent exacting standards of the test laboratory. When the construction assembly is undertaken in the lab, it has gone through an exacting installation technique prior to the sound test, which is also a contributing factor why better sound testing levels are achieved.

Throughout the acoustic installation the manufacturer’s guidance is followed to the letter by the lab technicians. Although, this should be replicated on site, it seldom is due to time constraints etc. and so a design which can be easily in excess of the requirements of approved document E, can often lose approx. 8-10dB compared to the laboratory results. Unfortunately there may be many reasons for poor sound test results such as poor quality site installation as well as other on-site issues where cost, time and programming constraints may come into play.

architect drafting a house blueprint

architect drafting a house blueprint

One important thing to consider is that most building structures will be subject to varying amount of flanking sound, so field sound test data should show the real performance of a system in a building. Laboratory sound insulation tests simply measure sound and do not account for flanking sound transmission.

If you are worried about your projects acoustic design and/or have questions about the precompletion sound testing, please don’t hesitate to contact us now at: info@aptsoundtesting.co.uk or Darren direct on 07775623464. 

How to Improve your Sound Test Results

How to improve your Sound Test Results

If you have started a new or conversion development, it is important that from the offset you realise that you will need to comply with stringent sound insulation requirements of Approved Document E. Both new and converted residential dwellings use must meet the standards stipulated in Approved Document E. Part E states that the separating floor partition (floor between two separate dwellings) must achieve sound insulation figures of 45dB for airborne sound and 62dB for impact sound on all new builds and 43dB for airborne sound and 64dB for impact sound on converted dwellings; if you don’t achieve the aforementioned results then you will pass the sound testing. 

Building Control will expect you to demonstrate compliance with Approved Document E 2003 by undertaking an independent sound insulation test to prove that you have met the standards for sound insulation between dwellings.

Sound_Insulation_Testing_Equipment

The sound testing must only be carried out by either UKAS or ANC approved companies. If the sound tests are not carried out by approved compaines then Building Control may not accept the sound test report and subsequently it may need to be undertaken again by an approved company costing more time and money.

We are UKAS accredited to undertake sound insulation testing as well as air tightness testing. We offer design advice to help our client achieve Part E sign off. In some cases clients instruct us to proceed with the sound testing, without having carried our any acoustic upgrades or remedial works often resulting in their partitions failing the sound test.

Sound_Testing_Semi_Detached_House

If you are worried about passing your sound testing in London at the first attempt please don’t hesitate to contact us now at: info@aptsoundtesting.co.uk or visit our website at: www.aptsoundtesting.co.uk or call Darren Direct on 07775623464.

Reducing the Chance of Sound Testing failures

Reducing the Chance of Sound Testing failures

The simplest way to reduce the chance of sound testing failures is through careful consideration to the acoustic design at the start of the project.  Unfortunately, by simply specifying high performance wall and floor partitions, it is no guarantee to adequate sound isolation and successful sound testing at the end of the project.

We offer preconstruction design advice to help you achieve successful sound testing in-line with Building Regulations Part E. We also offer onsite inspection services to ensure that the sound insulation elements are being installed as per manufactures guild-lines, as it’s no use having good acoustic design if it not being installed properly on site.

architect drafting a house blueprint

Acoustic Design of Wall and Floor Partitions

The first stage of the acoustic design is to send through the design drawings – to include sections etc. We then review the design to check that the construction details proposed are capable of passing the sound tests. This usually takes place straight after planning has been approved as increased cost savings can be realised at the earliest stage, we will evaluate the construction methods and materials specified to ensure that they are capable of meeting the acoustic requirements of Approved document E. The typical areas we check are:

  1. There are no flanking points, where isolated partitions are wrongly mechanically fixed together to caused noise bridging.
  2. The walls and floors design are acoustically robust, to comply withBuilding Regulations Part E.
  3. The acoustic treatments for Soil Pipes, Stair Cases Steel Beams etc. to ensure they are acoustically fit for purpose, as these are some of the areas that get usually missed.
  4. Acoustic floor treatments are compatible with the proposed floor finishes i.e. Carpets, Laminates, Floor Tiles and under floor heating systems.

