Author Topic: New build apartment - building regs legal requirement for underlay (Part E)  (Read 1305 times)

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newflatownerlondon

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To get straight to the point, is it legally enforceable to have a Soft Floor Covering (underlay) for Building Regs Floor Type 1.1C.  As even though the Approved Document E says its ESSENTIAL, my understanding is the only legal part of Part E is meeting the airborne and impact noise tests (or registering with Robust Details).  This is what NHBC advised me, hence they are not forcing the builder to install an underlay - causing me misery in the flat below from impact noise in the flat above. 

A concise summary of the problem is given below, has anyone else had this problem or can advise me what to do as the builder and NHBC wont take the issue any further. 

•   New build flats constructed in England in 2015 with Floor Type 1.1C
•   The Building Regs consider impact noise resistance is compliant if it passes the relevant impact noise test or the building is Robust Details Compliant.
•   The noise testing has passed for impact and airborne.
•   The building regs state that for floor type 1.1C, a soft floor covering is ESSENTIAL.  Soft floor covering is to be 4.5mm thick or meet BS 140-8.  However despite the wording saying ESSENTIAL, it is not a legal requirement of the building regs.  So to be clear, approved document states ESSENTIAL, but is not legally enforceable.
•   There is no underlay in the flat above me, just laminate above the concrete, so the Soft Floor Covering is missing.  But legally NHBC will not force the builder to install a soft floor covering because its not a legal requirement.
•   Outcome: my life is a misery with impact noise of EVERY footstep from the occupants above.

The leasehold wording is not 100% clear stating "good quality underlay or other suitable material"

ANY ADVICE ON THIS MATTER WOULD BE MOST GRATEFULLY RECEIEVD. 



Site carpenter

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To my mind, underlay should not be necessary if the floor/ceiling has correct insulation and sound deadening systems in place.
I suggest you drill a small hole in the ceiling and use an endoscope camera to check for insulation. Your ceiling should be suspended on rubber mounted brackets to stop noise transfer.
Please take care when drilling holes! Water pipes and  high voltage electrical cables are often found in the ceiling space.
If the sound deadening systems are at fault you may well have a case to claim.
Failing that all I can suggest is installing another ceiling on top of existing ceiling using 25mm - 50mm solid foam insulation between the two.
Hope this helps.

Tim Fee Snagging Inspector

Site carpenter

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I just checked the building regs for type 1.1C . It appears that your ceiling is mounted on a wood batten fixed to the concrete floor above.
So please disregard my previous post. I am surprised this system is still in use, a soft covering on the floor above offers the occupant below no guarantees against noise. The occupier above could remove the soft floor covering any time they wanted.
The last ceiling I fitted to concrete floor above, I used rubber mounted bracket's to suspend the ceiling structure. Using this system noise vibration is not transmitted to the ceiling structure.
As I said in my previous post the best remedy may well be to install a new ceiling in the areas where you want to reduce noise.

New Home Expert

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To add the Site Carpenter's replies, if the floor from the flat above is on wooden battens, these should be isolated by rubber mountings, which have been around for sometime.
The suspended ceiling should be fixed to resilient bar and the void in between insulated with a sound-deadening quilt.

As a kindness (not a  requirement) any laminated flooring should be isolated from the shared floor structure.

The crucial thing is whether or not it has been tested or built to robust details. If it is Robust Details, clearly they have not been followed hence the sound transfer problem. So the first thing to do is to have the flat properly and independently sound tested.

Be aware that if your flat is found to not comply, it could open a wave of claims under the warranty from all the other flats in the building, maybe the whole development, so expect the NHBC will try and fight it.

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newflatownerlondon

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Thank you for your replies.  I should have mentioned I removed a down-light and this revealed the cavity space to be completely empty - no insulation at all.  However 1.1C does not require insulation in the cavity. 

I have been quoted £7,000 for independent ceilings which should largely resolve the problem but it disgusts me to have to pay for this having paid £500k for a brand new build flat.  Plus I am concerned it may not totally deal with the impact noise problem as its dealing with the symptoms and not the cause - missing underlay. 

Site carpenter

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I am really sorry to hear this. 1.1 C floors should be banned. Even if builder had put down underlay the new occupant could remove it. This 1.1c system offers the downstairs occupant no security against sound transfer whatsoever.
I have tried to think of cheaper alternatives for you, but there are none. A new ceiling suspended from rubber mounted brackets and an insulation sandwich is the only practical solution. I work in construction and try my best to do a good job, it really annoys me that the industry is being brought into disrepute by a few idiots that put profit before reputation. I don't know how they can sleep at night.

Site carpenter

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I have had a thought, your builder says that your floor type is 1.1c, this is a solid concrete floor. However your builder may have used bison beams on the floor, this requires different sound proofing. Bison beam floors are basically planks of concrete , so you will be able to see the joints above your ceiling. Bison beams have a hollow structure so the sound proofing is different! Please see this download link.


New Home Expert

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Whilst I sympathise, I don't think £7,000 to make your flat both habitable for you and more saleable when the time comes is a small price to pay for your peace and sanity!  £500,000 for a flat is expensive!
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