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Why choose SSC for sound testing?

 

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Sound Insulation Testing for Residential Dwellings

Sound Insulation Testing has many names. These include sound testing, sound proof testing, noise testing, acoustic testing, pre-completion testing and so on.  This can be very confusing when you are new to this procedure. All these names mean the same thing, sound insulation testing.  Below we explain what this is, when it is required and how to prepare for a sound test.

Building Regulations Approved Document E (ADE 2003, as amended) applies to attached dwellings, flats or rooms-for-residential use.  These can be new or converted dwellings in England and Wales.  Pre-Completion Testing (PCT) is the normal route to show compliance of how “soundproof” a building is.  Meaning sound insulation testing is required on the finished wall and / or floor structures.  These tests apply to each type of separating wall and floor in the building.

Sound tests consider both airborne and impact sound insulation:

  • Airborne sound insulation. Insulation against sound that is transmitted through the air, such as speech.
  • Impact sound insulation. Insulation to overcome impacts on a floor structure, such as footsteps.

Sound insulation tests results must meet or exceed minimum performance standards.  These are shown in the FAQ section below.

The Building Regulations prefer UKAS accredited companies to carry out sound testing. Sound Solution Consultants (SSC) are UKAS Accredited (4686) for sound insulation testing. Being UKAS accredited demonstrates an ISO 17025 quality management system. Therefore, our reports are guaranteed to be accepted by all Building Control bodies throughout the UK. Our UKAS accreditation covers residential dwellings as well as commercial and other buildings.

Our acoustic consultants are experienced in performing sound tests and are members of the Institute of Acoustics. Meaning that they are kept up to date with all new techniques and changes within the industry. They also regularly complete Continual Professional Development. So, you can be reassured that when choosing SSC, you will be in safe hands and will receive a high-quality service.

If you are unsure if your development requires a sound insulation test. Contact us and we will be able to advise you. We also provide free, no obligation quotes at very competitive rates.

How We Completed A Sound Test

Before we attend to complete a sound test, it is vital that the rooms requiring testing are properly prepared. As the state of the building can have a substantial impact on the results. See our ‘How to Prepare for A Sound Test’ guidance in the below FAQ section.

When testing separating walls or floors, an airborne test is performed. We do this by placing a loudspeaker in the source room which produces a very high sound level. A level difference is recorded in the receiving room; either directly adjacent, above or below.  This level difference is standardised to a reference value.  The airborne result is a single number that can be compared to a performance standard.

For testing floors, an impact test is performed. During an impact test we use a standard tapping machine placed on the floor upper room. We then measure the sound pressure level in the receiver room which is directly below.   This impact pressure level is standardised to a reference value.  The impact result is a single number that can be compared to a performance standard.

See our FAQ section for a full explanation of airborne and impact tests. Performance standards and how many rooms you will need testing.

Other Types of Buildings We Sound Test

We frequently provide sound test for other building types. These include commercial areas, for schools, offices, factories, healthcare buildings and other premises. If you need more information on other sound testing, please contact the team for further advice.

Sound testing is often offered for managing agents of buildings. These tests are outside of the Building Regulations sound tests. Usually concentrating on pre- and post-works testing to evaluate floor finish performances. Note that floor finishes are not normally considered in testing floors under a Building Regulations sound test.

Enhanced sound insulation performance standards can apply in commercial units. Where a residential room is separated from another room of non-residential use (e.g. commercial office, bar or shop below a flat). Specialist advice should be sought on the level of sound insulation that is required. Enhanced sound insulation requirements can also appear as part of planning conditions or project requirements (e.g. BREEAM).

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FAQs

Buildings that have been purpose built have a higher performance standard. Compared to those formed by material change of use (See Table 1a below). Rooms for residential purposes (e.g. hostels, hotels and student halls of residence) are also covered by the Regulations where different values may apply (see Table 1b below).

These values are proven in the field, following Building Regulations sound testing procedures (Annex B).

