Poor Dwelling Layouts Can Cause Sound Testing Failure.
In our experience its often the location and poor dwelling layouts that can cause sound testing failure. plays an important role in relation to the levels of subsequent ambient or background noise that surrounds the occupants. Loud noise sources such as Roads with high traffic volumes, railway lines or airports or entertainment venues can provide a high level of ambient background noise, which may help to ‘mask’ the perceived noise that is being transmitted between dwellings.
Planning Room layouts and functions
Planning a good acoustically favorable dwelling layout can help to reduce the number of noise problems that will occur and help you pass Part E Sound Testing
Main ‘habitable’ rooms such as Kitchens or living rooms, which back onto bedrooms of the adjacent dwelling, are more likely to lead to noise complaints. Kitchen cupboards doors may transmit impact noise through to the bedroom next door through the dividing partition; this can lead to annoyance and frustration for the neighbor.
If neighbours have varied working patterns the layout and the use of rooms are particularly important. Complaints about noise may more often result when the living room of one dwelling is over a bedroom of another dwelling, for example.
Changes to the external building façade
APT have undertaken many façade sound tests to ISO 140 Part 5, in our experience many of the new buildings are struggling to achieve a rating of 40dB, which makes a mockery of Part E as you need to achieve 43dB and 45dB for sound testing on refurb and new build dwellings. Often simple upgrades such as the replacement of double to triple glazing can reduce the level of external noise (termed background noise) entering the dwelling. As such, there may be less background noise and neighbours may hear each other more easily.
Often the perceived quality of sound insulation may also be influenced by the relationship with their neighbor. If the relationship is amicable then the noise intrusion and the level of noise may be more acceptable than in situations where there is disagreement or hostility between neighbours. Noise issues may only become apparent when there is a change in the lifestyle or the neighbor adopts new work patterns, or when new neighbours move in. Even if the building has passed their dwelling sound test with good results, people may pick up noise in the early AM if neighbours are returning from their work shift.
New building works
Previous service works for water pipes, drainage and heating systems can influence the overall performance of a wall or floor, i.e. access may be needed the SVP pipes within the pipe boxing. During the works the acoustic lagging may be removed to get to the SVP pipe; unfortunately this may not be replaced after the works are complete. The subsequent sound of rushing water may then be audible. Also during other works ceilings such as lathe and plaster may have been removed and replaced by one layer of 12mm plasterboard, even though this is a new material, it may not have the mass of a 40mm lathe & plaster ceiling resulting in the increase of noise levels from the property above.
Surface material changes (carpet to timber)
In our experience one of the most common triggers for complaints is the change of room surface (e.g. from carpet to laminate flooring) treatments or materials. We have undertaken many sound tests on existing buildings where the occupier has changed from carpet to timber and/or tile. Without the applying the acoustic upgrades for this change in material this can typically lead to a 20dB reduction in insulation performance. This can lead to occupants below this floor changing their assessment of impact noise from “acceptable” to a level they may describe as “unacceptable”.
People who have previously lived in detached houses and move into a flat or attached dwelling they may feel that the level of sound insulation is poor, however this may not be the case and the sound tests results may actually be quite good – well in excess of the minimum standards as set out in Part E of Building Regulations.