New Home Owners And Snagging Forum

Advice on buying a brand new home => Snagging and defects => Topic started by: MacedoI on November 28, 2018, 04:58:01 pm

Title: Downstairs noise travelling through windows
Post by: MacedoI on November 28, 2018, 04:58:01 pm
Firstly let me introduce myself. My name is Ivo and I just purchased one apartment from Barratt Homes.

Secondly apologies in advance if this is not the right section on the forum to post this.

We moved in less than a month ago and we’ve noticed that we can hear downstairs conversations. Not every word but murmurs. Same with music. We don't think the downstairs neighbours are loud at all, we suspect something else might be wrong.

Surprisingly, the sound seems to be coming from the windows or it's frames.
Ah, worth mentioning that this is happening mainly in the  living room where most of the walls are basically either windows/balcony or glass.

We asked around and few people claim they are experiencing the same thing. One of them actually mentioned that Barratt filled up the frames of his flat with sand?!
Anyway the development is relatively new so someone from Barratt is coming over tomorrow.

I was just wondering if anyone has experienced something similar and whether or not the developer manage to help at all.

Cheers,
Ivo
Title: Re: Downstairs noise travelling through windows
Post by: New Home Expert on November 29, 2018, 10:41:59 am
I've never heard of filling presumably PVCu frames with sand!

I think what you have is "flanking" sound. 
If you are living in a timber frame block fire-stopping (fire socks) around every frame and horizontally, both sides of each floor level are required, not just for sound, but for fire.

I suspect there are gaps in this or it is missing or has fallen away.

If the block is traditional masonry brick and block inner skin, it would need to have cavity insulation to meet standards. again this should help with sound insulation but could be missing on the mainly window wall.


Title: Re: Downstairs noise travelling through windows
Post by: MacedoI on November 29, 2018, 11:39:53 am
Hi. Thanks for the feedback.
The frames are not pvc but metal. And the frames are hollow.
Someone from Barratt came over and he pointed out that metal frames can be less efficient when it comes to block noise. They said they will look into it.

I don't think this is timber block. It's a pretty much standard brick block.

You are probably right re the problem being about flanking sound travelling to the flat. Also, when we hear it, most of the times if you go to the balcony you most likely not hear anything, just inside.

Would you say it's easy to determine whether or not there are gaps or insulation missing on the window frames?

It's still under the NHBC warranty and the developer representative is coming over today to evaluate the situation. Not sure how he'll do that - there'll be no noise if there's nobody downstairs.

In any case it's just odd and we are a bit afraid they just won't fix it.
Title: Re: Downstairs noise travelling through windows
Post by: New Home Expert on December 01, 2018, 07:24:23 am
You could have an air tightness test and also an acoustic test carried out to determine where the fault lies.
Title: Re: Downstairs noise travelling through windows
Post by: MacedoI on December 02, 2018, 09:55:04 pm
Thanks for the advice.
Should I get Barratt to run these tests or can I get them don via a third party company?
In which case any recommendations are welcome.
Title: Re: Downstairs noise travelling through windows
Post by: MacedoI on January 17, 2019, 12:16:59 pm
Still waiting for Barratt to send over engineers to evaluate the situation and do tests.
Should I get in touch with NHBC so they know about it?
Title: Re: Downstairs noise travelling through windows
Post by: New Home Expert on January 18, 2019, 06:03:04 am
It is always a good idea.
Say you are still waiting for Barratt to act and copy the letter to Barratt.
Title: Re: Downstairs noise travelling through windows
Post by: MacedoI on January 22, 2019, 06:21:51 pm
Thank you.
Fortunately few hours after my post they came back to me with a plan of action.
A contractor is coming over tomorrow to diagnose the situation. Not sure what that means exactly but I’ll wait and see.
Title: Re: Downstairs noise travelling through windows
Post by: MacedoI on January 28, 2019, 08:44:25 am
Good morning.
So couple of Barratt representatives came over. One of them I believe was/is part of the building’s engineering team.
They were quite quick to diagnose the problem. My apartment’s window frames are somehow "shared" with my neighbours. Meaning the framing starts with the floor below and end with the flat above. I think this setup is fairly common.