Table 1a: Dwelling-houses and flats – performance standards for separating walls, separating floors, and stairs that have a separating function.
Airborne sound insulation dB DnT, w + Ctr (Minimum values) Impact sound insulation dB L’nT,w (Maximum values)
Purpose built dwelling-houses and flats
Walls 45
Floors and stairs 45 62
Dwelling-houses and flats formed by material change of use
Walls 43
Floors and stairs 43 64

 

Table 1b: Rooms for residential purposes – performance standards for separating walls, separating floors, and stairs that have a separating function.
Airborne sound insulation dB DnT, w + Ctr (Minimum values) Impact sound insulation dB L’nT,w (Maximum values)
Purpose built rooms for residential purposes
Walls 43
Floors and stairs 45 62
Rooms for residential purposes formed by material change of use
Walls 43
Floors and stairs 43 64

Your building control body will normally confirm the forms of construction to be tested.

When determining the number of tests that are required for your development. The easiest method is to start from a “set” of six tests (two airborne wall tests, two airborne and two impact floor tests). This would be per 10 dwellings, that are a “group” of the same construction.  If different constructions are used, then more sound tests should be undertaken.  If there are no floors in the development, then only walls can be tested.

  • Count the total amount of residential dwellings / flats / rooms that are separated by a common construction method.
  • Round the amount of rooms UP to the nearest 10.
  • A “set” of six tests (two airborne wall tests, two airborne and two impact floor tests) are required per 10 dwellings
  • Repeat for each construction variation used

For other building types such as schools. The number of sound tests will differ from the above. As you will need to consider the whole development. Specialist advice should be sought. Unless a testing schedule has been pre-defined for the project by an Acoustic Consultant or Building Control Body.

This can be undertaken in exceptional circumstances, and in agreement with your Building Control Body.  The normal requirement is to provide sound tests between rooms of residential uses. For example, bedroom to bedroom, living room to living room. Not to-or-from common areas.

A minimum room volume of 25 m3 is recommended in the sound testing procedure. See Annex B of Building Regulation Approved Document E.

There is a practical lower room volume limit to any room. Which can be applied to complete a valid sound test in accordance with the sound testing standards. In turn, a small room size can alter the uncertainty or reproducibility of the test.  Sound testing in very small rooms (such as corridors) is not recommended. As it is often not possible to undertake a valid test within the constraints of the space.  It is also not advocated under Building Regulations Part E.

Airborne sound, sometimes termed as airborne noise. Is sound that is transmitted through the air. So, in a residential scenario can include speech, television and radio, or dogs barking.

To determine how airborne sound insulated a wall or floor is (or how soundproof they are). We use airborne sound insulation tests.  Building Regulations Approved Document E provides a method for testing these structures, using high noise levels.  These tests provide airborne sound insulation values. That are used to compared against Building Regulations sound testing performance standards.

An airborne sound insulation test requires a sound source to generate high-pressure levels in a source room. Which is measured in the source and receiver room directly adjacent, above or below. This will determine the level difference across the separating wall or floor.  The background level and reverberation time are also equated in the receive room. We do this to calculate the standardised level difference.  The test standard requires the receiver sound level to be 10 dB (i.e. subjectively twice as loud) as the background level at all frequencies under test. This means that either very high source levels and/or low background levels are required to generate valid results.

The term used for airborne sound tests is the weighted standardised level difference DnT, w . In Building Regulations sound testing, this is corrected using the low-frequency Ctr weighting. Where the result is equal to DnT, w + Ctr and expressed in decibels. The exact method is described within sound testing, under Annex B of Building Regulations Approved Document E.

Impact sound, sometimes termed as impact noise. Is mainly structure-borne sound that occurs when an object impacts on a structure. So, in a residential scenario this corresponds to footsteps on a floor.

To determine how impact sound insulated a separating floor is (or how soundproof a floor is). We use impact sound insulation tests.  Building Regulations Approved Document E provides a method for testing these structures, using a tapping machine.  These tests provide impact sound insulation values. That are used to compared against Building Regulations sound testing performance standards.

An impact sound insulation test requires a calibrated impact source, such as a tapping machine. To generate standard tapping sounds in a source room. This is then measured in the receiver room directly below.  The background level and reverberation time are also equated in the receiver room. We use this to calculate the standardised impact sound pressure level.  The test standard requires the receiver sound level to be 10 dB (i.e. subjectively twice as loud). As the background level at all frequencies under test.  This means that very low background levels are required to generate valid results. Particularly where the impact sound insulation performance of the floor is high.

