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Advice Needed - New Build Sound Regulation Rules

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Hi everyone. I have a question for anyone who is familiar with Building regulations in the United Kingdom and the Building Act 1984 with regards to sound insulation. The fact of the matter is Im renting at the moment and I have noisy neighbours in all directions. Given a choice I would buy a detached property but it's not really an option in Central London. I'm mulling the option of buying a fairly newly built property. For me, the stomping, banking, loud music and laughter is unbearable. I understand the Approved Document E 2003 plus amendments 2004 specify high levels of sound insulation for properties developed after that date.

So anyone who has any understanding of this regulation, how effective is this and would I be better off buying an older property or a new build with the emphasis being on peace?

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So anyone who has any understanding of this regulation, how effective is this and would I be better off buying an older property or a new build with the emphasis being on peace?

I haven't read the regulations carefully. However, my experiences are as follows:

Lived in a new-ish build (2002) city centre flat for a while. Sound insulation was exceptional between flats. Talking, music, TV, etc. totally inaudible. Washing machine on spin cycle barely audible, but not distracting (even at 2 am - it was only just perceptible and it took a while for me to identify it as a washing machine).

A large student party next door was audible, but not particularly offensive. Solid concrete subfloors meant no creaking floorboards. Carpet, or appropriately underlaid laminate/wood, meant that footsteps were not audible at all.

--

Lived in an older (1960s) terrace (end of terrace). Conversations, TV, etc. were audible through the party wall (but not intelligible). Footsteps and creaky floorboards nextdoor could be heard faintly. Light switches and cupboard doors on the party wall were heard loud and clear.

--

Lived in a central london flat (converted large townhouse - converted a long time ago - probably 50s or 60s). Footsteps are loud and clear. Lots of creaky floorboards, mean that it is easily possible to here same-level neighbours walking around. Constantly got e-mails and notes from my under-neighbour telling me that my feet are like a herd of elephants. TV easily heard. Even neighbours typing at a computer can be heard (albeit very faintly).

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I haven't read the regulations carefully. However, my experiences are as follows:

Lived in a new-ish build (2002) city centre flat for a while. Sound insulation was exceptional between flats. Talking, music, TV, etc. totally inaudible. Washing machine on spin cycle barely audible, but not distracting (even at 2 am - it was only just perceptible and it took a while for me to identify it as a washing machine).

A large student party next door was audible, but not particularly offensive. Solid concrete subfloors meant no creaking floorboards. Carpet, or appropriately underlaid laminate/wood, meant that footsteps were not audible at all.

--

Lived in an older (1960s) terrace (end of terrace). Conversations, TV, etc. were audible through the party wall (but not intelligible). Footsteps and creaky floorboards nextdoor could be heard faintly. Light switches and cupboard doors on the party wall were heard loud and clear.

--

Lived in a central london flat (converted large townhouse - converted a long time ago - probably 50s or 60s). Footsteps are loud and clear. Lots of creaky floorboards, mean that it is easily possible to here same-level neighbours walking around. Constantly got e-mails and notes from my under-neighbour telling me that my feet are like a herd of elephants. TV easily heard. Even neighbours typing at a computer can be heard (albeit very faintly).

Good summary and would agree with most of what you say. To comply with the modern sound/insulation regulations in a refurb building is getting progressively harder

but areas like party walls haven't changed. The floor construction is the most important and well built modern buildings should be best. BTW lots of people rate classic edwardian purpose built mansion blocks for good sound separation , high ceilings and good between floor insulation (sand in some cases). No personal experience myself tho.

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So anyone who has any understanding of this regulation, how effective is this and would I be better off buying an older property or a new build with the emphasis being on peace?

A new build *should* be very good, but we have all heard the stories of the barratt homes where you can hear next door fart. Other than professional measurement just how can you tell if its a shoddy build, and once you are in its tough luck. At least with an older property you get noise insulation by the walls being thick, rather than a fancy building technique. I once lived in an Edwardian flat with a knocking shop next door, and didn't have a clue it was there, I could have had a discount!

The only safe solution is to rent something build at the same time in the same area.

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A new build *should* be very good, but we have all heard the stories of the barratt homes where you can hear next door fart. Other than professional measurement just how can you tell if its a shoddy build, and once you are in its tough luck. At least with an older property you get noise insulation by the walls being thick, rather than a fancy building technique. I once lived in an Edwardian flat with a knocking shop next door, and didn't have a clue it was there, I could have had a discount!

