Acoustic design advice for residential dwellings
Anyone managing a new build or material change of use project to create residential dwellings, is legally required to ensure that the building meets the acoustic performance criteria set out in Building Regulations Approved Document E.
Sound Solution Consultants (SSC) have years of experience in providing reliable design and testing services to assist you in meeting these essential, legal requirements.
For new build residential projects, there are two means adhering to one of two main building methods: Robust Details certification scheme and Pre-Completion Testing (PCT).
Robust Details provides a certification scheme which assures compliance using a set of construction methods listed in the Robust Details manual. These construction methods are very detailed (specific right down to the type of wall tie or insulation to be used, for example) and all details must be followed in full compliance with the Robust Details Manual. This level of engineering is specifically provided to ensure that Approved Document E performance criteria are met (in 99 % of cases) upon conclusion of the project.
If the process of registering and building Robust Detail constructions is followed, then it will not be necessary to pay for pre-completion sound tests once the project has been completed. In this regard, the process of following Robust Details can be cost-beneficial and simple for new build projects of any scale.
Pre-completion Sound Testing (PCT) requires that buildings are tested prior to completion to ensure they meet Approved Document E acoustic performance standards. The Regulations require that a pair of tests is provided per ten separating constructions, with the person carrying out the building work responsible for arranging the testing. PCT should only be carried out by a qualifying test body, preferably UKAS accredited or registered under the ANC sound insulation testing scheme.
If you’re managing the process to convert houses into flats or ‘rooms for residential use’, then the last thing you need to be worrying about is passing a sound test following Approved Document E.
Meeting the acoustic performance requirement in a conversion is a legal requirement for the following building types where the process of PCT must be followed:
- House to flat conversions
- Hotels and hostels
- Boarding houses
- Halls of residence
- Residential homes
SSC offer full acoustic design consultation and sound testing services, in which we can provide you with all the assistance and documentation that you need to ensure that your residential development meets the legally required acoustic performance standards.
Our approach to design and testing is listed in five steps, as follows:
Step 1 – We will review your architects’ drawings to ensure that the basic acoustic principles have been followed so far. From there, we will be able to work out if the acoustic performance needs to be altered, especially in cases where the changes are likely to save time or material costs.
In conversion projects we’ll also visit your site prior and analyse the current state of building construction. This enables us to get a complete picture of which acoustic treatments will be necessary. We’ll work out the cheapest and most efficient way of converting the building using the products and systems currently available.
Step 2 – We will provide a full report that details all the aspects of acoustic treatment that will be required for the project to meet Requirement E1 to E3 of Approved Document E acoustic criteria. This report will include both cross section diagrams and sketches.
Step 3 – We will visit your site whilst construction is taking place in order to ensure that the construction methods being used are in-keeping with those originally specified. We’ll remain on hand to assist the builder in ensuring that the required level of detail is met.
Step 4 – Where possible, we will work with you to supply building materials at reduced costs, helping to save the project even more money.
Step 5 – We’ll provide a competitive quote for carrying out the final test and, if you’re happy to proceed, we’ll carry out the test (where the project is relevant).
Environmental noise surveys and noise assessments are often completed in line with planning applications for proposed residential developments in order to protect residents against existing noise sources such as roads, railways, and industry. If the development in question involves the introduction of a noise source such as a heat pump, noise from the proposed unit must be assessed to neighbouring noise-sensitive properties.
Approved Document E provides sound insulation criteria and reverberation control guidance for residential developments. The guidance applies to both new-build and change of use dwellings. We can review the acoustic design of a proposed development to ensure compliance with Approved Document E.
All new-build or change-of-use residential developments require sound insulation testing to demonstrate compliance with Approved Document E. The airborne and impact sound insulation of a sample of walls and floors are tested. We are UKAS accredited for pre-completion sound insulation testing, meaning that our test reports are accepted as evidence of compliance by all building control bodies.
If you’re considering transitioning to a hard floor finish, like timber, in a leasehold apartment, be aware that building management often requires adherence to specific acoustic conditions.
We can help design a compliant hard floor and help negotiate with the managing agent where criteria are unreasonable or unachievable. Pre and post-works Sound Testing may also be a requirement of the managing agents prior to works commencing, followed by a design report describing the required acoustic treatments. Sound Solution Consultants can provide all of these services.
Approved Document O applies to all new residential developments registered from 15th June 2022. The legislation requires that the design of buildings balances the requirements of meeting suitable internal noise levels (acoustic design) with the strategies to prevent overheating (thermal design). Compliance can be demonstrated by either the ‘simplified method’ or via Dynamic Thermal Modelling dependent on environmental factors including external noise levels.
We can provide an environmental noise survey and predictive noise modelling to determine noise levels at each facade. We have also partnered with Energy and Sustainability experts for Dynamic Thermal Modelling to provide a holistic approach combining the document’s thermal and acoustic requirements.