Author Topic: Sound Insulation Part E Regulations  (Read 20806 times)

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rj1423ah

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Sound Insulation Part E Regulations
« on: March 07, 2013, 10:09:23 am »
I am currently in a dispute with Barratt and NHBC over the perennial problem of poor sound insulation. We have a problem whereby the main family bathroom and an en-suite a directly above the lounge. With sound insulation being so poor in the property this basically means you have no privacy when visiting the bathroom as just about everything can be heard downstairs!!!

Apart from poor construction I believe the problem may be caused by the fact that they have passed the waste pipes directly down through the building rather than outside. Although they claim they are lagged it's doubtfull as some water can be heard running down them.

The blessed NHBC have done very little to help. They simply looked at the builders design, agreed it was ok and said that's it. I pointed out to them that considering they did the building control on the property that amounts to very little effort and would like it independelty tested but they won't budge.

I need help with 2 things:
1. Does part E1 apply to domestic dwellings? NHBC claim only E2 applies and will not therefore consider impact sound

2. They built to Robust Details and therefore refuse to run a test. Bizarely they say even if they tested and it failed that wouldn't be enough to prove the property is deficient because of flanking sound...which does rather beg the question why they ever bother with pre-completion testing

They are now pointing me to my policy and trying to walk away from the problem. Any advice appreciated.




Philofacts

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Sound Insulation Barratt Homes Part E Building Regulations
« Reply #1 on: March 08, 2013, 09:25:22 am »
Poor sound insulation is an increasing problem with new homes. It is worse and more common in timber frame construction.

Sound insulation for internal soil vent pipes (SVP) is required in the NHBC standards under 8.1  S8 (C), which states:
"Sound insulation should be provided for soil pipes passing through habitable parts of dwellings."
It requires 25mm thick plasterboard to the boxing with the pipe wrapped in a minimum, 25mm thick sound insulating material. 
It is easy to check this, make a small say 25mm hole in the boxing and measure the board thickness. 
Push the tape measure or small stick in the hole and scrape the pipe.
The stick should have traces of insulation on it if insulation is installed.  If this is not the case then you can claim under the warranty as NHBC standards have clearly not been followed.

Building Regulations Part E state:
"E1 Dwelling houses, flats and rooms for residential purposes shall be designed and constructed in such a way that they provide reasonable resistance to sound from other parts of the same building and from adjoining buildings.

E2 Dwelling houses, flats and rooms for residential purposes shall be designed and constructed in such a way that:
(a) internal walls between a bedroom or a room containing a water closet, and other rooms; and
(b) internal floors
provide reasonable resistance to sound. "


It can be seen that both E1 and E2 apply to residential dwellings.
The NHBC, in this case also responsible for Building Control, should realise that compliance of both E1 and E2 is required and as far as I can see, no distinction is made about the source of sound or how it is transmitted be it airborne or impact.

Regarding the use of Robust Details, these do allow the builder to avoid sound testing.
However, the robust details are designed to ensure compliance.
If the work has not been carried out fully and to the standards required in the robust detail(s) and a sound test proves this, remedial works would be required to rectify the failure to meet Part E of the Building Regulations and also therefore, the NHBC standards in my opinion.

It beggars belief that Barratt would claim that a failed sound test could be explained away as being caused by flanking sound.
Whilst this can be a cause of failure, measures should have been incorporated in the design and construction to limit and prevent flanking sound transfer.
To expect a new home to fail a sound test does not inspire confidence in both the quality of construction or the effectiveness of sound insulation in a Barratt new home.

To take this further, you need to do some investigative work.
It would be useful if you could get hold of the design drawings and the Robust Details your home is allegedly to be built to. An independent sound test may also be required to support your claim.
Despite your concerns, your best chance for a favourable outcome is via an NHBC warranty claim.