The only safe solution is to rent something build at the same time in the same area.

When I visit my friends in Crouch End, who live in a victorian/edwardian converted flat, am amazed at the noise coming from their basment neighbours. Obviously converted before new regulations and much worse than my new build.

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Buy somewhere with stable neighbours.

Buying new build might get you lots of rented neighbours which could be more noisy.

In theory older people are quieter.

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New build flats get a bad rep, but I've lived in lots and can't remember the last time I heard a neighbour in any direction. +1 for new build!

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Friends lives in barratts timber framed four storey block. The block is one year old. You can hear everyone walking above you and the washing machine upstairs sounds as if the ceiling is about to come down . All the flloors have dropped 12mm from the skirting but perhaps its just Barratts construction

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The flat I live in was built around 93 and I rarely hear any noise, even then I only hear noise if I am sitting reading or doing some other quiet activity and then it is very faint and is not an issue. However I am on the top floor so this could have an impact

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New build flats get a bad rep, but I've lived in lots and can't remember the last time I heard a neighbour in any direction. +1 for new build!

New builds here on the sunny Isle of Wight as appalling. See my previous posts on Admirals Point, Charles Church Marinus, and Hawthorn Meadows, and these are just the very local ones!

-1 for new builds.

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When I moved out of home I lived at a place called Medina View, the particular flat I lived in, you could hear the man upstairs and next door have a wee every morning like clockwork. Occasionally the odd gerdushhhh of a turd hitting the water was thown in for good measure.

The lobby area often smelt of someone elses bad cooking and onions, yuk.

On this experience i'd never in a million years buy an flat let alone a new one.

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Friends lives in barratts timber framed four storey block. The block is one year old. You can hear everyone walking above you and the washing machine upstairs sounds as if the ceiling is about to come down . All the flloors have dropped 12mm from the skirting but perhaps its just Barratts construction

Barratts cannot be blamed for building on spongy marshland. I blame the Victorians for not building there in the first place and helping to free up the 'better' land for our use now.

You could be talking about Carisbrooke Meadows here but I suspect it's Hawthorn Meadows.

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I'm in a new build so given a lot of thought to this question. Just a few ideas. Have also lived in old conversions into flats

1. The new build I am in has far better sound insulation between the floors. The old conversions always had squeaky floor boards. Buy on the top floor of a conversion if you can cope with the stairs. I'm disabled so that's not possible for me. Hence new builds and lifts.

2. In a conversion check the lease to see if carpets are the norm. They deaden a lot of the noise. In an old flat replacing the carpets with laminate or wood can be a disaster for neighbours, however some leases forbid this.

3. In new builds with balconies noise can become a major problem in the summer and with parties. Some have sound proofed windows and balcony doors that keep some of the noise from coming through. If there is a party and a balcony smokers will congregate there and the sound of the music will come though. I seen drunks having fights on balconies in my block and also urinating down into the balcony underneath.

4. Check to see if the new build has a resident porter or concierge. If so, they may help to keep the noise down. If there is no one there, it can be harder for action to be taken to evict people.

5. Does the new build have a long corridor like a hotel or a lobby on each floor to just a few flats. Design like this is important. We have 2 versions in our developement. Some flats open from their front doors into a corridor and get a lot of noise from passing neighbours. Ours opens from the lift into a lobby serving just a few flats. Then each flat has it's own lobby. I get no noise from the lift area.

6. Who lives in the new build. Is it all BTL, are the flats rented out on a weekly or daily bases for visitors and parties, are they all owned by people who live abroad and are rarely there.

Edited by Flopsy

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Buy somewhere with stable neighbours.

Buying new build might get you lots of rented neighbours which could be more noisy.

In theory older people are quieter.

..Because they are dead? Though the smell might give it away.:)

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. Occasionally the odd gerdushhhh of a turd hitting the water was thown in for good measure.

I know this is a serious post Doctor Gloom, but your post has sent me into fits of hysterics.

pmsl as they say on Facebook lol

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I looked at the sound regulations several years ago.