APT Sound Testing also provide on-going design support service, so you will have direct contact with the allocated acoustician from the start of the process through to the successful completion of the project. One of the most important services is the going site survey visits which allow our clients 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.

We also offer an acoustic advice service for clients that have failed their precompletion sound testing. We offer simple solutions to reduce the noise levels and achieve compliance with Part E. We can supply simple easy to follow acoustic design reviews, utilising our extensive knowledge of different materials and construction methods

If you require more information about acoustic design and/or sound testing on your project, please contact us now at info@aptsoundtesting.co.uk or call Darren direct on 07775623464.

Why Have I Failed my Sound Insulation Test?

Why Have I Failed my Sound Insulation Test?

This is one of the most common questions clients ask when their property has just failed the sound testing. One of the main reasons for acoustic partitions failing the Part E sound test is often down to poor isolation of material/s, which can lead to excessive noise flanking. Noise Flanking is a term used by acoustic engineers to describe where sound passes through an acoustic partition due to the abutment of materials. The noise simply hits the one side of the wall and then travels through the construction via a noise bridge. This can be areas such as the incorrect use of masonry wall ties i.e. solid fishtail ties, used in place of specified acoustic wall ties; if your building suffers from noise flanking it may result in a sound test failure.

Sound_Insulation_Testing_Equipment

Unwanted noise travelling along flanking paths can make the building structure vibrate, which can cause sound to radiate into your room – as shown in the plate below . One simple cost effective solution is to build another wall or ceiling in front of the original, to offer extra isolation. For this upgrade to work you need to make sure that the independent wall or ceiling is not directly connected to the existing failed partition; so it provides isolation between materials.

Coupled_wall_construction

Noise flanking can also be down to the use of down to the use of lightweight blocks in the construction of the building envelope. Due to the lightweight mas of the inner wall it allows sound to transmit from dwelling to another, both vertically and horizontally. If a building has failed its sound testing, it is essential to establish if the problem is due to direct transmission, flanking transmission or a combination of both so that the most cost and time effective remedial treatment can be designed and applied to the failed partitions.

If you require more information about acoustic design and/or sound testing on your project, please contact us now at info@aptsoundtesting.co.uk or call me direct on 07775623464.

Sound Insulation Testing

Sound Insulation Testing

At APT we offer Airborne and Impact Sound Insulation Testing in accordance with Part E of the Building Regulations and, where required sound testing on Schools BB93 & BREEAM. Under Part E of Building Regulations, this is a requirement for new and converted dwellings where there is a separating partition wall or floor. The sound insulation testing of existing buildings is carried out to assess current levels of sound insulation and to allow for the design of remedial measures, where the performance needs to be increased.

The buildings that currently require sound testing are:

  1. Dwelling-houses, flats or rooms for residential purposes created by conversion of existing buildings or new build rooms for residential purposes will need to be tested if work starts after 1 July 2004.
  2. New build dwelling-houses and flats will need to be tested if work starts after 1 July 2004.

Sound insulation testing is carried out to ensure that minimum standards of sound resistance have been met to ensure the well-being of new tenants is not compromised by adverse sound transmission. The testing checks that the dividing partitions have not been compromised by poor workmanship and poor design. We use the latest sound testing equipment as shown below:

sound testing equipment

You are normally required to undertake sound testing to each type of construction, i.e. if you have a mixture of brick, block-work, timber and metal stud-work walls all four types would need to be tested, followed by a 10% sample of that type. it is worth noting that if any test failures occur, then the number of sound tests may need to increase on the development.

If you are unsure whether the Regulations apply to your development or if your site needs sound insulation testing, please call your local office or email us at info@aptsoundtesting.co.uk where our team will be happy to discuss all aspects of acoustics or sound insulation within buildings, and explain the testing procedure.