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.

Sound Testing for Approved Document E

Sound Testing for Approved Document E

Approved Document E – ‘Resistance to the passage of sound’ became part of the building regulations on July 1st 2003 and provides minimum sound insulation Building Regulation requirement for new build and conversion dwellings. Properties include houses, flats, hotels, student residences, care homes are all now required to be sound tested under approved document E.

Part E Sound Testing

Part-E-Sound-Testing

Approved Document E is a government issued document providing guidance for developers, architects and building control bodies as well as other bodies involved in the design and conversion of buildings for residential purpose. The document explains the testing requirement for each type of project and provides some good advice and details about building procedures and materials that affect test results.

In Part E it defines the two types of sound – ‘airborne sound, which is sound generated and transferred directly in the air by talking or home entertainment systems such as music systems or Televisions) or ‘impact sound, such as sound generated by the impact of an object striking the floor and transmitted through it, such as footfall noise).

Excessive Noise Problems

Excessive-Noise

The objective of Approved Document E is to raise sound resistance standards and reduce excess noise for tenants for both airborne and impact noise, which in turn will to provide reasonable living conditions and improve the well-being of tenants. Sound insulation testing may also be required in non-residential buildings such as schools, hospitals and workplaces to ensure that noise sensitive areas such as classrooms, wards and meeting rooms are suitably insulated from noisier areas, notably BREEAM projects usually require sound insulation testing. In rare cases the sound testing of external facades may also be  a requirement.

APT Sound Testing are a UKAS and ISO accredited company.

If you would like more information in regards to our sound testing services please contact us at: info@aptsoundtesting.co.uk or visit our website at: www.aptsoundtesting.co.uk

The Different Types of Sound Insulation Testing

The Different Types of Sound Insulation Testing

Sound Testing has been mandatory requirement since July 2003. All new build dwellings and conversions which were built after this date require 10% of each party wall/floor construction type to be tested.

Sound Insulation Tests needs to be carried out between pairs of rooms separated by party walls or floors, i.e. in block of flats you would undertake airborne testing across the walls and floors; and impact tests across the floors.

Sound_Testing_Flats

You usually try to undertake testing between the two main habitable rooms, such as living rooms and bedrooms. The sound test procedure involves setting up a noise source in a room on one side of the party wall or floor and measuring the noise on both sides of the partition with a class 1 analyser.

Airborne Sound Insulation Tests

Airborne sound insulation tests may be required between horizontally and vertically separated pairs of rooms. 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.

Sample_Sound__Testing

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.

Impact Sound Insulation Tests

For vertically separated rooms Impact sound Insulation testing may also be required. This sound test is undertaken using a “tapping machine”, (as above) which drops a series of weights 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.

Impact Sound Testing

We use the latest Norsonic equipment, which is class one rating and UKAS calibrated. We are a UKAS and ISO accredited company, so you can be assured all our testing is carried out to the strictest quality controlled standards.

If you would like more information in regards to sound testing please follow our blog at: http://soundtestinguk.blogspot.co.uk/, or contact me (Darren) on 07775 623464 ot email us at info@aptsoundtesting.co.uk

Excessive Noise Flanking can lead to Sound Test Failure

Excessive Noise Flanking can lead to Sound Test Failure

Noise Flanking is a term used by acoustic engineers to describe where passes sound over the top or under the primary partition separating the two spaces under test. Noise flanking usually appears due to insufficient isolation of materials thus allowing sound to travel through the partition. Unfortunately excessive noise flanking can lead to a sound test failure.

Noise_flanking

One way to reduce the chance of noise flanking transmission is through a careful consideration to the acoustic design from 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, extra care must be shown to the mass, isolation and absorption values of the acoustic construction.

APT Sound Testing offer both preconstruction and post construction ‘remedial’ design solutions to achieve a successful sound insulation testing in-line with Part E of Building Regulations. We also offer onsite inspection services to ensure that the sound insulation elements are being installed as per manufactures guild-lines.

Acoustic_Design_Service

Also, in our experience it is never safe to assume because the architect has specified high performance walls, windows and floor/ceiling assemblies that the materials and onsite workmanship will result in compliance with the anticipated results. You should usually reduce the acoustic target by at least 4-5dB due to onsite construction. When the construction assembly is tested in the lab, it is also certified and the installation techniques are described in detail and the construction is undertaken within Laboratory conditions, which is a far more controlled and scrutinised environment. Unfortunately, it is not always possible to replicate Laboratory conditions on site due to its more chaotic nature with multiple trades working next to each other. This is the reason why a 5 point difference is allowed between the construction design on paper and the actual on site sound testing performance.

We have undertaken hundreds of acoustic design reviews on all types of projects to help our client achieve compliance with Building regulations Part E, we provide a ‘one stop’ solution for all your acoustic requirements.

If you would like more information in regards to our acoustic design service and/or sound testing service, please follow our blog at: http://soundtestinguk.blogspot.co.uk or contact us at: info@aptsoundtesting.co.uk or call me ‘Darren’ direct 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

 

Acoustic Design and Sound Testing

Acoustic Design and Sound Testing

We are currently experiencing a large rise in the amount of housing stock that’s requiring sound testing throughout the UK. As commercial buildings such as offices etc. are converted into residential dwellings sound testing then becomes are requirement under Part E of building regulations. We have carried out a large amount of sound testing in office conversions with varying success as office buildings are not usually designed with acoustics in-mind.

Noise_Problems_Failed_Sound_Testing

To reduce the chance of a sound test failure, it is imperative that flanking transmission is considered at the design stage and any construction detailing is specified to minimise any potential of noise flanking which will downgrade the acoustic performance. 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.

When offices are converted into dwellings we often undertake sample sound testing to check the existing sound levels prior to the commencement of works, once we have established the sound test results we can then come up with a more cost effective design to comply with Part E of Building Regulations.

Historically we have found that if the floor structure is a typical 200mm concrete slab the sample airborne results are coming close to the requirements of Part E without any modifications to the existing slab; however, the impact results are poor. This is because the airborne sound is 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 such as people walking can be very loud and unacceptable.

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 pass Part E of Building Regulations. Using our extensive knowledge regarding the way different materials and construction methods can influence the results of sound testing we can offer easy to follow acoustic advice on the most awkward developments.

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

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.

 

 

 

Designing for Sound Insulation

Designing for Sound Insulation

Many of the dwellings in throughout the UK consist of large houses or office blocks that have been converted into flats. Unfortunately during the design stage of the project designing for sound insulation is not always shown the highest priority, so many converted dwellings fail their precompletion testing.

Acoustic_Design_Service

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.

Even though 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 (2dB less), and for instead of 62dB for Impact Sound Testing its 64dB on new build (2dB more) it is still essential that the acoustic design is shown the highest priory from the start of the project.

Noise_Problems_Failed_Sound_Testing

In our experience, refurbishment projects usually achieve 30-35dB for airborne sound and 70dB for Impact Sound during the sample sound test – 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 major acoustic improvements must be made.

On all new or converted developments, is it essential that good acoustic design is addressed right from the start of the refurbishment project, so the building passes the sound testing at the first attempt and prevents delays in handover.

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