I seem to remember that the new sound regulations were going to make it compulsory for all new builds to have an acoustic sound test; but, they received such a backlash from the housebuilders that a messy compromise was hashed out. Basically a new standard was set that builders had to follow, the acoustic test was scrapped.

However, I also seem to recall that conversions were still required to have an acoustic sound test. Recent conversions therefore may prove of interest to you. You should be able to ask to see the acoustic sound test report.

If you would like more information, there is a good section in "The Housbuilders Bible" by Mark Brinkley. Pop in any good local book store and have a quick read :)

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I looked at the sound regulations several years ago.

I seem to remember that the new sound regulations were going to make it compulsory for all new builds to have an acoustic sound test; but, they received such a backlash from the housebuilders that a messy compromise was hashed out. Basically a new standard was set that builders had to follow, the acoustic test was scrapped.

However, I also seem to recall that conversions were still required to have an acoustic sound test. Recent conversions therefore may prove of interest to you. You should be able to ask to see the acoustic sound test report.

If you would like more information, there is a good section in "The Housbuilders Bible" by Mark Brinkley. Pop in any good local book store and have a quick read :)

Sound test definitely compulsory for modern conversions. Done by specialistic firm and tested before laying of carpet etc

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These old houses converted into flats never have sound insulation, when do you ever see sound insulation costs even mentioned on these property porn programmes? Never, all they ever talk about is a quick turnaround/ low budget/ pwofit. They never do these things properly, because it's not in their interest to do so. Plasterboard partitions to make one bedroom into two, a lick of paint, decking in the garden to add the ultimate class, that's what has been pumped out over the last decade. Glad I don't live in a city, but I still take offense to people being crammed in - especially in an unsuitable way by greedy old gits who should be doing proper jobs.

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These old houses converted into flats never have sound insulation, when do you ever see sound insulation costs even mentioned on these property porn programmes? Never, all they ever talk about is a quick turnaround/ low budget/ pwofit. They never do these things properly, because it's not in their interest to do so. Plasterboard partitions to make one bedroom into two, a lick of paint, decking in the garden to add the ultimate class, that's what has been pumped out over the last decade. Glad I don't live in a city, but I still take offense to people being crammed in - especially in an unsuitable way by greedy old gits who should be doing proper jobs.

Seem to recall one show, a conversion having tons of sound insulation put in. Might have been a Beeny show, Thing is on some Victorian conversions it can "destroy" some original features. I looked at doing it in a large terrace (before the extra regulations came in).

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New builds should be best and anything with concrete floors.

Problem is for example a hole the size of a £2 coin will double the perception of loudness of sounds you hear from next door, or if the walls are not isolated from each other

you get flanking sounds like with water pipes but much worse.

I could never live somewhere without good STC ratings, life's too short to live it in abject misery during your time at home.

Edited by northwestsmith2

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SarahBell:

Buy somewhere with stable neighbours.

Buying new build might get you lots of rented neighbours which could be more noisy.

In theory older people are quieter.

Except when the telly's on.

I'd rather listen to morse until -10pm better than drum and base

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At last, something I know about. I work in acoustics.

Part E test still happen, you either have to have a test for airborne sound transfer between adjacent dwellings walls and floors, as well as an impact sound test for floors where needed OR the builder can build to a 'Robust Detail' thats a detail supplied by a certain company which, if built to that standard, suggests that the wall or floor should pass part E.

Problems arise in that you only need to test a sample of like constructed properties (sometimes all at the start of a big development) and in the case of Robust detail, small errors in construction can lead to large reductions in sound isolation performance. Overall the situation is better than it was but things still need improving.

In any of these cases, the specification does not take into case an idiot with a large subwoofer next door cranked up loud - this will still annoy you.

In short, new build post 2003 should be better than most older properties

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I've known conversions of old properties done around 2006 where the sound proofing was just not done at all, If there were any rules they certainly weren't adhered to. Proft up by 2%, property unusable. Clever folks these property developers.

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I've known conversions of old properties done around 2006 where the sound proofing was just not done at all, If there were any rules they certainly weren't adhered to. Proft up by 2%, property unusable. Clever folks these property developers.

Its always pot luck and makes me wonder why anyone buys a flat! I think if I bought a flat I'd wanted to carry out a proper noise test, or stop overnight or something. and even check out the neighbours. At least with renting you can walk away.

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