In any case they said that the installation could be faulty and no noise should be travelling up or down. Finally they said sometime this week they’ll get back to me with a resolution which is likely to be done from the outside of the apartment.
As it was another company installing the windows. which is likely to be the one to take action.

Not sure what to make of all this to be honest. I suppose I’ll wait for their update this week.
Title: Re: Downstairs noise travelling through windows
Post by: New Home Expert on January 30, 2019, 09:09:07 am
That is good news.
Acknowledged the problem and given you and undertaking to do something about it.

Title: Re: Downstairs noise travelling through windows
Post by: MacedoI on April 23, 2019, 06:05:13 pm
A bit of an update:
MPrice (the window contractor) came over to inspect the flat and windows.
It was nothing more than a formality as they quickly released a report stating the windows were installed "as per the spec". As far as they’re concerned they have no liability.
Meaning Barratt are are still dealing with it and I was promised an update this week.

To reiterate here’ are the main problems:
I can hear loud conversations through the frames even though I can't do it on the balcony.
If the upstairs/downstairs neighbour so much opens/closes the windows (they are quite sturdy) I can hear it
If the upstairs neighbour bumps into the frame with the vacuum cleaner whilst vacuuming I can hear it

First point is the most annoying. Second and third points are just inconveniences.

At this point and if I don't get answers  this week I was considering bringing this up to NHBC.
I thought about involving a solicitor but perhaps that’s a bit precocious for the time being.

Any  Other advice?
Title: Re: Downstairs noise travelling through windows
Post by: New Home Expert on April 24, 2019, 10:36:55 am
I would involve the NHBC straight away and get a solicitor involved too.
If the NHBC get a whiff of this going legal, they may be more sympathetic to getting Barratt to fix the issue.

It would seem it won't be just your property but the same problem will be elsewhere too costing those involved Barratt/NHBC/Window company money to rectify.
Title: Re: Downstairs noise travelling through windows
Post by: MacedoI on April 24, 2019, 11:13:23 am
Thank you for your answers - much appreciated.
They are sending another engineer next week but I’ll ring NHBC in the meantime.
The main reason behind not involving a solicitor so far is that might be misconstrued as "threatening" which is something I’d like to avoid.

You are quite right - this is affecting other apartments. Once I brought it up other people confirmed they experience similar problems. However noise is relative. Some people might just get used to it, specially if you are a tenant and can't be bothered. But definitely there’s been similar complaints.

Title: Re: Downstairs noise travelling through windows
Post by: New Home Expert on April 25, 2019, 05:40:02 am
Do you think you will get anywhere without threatening?
"the squeaky wheel gets the oil!"
Title: Re: Downstairs noise travelling through windows
Post by: MacedoI on May 01, 2019, 10:38:10 am
Thanks - never heard that one before but it makes sense.
Another engineer came over today representing Barratt. He brought paperwork that allegedly proves that airborne sound checks were done across the development and they are NHBC/uk law compliant.
As far as he’s aware the tests are done and passed. Think the limit is like 74db or something like that. Not sure if they test for flanking noise too - should have asked him that.

Nevertheless he mentioned he’s willing to come over again and get access to the flat below mine so he could do few tests on his own.
He also mentioned that if they ever had to fix it, the resolution would be fill up the metal window frames with sand or some sort of memory foam. He said that normally helps.

So now I’m waiting for NHBC to come back to me but can’t help but wonder why aren’t those frames filled to begin with.

Title: Re: Downstairs noise travelling through windows
Post by: MacedoI on May 21, 2019, 06:26:16 pm
A bit of an update.
Barratt sending an ”accoustic engineer” over to do sound tests by next week.

