Sound Insulation Testing or Sound Testing is normally required when a building has been converted to flats ie Material Change of Use or the building has been constructed as purpose built flats i.e. New Build.
Approved Document E of the Building Regulations requires that Party Walls and Floors must be sound tested to prove compliance with the criteria set out within the document table as shown in Table 1a below.
These sound tests must be carried out by qualified engineers, either through UKAS or ANC Accredited Bodies. Sound Solution Consultants Ltd are a Registered UKAS organisation and so are well qualified to provide the Sound Insulation Testing for your project. You can view our accreditation certificate here.
For walls, Airborne Wall Sound Tests are required, we would need access to both sides of the Party Wall to carry out the sound testing and all windows and doors need to be fitted in order for the sound tests to be completed.
For Party Floors, we would need to carry out Sound Tests for Airborne and Impact Noise between Flats. Once again all windows and doors need to be fitted and working for the Sound Testing to be completed properly, it is also in your interests to ensure that the rooms are empty of furniture and tools as these can affect the results in a negative way.
For more information on what needs to be in place before sound testing is carried out view our Installation Details guide within the Knowledgebase.
Airborne Floor Sound Insulation tests are carried out with a large speaker using a white noise generator to create the source sound, usually in the largest room. A Type 1 Sound Level Meter is then used to take noise measurements within the source room and the Receiver Room (room directly below or above source room). We also measure the background noise level in the receiver room such that this can be eliminated from the calculations, the higher the background noise then the higher the source noise will need to be set since the resulting noise level in the Receiver room needs to be 10dB higher than the background noise at all measured frequencies.
Larson Davis Class 1 Sound Level Meter Norsonic Sound Source
Impact Sound Tests are carried out to mimic footstep noise, we use a calibrated machine called (unsurprisingly) a Tapping Machine.
With Impact Sound Tests we set the Tapping Machine up in the Upper flat then measure the noise level in the lower flat. The results have to be lower than 64dB LnTw for Flat Conversions or 62dB for New Build Flats in order to be compliant with regulations.
In all cases the room to be tested should be habitable in nature, i.e. bedrooms or living rooms, and they should have a minimum volume of 25 m3 in order for the Sound Tests to be carried out correctly.
Should the Sound Tests fail, then Building Control should be notified so that they can advise you of how to proceed, since you will need to work out what the was reason for the sound test failure and what to do about it. Sound Solution Consultants can provide a diagnostic service for Sound Test survey failures including investigations into where unwanted noise is travelling through and the best method to reduce the problem, please call our office for further details of our consultancy services.
Current noise level limits for houses and flats are:
For hostels, hotels and bedsits, they are:
Robust Details is another way of complying with Approved Document E, this is where the developer builds to an exact specification approved by Robust Details Ltd. The Developer has to demonstrate through the build that they have followed the specifications closely, including using precise materials as denoted within the Robust Details Handbook. Once the building is complete Building Control would sign the building off without any Sound Tests required to be carried out.
It is possible however that Robust Details Ltd may inspect the building during construction to check on detailing or indeed carry out sample Sound Insulation Testing upon completion.
The details set out in the Robust Details Handbook have been previously shown to exceed the New Build Criteria by a minimum of 5dB such that when used by developers it should meet the requirements of Building Regs Approved Document E and so therefore shouldn’t need to be tested.
Sound Insulation Testing or Sound Testing can also be carried out for a variety of other reasons:
- To test the noise breaking through a wall or floor, such as with neighbour noise issues, or noise from pubs or clubs
- To test the current acoustic performance of a wall or floor before works are carried out
- To measure the acoustic performance of a recently built property against the Building Regulations Part E testing standards
- To carry out sound insulation performance of a school hall which is suffering from excessive reverberation, or needs commissioning test carried out in accordance with the BB93 noise survey
- To sound test the performance of an office board room suffering from “Cross Talk”
- To test the level of noise being emitted from a factory or business
The type of problem being experienced, will directly affect the type of sound insulation test to be carried out, as well as the method for which the sound tests are carried out, since there are various British and ISO Standards that have to be followed.
Once the issues concerned have been established, test procedures can be drawn up and planned. Sound Solution Consultants have a wealth of experience in coming up with sound test procedures and can provide you with a fee quotation.
Listed below are some examples of common problems experienced and the type of action recommended or acoustic test that was carried out.
Client wants to install a wood floor but has to demonstrate that suitable sound insulation treatment is installed and has to gain baseline sound insulation test performance information for managing agents.
Sound Testing in London Mansion blocks is a common requirement.
We would carryout sound testing to Building Regulation Standards prior to works starting, we could then advise on what treatment is required to minimise risks of noise transfer between flats. Post works sound testing is required by some managing agents.
Client is suffering from noise from a pub or night club.
We would normally advise you to contact the local authority first as it is their responsibility to act in such situations, indeed they have a Legal responsibility to investigate noise complaints. If we were to carry out a noise survey, you would be unlikely to be able to claim the money back off the person responsible for the noise, so it’s better to put pressure on Local Authority Environmental Health Officer. Keep a diary of what is occurring and at what times, they will ask you to do this anyway so its speeds up the process if you have already done it.
Client suspects his property hasn’t been insulated correctly as it’s a new build and he can hear a lot of noise from next door.
We would first suggest that you request the original Sound Insulation Test Report for the building as this should demonstrate the level of performance achieved. Again it is the developer’s responsibility to prove that the building complies with Approved Document E of the Building Regulations.
If you get nowhere and still suspect something is wrong, we could carry out Sound Insulation Testing in accordance with A.D.E. We would then report on the results and advise you of what works are required if the performance falls short of the required levels as set out in Approved Document E.
School teachers can’t hear class conversations in school hall due to excessive reverberation.
We would advise carrying out a reverberation test to first establish the current noise levels. We could then advise on what works and absorption materials would be required to bring the performance up to standards as set out in document BB93, this is the standard used for acoustic performance of school classrooms.
Office staff can hear sensitive conversations taking place in the boardroom next door, this is commonly known as Cross Talk.
We would suggest visiting the site to carry out specific sound insulation tests to establish current performance and to identify “Flanking Paths” (Indirect sound paths that vibrations take when travelling into other areas). We can then advise on remedial actions and materials required.
Local business has had a noise complaint from a nearby resident.
We would advise a Noise Impact Assessment to assess what levels of noise are escaping from the business and what the resident is being subjected to. This could involve the use of an Acoustic Camera or Sound Level Meters being left on site for extended periods to gain a picture of what’s going on. We would then be able to advise on what is creating the noise issue and what works are required to resolve the problem.
You need to ensure that the Local Authority do not issue a Noise Abatement Notice on your company as any Breach of Notice could invoke a £20,000 fine.
Client has converted a single dwelling or office building into flats and they have been told that the soundproofing needs to comply with Approved Document E of current Building Regulations.
We would first suggest that you get a professional noise consultant to carry out an investigation to determine what level of treatments are required to ensure that the building will comply with A.D.E. (See our building conversion process for more information).
You then carry out these works as instructed and once complete you need to instruct an ANC / UKAS Accredited Company to carry out Sound Insulation Testing in Accordance with A.D.E. - Sound Solution Consultants are UKAS Accredited and our Registration number is 4686.
Providing the tests all pass then the building would be deemed compliant with Approved Document E of the Building Regulations. You would then forward a copy of the report to your Building Control Officer for the signing off process.