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  • Charlotte Haye

Pre-Completion Sound Testing – The What, Why And How

When a building is being constructed there’s a lot of paperwork and moving parts involved – and that’s before you do any of the physical building work! The biggest thing here is the permits that need to be obtained, and that the finished structure will need approval from the local council. During their inspection, the council will check that the building meets all of the relevant regulations – including around sound. To make sure a building doesn’t fail at this, the almost final hurdle, it needs to go through a pre-completion sound test.

What Is Pre-Completion Sound Testing?

Pre-completion sound testing is a requirement for all residential building works, found in part E of building regulations. It applies to all new residential properties, including houses and flats, but also care homes, hotels and student accommodation, and it applies to new-builds as well as conversions to residential. It ensures that sound transfer between dwellings is kept at appropriate levels.

This part of the regulation puts the responsibility for the property meeting the relevant sound regulations squarely on the developer or builder of the property. They must ensure the property is tested, and that the tests are done at the right stage of development for the most accurate results. This is when the property is complete, but not occupied yet.

How Is Pre-Completion Sound Testing Done?

Proper pre-completion sound testing is done according to the outline in part E of the building regulations. This outline states that sound insulation tests must be undertaken:

  • Once building work is completed

  • Without furnishings, carpets or floor installations

This means the tests will be unbiased and an accurate reflection of the property’s acoustic performance. Sound insulation tests are done in several separate elements of a property and must be carried out by an accredited testing body, which will then publish the results online so that they can be viewed by the local building control office. Sound insulation tests are split into two types:

  • Airborne tests

  • Impact tests

Airborne tests measure sound that’s transmitted through the air between walls or ceilings, while impact tests are measured by using a tapping machine to make controlled impacts on a floor and measure how the sounds travel.

Testing is carried out to 10% of the properties in a development and for the selected properties, the tests are carried out in different ways according to the property type.

Houses: Two airborne insulation tests need to be done at separate points in the property. If there are separating walls between bedrooms of the adjoined houses or living rooms, these have to be tested.

Flats: One complete set of floor tests is most important here, including 2 impact and 2 airborne tests on the separating floor, as well as one set of wall tests (2 airborne tests).

The target they are aiming for is for new buildings to provide a minimum airborne sound resistance of DhTw+Ctr>45dB, and a maximum impact measures sound level of LnTw<62dB, although the requirements are relaxed slightly for conversions.

What Happens If A Building Fails?

Of course, the ideal situation is for every new build and domestic conversion to pass, but that isn’t always the case. Buildings can and do fail their pre-completion sound tests. If they do, then the building company have the chance to do any remedial work needed to get a pass on a retest. If a property fails multiple times, then building control can request more extensive testing on other areas of the property to ensure accurate results.

At Auricl we provide a wide range of acoustic surveys and testing for building firms across the UK. Our experts can conduct full pre-completion sound testing and provide tailored advice at the planning stage to ensure your buildings pass inspection.

Auricl is fully registered with the Association of Noise Consultants registration scheme, which provides the necessary accreditation for acoustic testing of a variety of building types, including:

- Residential

- Hotels, student accommodation, care homes, BTR

- BREEAM Hea05 (all building types)

- Schools

- Hospitals

If you would like more information, just get in touch with the team today.

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