SOUNDPROOFING AND NOISE CONTROL
One of the more common complaints about houses with poor build quality is noise transfer, both from outside sources but in particular between the rooms in the house itself. The ability, if that is the right word, to hear someone having a wee from distant corners of the house is many people’s worst fear — and poor acoustics is something that could, and should, be considered at the design stage of a project.
The Building Regulations for sound (Part E in England and Wales) are split into two sections: E1 and E2.
-E1 looks at protection from noise from adjoining buildings (flats, terraces, semis) -E2 deals with sound transmission within the home itself.
That’s not to say it’s not worth improving the sound performance over and beyond meeting the 40dB standard imbedded in the Building Regulations. But logically, it might be better to think about building a quiet room or two, rather than trying to improve the performance of the whole house.
The idea of a quiet room is being promoted by British Gypsum. Their Sound Solutions offer useful advice (including a consultant service) and techniques for creating a quiet room in both new build and existing houses — aiming for around 55dB.
The improvements all add a little depth to the existing walls, ceiling and floors and are therefore not likely to be terribly practical as a whole house retrofit solution, but could be immensely helpful in improving the sound reduction in a particular room.
CANCELLING NOISE BETWEEN ROOMS
One simple solution for those wanting an upgrade on their own home acoustics would be to adopt the much more demanding standards set out in Part E1 for party walls and floors, for internal partitions. This has been made even easier by the adoption of a set of robust details which are widely used by commercial housebuilders who want to comply with E1 but wish to avoid expensive and time-consuming acoustic testing.
Another approach would be to look at a proprietary standard, like Saint-Gobain’s Multi-Comfort standard which combines the Passivhaus standard for energy efficiency with air quality and an acoustic standard set close to Part E1. ‘Airborne sound insulation up to 68dB’ is what is offered. Needless to say, Saint-Gobain may have good commercial reason for promoting such improved standards because they sell plasterboard and insulation — two of the main products required.
But that doesn’t make the Multi-Comfort standard a bad idea. Any upgrade to the specification involves extra expense, but upgrading acoustic standards on internal walls and floors is not going to have any significant impact on the overall budget, adding between 0.5% and 2% to overall costs depending on the level of soundproofing involved.
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