The term used is the weighted standardised impact sound pressure level L’nT, w. Where the result is expressed in decibels. The exacting method is described within sound testing, under Annex B of Building Regulations Approved Document E.

Before a sound test is completed it is vital to ensure that space is properly prepared. The state of the building can have a substantial impact on the results.  Here is our checklist of things to consider before the test takes place:

  • Safe access and keys will be provided to all rooms to be tested, on all levels of the building. Note that our staff are not permitted to use temporary stairs, ladders or scaffolding. To move between test rooms whilst carrying associated testing equipment.
  • All properties will be fully vacated during the entire duration of the test. The visiting engineer will notify the site manager if anyone needs to be removed from test rooms.
  • The type of room to be tested should be a living room or bedroom.
  • Volumes ≥ 25 m3on both sides of the separating element to be tested.
  • All floor and ceiling surfaces are complete and free of debris or furniture.
  • All cornices and skirting boards should be in place.
  • 240 V (mains) electrical outlets available in all rooms to be tested.
  • All electrical and other sockets on the separating element shall be fitted.
  • All doors and windows of the rooms under test shall be fitted, working correctly (fully closable) and sealed.
  • Window trickle vents to be fitted and closed (or the openings temporarily blocked up). This is required for all rooms that are being tested.
  • All site staff shall be made aware of the requirement to limit background noise during the sound tests. As this can affect the quality or validity of the results obtained.
  • Any ‘noisy’ building work in the vicinity of the test rooms will be stopped during the entire duration of the test. This includes noise sources (e.g. radios) turned off and external ground works, painting or cleaning activities halted about the test rooms.
  • Noisy (i.e. beeping) smoke alarms must be de-activated prior to testing.
  • Noisy ventilation systems in rooms must be turned off prior to testing.
  • Floor finishes (such as carpets, vinyl, ceramic tiling or timber laminates) have not been fitted in rooms if separating floors are to be tested.

The above points are all essential if we are to achieve reliable sound test results.  If unsuitable testing conditions are provided which cannot be easily rectified. Our quoted terms of testing dictate that abortive fees can apply.

The Code for Sustainable Homes was an environmental assessment method for rating and certifying the performance of new homes in the UK. It encourages sustainable home building.  It was withdrawn by Government in 2015.

Regarding health and wellbeing credits, superior levels of sound insulation were built into the Code. These require enhanced performance standards to be met within the built development by pre-completion testing. Or via Robust Details Ltd certification scheme.

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Why work with us?

  • Established since 2004
  • Friendly, Professional & Knowledgeable Consultants
  • Competitive Pricing & High-Quality Services
  • Maximum 4 Working Day Promise on Sound Testing*
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  • We Work Across the Whole of the UK
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* Maximum 4 working days from confirmation of booking to site attendance on all sound insulation testing. Quotation T&C's apply. Working days are Monday to Friday excluding bank/public holidays and office shut down days.** Excludes written advice or revisits.

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What our clients say

I just wanted to say a huge thank you to you and your team for all the extra help you have given me in dealing with my rather sensitive issue of noise transmission to my downstairs neighbour. It has been invaluable. In recognition, I have made a £50 donation to the charity: Action on Hearing Loss.

Jodi Riches - Client

Have worked with Sound Solution for the last 7 years and have found them to be very professional and excellent at their work. Always happy to provide me with advice pre and post purchasing new buildings and during development projects. We have worked on various scale of projects and so far have found nothing that phases them. The reports are well written, clear and easy to follow. A great asset to our extended team.

Sanjeev Bhamm, Pelham Associates

We are delighted to work with SCC Ltd in resolving the ever more complex requirements for careful acoustic design. Their knowledge coupled with a helpful approach assists us in delivering tailored solutions which fit within our design constraints.

Chris Parsons, Parsons Whittley

We have been working with Sound Solutions for a few years now, as they offer a professional and consistent service. They are always happy to respond to site-based questions and are quick to reply to emails and phone calls. It is reassuring to our clients that they provide both the specification prior to construction and test on completion.

Ben Harvey - Architect, Liam Russell Architects

We have worked with Mark and the team at Sound Solutions for many years and have always been very happy with their professional service and first-rate advice. I have personally recommended them to many other clients.