Soundproofing protected structures: What guidance does Part-E (Sound) of the Building Regulations 2014 provide?
Soundproofing residential dwelling is subject to building regulations. The general scope of the Building Regulations Part-E Sound is to ensure that separating walls and floors between dwellings achieve reasonable levels of sound insulation to protect individuals against excessive noise transmission emanating from adjoining buildings, or from different parts of the same building (in the case of apartments). Regulation E-1 of Part-E sets out the required sound reduction level to be achieved by a separating element (walls & floors); compliance with Part-E is achieved by meeting the minimum acoustic performance standards.
What type of buildings does part e apply to?
The Regulations of Part-E apply specifically to:
- New dwellings and extensions which adjoin other buildings and;
- Works involving a material change of use that results in that building, or part thereof, becoming used as one of more dwellings.
Part-E does not apply to any other type of construction project, including hotels; the requirements only address residential dwellings.
What about protected structures?
Protected Structures which are identified as having cultural significance or special interests and that are listed on a record of Protected Structures are treated differently in Part-E. In the case of material altercations of changes of use to a protected structure, modification to the building fabric may not always be appropriate.
As such, achieving the airborne & impact sound insulation performance requirements as stipulated in Part-E may not be achievable due to the original design and construction of the building, or depending on the appropriateness or feasibility in making alterations to the structure having. In such cases, a relaxation of Part-E requirements may be granted by the Local Building Control Authority.
What should I do when soundproofing a protected structure then ?
The recommended approach described in TGD Part-E is summarised as follows:
- Establish the existing/in-situ acoustic performance. A sound insulation test should be carried out n accordance with Section 2 of TGD Part-E. The build-up of the existing structure should also be established.
- Seek expert acoustic advise. Provisions for best practicable means of improving the current situation should be sought where the performance standards are unlikely to be achieved. Any and all implement measures intended for improving the situation should be fit for purpose and should avoid damaging, or otherwise creating the potential for damage to the special interest of the protect structure.
What is the minimum performance for soundproofing a protected structure then?
Re-testing of the treated structure may then be carried out to verify the improvement in the treated structure. Notwithstanding, TGD Part-E does not define a minimum performance threshold, or a relaxed performance value in cases where the requirements cannot be achieved under normal circumstances; this is where TGD Part-E falls short. In cases of very poor in-situ sound insulation performance of a protected structure, the privacy and quality of living of future occupants can be seriously jeopardised. In any case, an acoustic consultant should be appointed as a best practice measure to ensure that the structure in question is indeed fit for purpose.