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Acoustic Building Regulations

Acoustic Building Regulations

Acoustic Building Regulations - England & Wales - Part E (2006)

Building Regulations Approved Document E gives guidance on how to provide reasonable standard of sound insulation in dwellings and other residential buildings - in both new build and refurbishment or conversion work. The Part E Regulation also contains a requirement for acoustic conditions in schools, and refers to the performance values contained in DfES Building Bulletin 93 "The Acoustic Design of Schools" as a means of satisfying this requirement.
 
In July 2003, the regulation authorities tightened the standards of sound insulation for both separating walls and floors, and internal walls and floors for all residential buildings.
 
The aim of the standards is to improve the acoustic environment by reducing noise transmission between and within all residential dwellings.
 
In July 2003, Approved Document E introduced five key differences to the previous legislation:

1 - Rating System

In addition to improving the acoustic performances that consturctions need to achieve, Approved Document E introduced a new rating system. This introduced a correction factor when measuring sound that takes particular account of low frequency noice, e.g. bass sound - which is frequently cited as a cause of noise disturbance. This means that the measures are much more difficult to achieve in practice on site.
 
2 - On Site Pre Completion Testing (PCT)

The onus is on the builders of the constructions to demonstrate that the required levels of sound insulation have been achieved through executing Pre-Completion Testing of the built constructions on site. Approved Document E requires that 1 in 10 constructions be tested.
 
3 - Robust Detail

As an alternative to PCT, it is possible to comply with the requirements of Part E by adopting pre-tested constructions under the Robust Detail Certification Scheme for separating walls and floors in new-build adjoined houses and flats.
 
4 - Performance Ratings For Internal Constructions

In addition to specifying levels of sound insulation for separating constructions, Approved Document E also includes a required level of sound insulation for internal constructions. The majority of internal partitions and floors must achieve the new Rw 40dB requirement.
 
5 - Control of Sound Reverberation

Approved Document E also makes provisions for ensuring that common circulation areas of residential buildings, e.g. corridors and stairwells in apartment buildings and hotels must have sound absorptive treatments to control noise reverberation.
 
6 - Application to ALL Residential Buildings

Approved Document E applies to all types of residential buildings, including hotels, hostels, student accommodation and nursing homes. However, the performance ratings required to be achieved by the separating constructions differ between dwellings and rooms for residential purposes, and between new build and materials change of use/conversion.

Element Of Construction Minimum Airborne Sound Transmission  Minimum Impact Sound Transmission  Minimum Airborne Sound Transmission 
(site test result)  (site test result)  (lab test result) 
DnTw + Ctr  LnTw Rw
Separating walls between dwellings 45dB    
Separating walls between rooms used for residential purposes 43dB     
Separating walls between rooms created by change of use 43dB    
Separating floors between dwellings and rooms used for residential purposes  45dB  62dB  
Separating floors between rooms created by a change of use  43dB 64dB  
An internal wall or floor between a bathroom/WC and a habitable room. Also between bedrooms and other rooms within the dwelling1      40dB1

1 - Internal walls which include a door are exempt from this requirement.
 
The requirement of Approved Document E is that 10% of all dwellings should be Pre-Completion Tested (PCT) on site. This testing applies to separating constructions only - not for internal constructions.
 
Although the revisions to Approved Document E took effect from 1st July 2003, the new build dwelling sector, (i.e. new build houses and apartments), were given a 12 month extension to this deadline. During this time, the Robust Details (RD) scheme was developed. The use of Robust Detail constructions is allowed in new houses and apartments as an alternative to Pre-Completion Testing.
 
The choice of compliance method available is dependent on the type of development on your particular site(s).
 
New Build Houses Or Apartments

 The requirement of Approved Document E is that 10% of all dwellings should be Pre-Completion Tested (PCT) on site. This testing applies to separating constructions only - not for internal constructions. Although the revisions to Approved Document E took effect from 1st July 2003, the new build dwelling sector, (i.e. new build houses and apartments), were given a 12 month extension to this deadline. During this time, the Robust Details (RD) scheme was developed. The use of Robust Detail constructions is allowed in new houses and apartments as an alternative to Pre-Completion Testing. The choice of compliance method available is dependent on the type of development on your particular site(s). 

Two different routes to compliance are available for new build houses or flats/apartments. Either 1) Robust Detail constructions can be used by registering each plot and paying the required fee, or 2) Manufacturer's proprietary systems or Approved Document E Guidance Constructions can be used, and the verified by Pre-Completion Testing.
 
New Build Rooms For Residential Purposes

Only the Pre-Completion Testing route of compliance is available for new build rooms for residential purposes.
 
Material Change of Use / Conversions

Only the Pre-Completion Testing route of compliance is available for new build rooms for residential purposes.
 
Internal Constructions

There is no Pre-Completion Testing requirement for internal constructions. The new performance requirement of Rw40 dB for internal walls and floors applies to residential developments, new build or refurbishment/conversion. Building Control will check internal constructions at plan stage, to ensure details are specified that will meet this required performance.
Either manufacturer's proprietary systems or guidance constructions can be used for this purpose.
 
Acoustic Requirements in Buildings Other than Dwellings and Schools

There are no Building Regulations Technical Guidance Documents dealing with buildings other than dwellings and schools. Sound insulation issues are dealt with either through Planning Applications or Environmental considerations ( such as the impact of factories on surrounding houses) or through sector-specific guidelines (such as the Department of Health's "Health Technical Memorandum 08" which covers acoustic criteria in hospitals and other health premises).
 
Acoustic Building Regulations - Scotland

New building Regulations were introduced in Scotland in 2010 covering:
health, safety, welfare of people within and around buildings
conservation of fuel and power
achievement of sustainable development.
 
Guidance on complying with the requirements of the regulations is given in two Technical Handbooks, one covering domestic buildings and the other non-domestic buildings. Each Handbook has seven sections, including Section 0 which is common to both Handbooks and covers common general issues.
 
Sections 1 to 6 give guidance on how to achieve the standards set by the regulations, and there are different sets for domestic buildings and non-domestic buildings. The six sections each cover a number of related standards. They are:
 
Section 1 Structure
Section 2 Fire
Section 3 Environment
Section 4 Safety
Section 5 Noise
Section 6 Energy
 
Section 5 – Noise

Technical Handbook Section 5 is the approved document covering the resistance to the transmission of sound. The fundamental differences between Section 5 and Approved Document E in England & Wales are as follows:
Section 5 has an Rw 43 dB requirement for internal partitions and intermediate floors within the same dwelling, which is also generally applicable for student accommodation, compared to 40 dB in AD E
Section 5 has no requirement for sound absorption in common areas of the building.
Section 5 measures site performance by way of a DnTw measure only, whereas AD E also uses a Ctr correction factor, particularly for low frequencies.
The Robust Details scheme does not apply in Scotland, although some of the constructions may be suitable subject to testing.
Example construction and junction details are available in conjunction with Section 5.
However, there is not a scheme for separating walls and floors in Scotland that replaces on-site testing.
 
Design Performance Levels in dB for Separating Walls & Floors

  New-build & Conversions Conversion of Traditional Buildings
(not including traditional buildings)
Minimum Airborne Sound Insulation  56 DnT,w 53 DnT,w
Maximum Impact Sound Transmission 56 DnT,w  58 DnT,w