They suggested that filling the frames with sand or accoustic/memory foam resolves the sound problem. Anyone has any experience with this? Would that work?
Title: Re: Downstairs noise travelling through windows
Post by: MacedoI on May 29, 2019, 11:37:36 am
Hi all,
Barratt are sending over someone from RBA Acoustics to perform the sound checks.
From what I’ve been reading the minimum values for sound insulation for airborne and impact noise are 45db and 62db respectively.

Apart from this is there anything else I should be on the lookout for? I’ll be present during the tests.
Title: Re: Downstairs noise travelling through windows
Post by: New Home Expert on May 30, 2019, 05:39:04 am
Collusion and fiddling! 
Try to make a note of the readings for each test at the time and compare with those that end up in the report.  Trust no one!
Title: Re: Downstairs noise travelling through windows
Post by: MacedoI on June 10, 2019, 06:16:48 pm
So a couple of RBA Acoustics technicians came over last week to do the sound tests.
I witnessed the whole thing and their main focus was definitely the window area where I have most problems with.

I asked to measure the sound coming from tapping the frames. As a reminder one of the issues is that when someone taps their frames downstairs/upstairs I can hear that tap clearly. They’ve done that and said it’ll be added to the final report which I’m still awaiting for.

Question is though, after going through the Part E regs, I couldn’t find anything written  about this or flanking noise. Would this be measured as airborne noise?

I made it very clear that the fact I can hear the tapping Should be enough reason for remedial actions, however I’m not sure on what basis I can force Barratt to fix it if the tests come out OK.

I’ve been keeping NHBC up to speed with all this and hopefully they can help resolve any dispute I may have with Barratt.
Title: Re: Downstairs noise travelling through windows
Post by: New Home Expert on June 11, 2019, 07:13:07 am
Firstly, I hope Barratt do the right thing and sort this out for you.
Secondly the NHBC dispute resolution service only has around a 57% success rate for buyers.
This is why the statutory New Homes Ombudsman is needed.
Title: Re: Downstairs noise travelling through windows
Post by: MacedoI on June 11, 2019, 02:05:16 pm
Thank you New Home Expert
Is the New Homes Ombudsman live already?
I've done a quick google and I couldn’t find it anywhere so I suspect it’s still being built.

Title: Re: Downstairs noise travelling through windows
Post by: New Home Expert on June 13, 2019, 08:19:33 am
Quick Google will reveal the extensive campaigning I have done over the last 5+ years.
Looks like some of my website articles are 2nd and 4th on page one in Google search now.

It was announced by James Brokenshire on 1st October 2019 and as yet NOTHING further has been done except a re announcement earlier this year.

It is government that is dragging its feet by not making time for this to go through the parliamentary process. At this rate, it will all have to start again with a Labour government, perhaps sooner than later!

You could write to James Brokenshire yourself and demand he gets a wiggle on!
james.brokenshire@communities.gsi.gov.uk
Title: Re: Downstairs noise travelling through windows
Post by: MacedoI on June 19, 2019, 04:46:01 pm
Thank you new home expert.
I’ll be writing that email very shortly.

As expected, the  RBA Acoustics report came through with a passing 52 decibel noise reduction (50 is the minimum).
No mention at all of the tapping issues I kept highlighting.
NHBC said they could help to resolve any disputes. Other that filing for dispute not sure what else I can do now since they are apparently compliant.

Perhaps get my own inspection being carried through but I wonder how can I get access of the downstairs premises.

Any advice?
Title: Re: Downstairs noise travelling through windows
Post by: New Home Expert on June 20, 2019, 10:16:26 am
NHBC dispute resolution only historically has a 57% success rate for buyers. NHBC now no longer publish the details every year.

However, use the process anyway, useful if you then need to go to court.

As for downstairs access for your own sound tests, all you have to do is ask.
If they refuse make lots of noise!