If you are unhappy with the service you have received from Barratt, you can make a complaint under the Consumer Code for Homebuilders.
Be sure to fill in your HBF new home Consumer Satisfaction Survey accordingly too!
Barratt make a big deal about their five star rating.
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rj1423ah

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Re: Part E Regulations
« Reply #2 on: March 09, 2013, 05:25:59 pm »
Thanks for your advice Philofacts.

The point about flanking sound was made by NHBC which makes it even more astounding. I don't have much confidence in the claims investigator as he didn't seem to know about the regulations when he visited and he is also the one to claimed E1 doesn't apply. Nor did he have an answer when I queried why they bother testing at all if failures can be explained away by flanking sound. I would hope they take this into account but who knows.

I'm going to insist they conduct a sound test & see what they say. All they've done so far is refer me to the policy document. Barratt are going to come round next week to check for air gaps between the floor and walls upstairs but I doubt it will resolve the problem.



Philofacts

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Re: Part E Regulations
« Reply #3 on: March 11, 2013, 07:08:56 am »
The NHBC inspectors are all different, some may not know the regulations as well as others!
I can confirm this inspector is WRONG!
A sound test is the only way to resolve this issue,as it will demonstrate and prove Robust Details have, or have not been followed.

Barratt investigating gaps at the floor/wall junctions is a good place to start.
I expect they will find a few from what you have said, especially at pipes.
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rj1423ah

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Re: Part E Regulations
« Reply #4 on: May 02, 2013, 04:19:15 pm »

I feel I'm baning my head against a brick wall here. The NHBC inspector thinks the design if fine but wont let me have a copy so I can get a second opinion (hiding behind copyright issues) and says sealing the pathways is the only thing he can enforce, although Barratt are resisting.

I may well have to get my own tests done to prove it one way or the other.

Philofacts

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Re: Part E Regulations
« Reply #5 on: May 03, 2013, 08:30:44 am »
It is quite correct that giving you copies of the Robust Details and house builder's working drawings would give rise to Copyright issues. 

However, you should be able to get a copy of the sound test certificate.  This appertains to your property and you have a right to see it.

You should raise a Subject Access Request with either Barratt or the NHBC.

In the meantime, you may also find this website interesting:
Barratt do not care
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rj1423ah

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Re: Sound Insulation Part E Regulations
« Reply #6 on: May 04, 2013, 03:57:30 pm »

They're good links, thanks.

The NHBC inspector reckons Barratt just don't need to produce any kind of test certificate because they claim to build to Robust Details. I thought they still had to test 10% of all house types so should be able to produce results from a similar plot at least?


Philofacts

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Re: Sound Insulation Part E Regulations
« Reply #7 on: May 06, 2013, 09:24:48 am »
You will find the whole website is full of useful information both before you buy a new home or if you encounter problems afterwards.

The NHBC are correct, no test is required if the house builder built a registered plot using Robust Details.
I could find no requirement in Part E Building regulations for the testing of 10% of each house type built.  However, Robust Details Limited state that:
"We then continue to monitor the Robust Details by sampling plots registered with us in respect of the construction and performance of the separating walls and floors. We employ specialist acoustic consultants nationwide to undertake this monitoring and reporting on our behalf"

Just because a new home is registered as being built to Robust Details, it does not mean that the required detail standards have been met.
The detail may not have been adhered to or applied in every new home.

You could have your home independently sound tested, at least then you would have proof one way or another whether Part E has been complied with.

By the way the Building Regulations do cover flanking sound. See Section 2 and 3 of Part E
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rj1423ah

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Re: Sound Insulation Part E Regulations
« Reply #8 on: May 07, 2013, 06:13:43 pm »
So here's the latest from NHBC:

"Your internal floors, both first and second floor, are not built to Robust details.  These are a set of standards to reduce the transmission of sound through party walls and floors. They do not apply to intermediate floors within a dwelling.
Therefore, Annex E of Approved Document E  is not relevant.

My report is based upon Section 5 of Approved Document E 2003 which applies to Internal walls and floors for new buildings and Section 0 of the same document, para 0.9 which refers to Requirement E2, protection against sound within a dwelling house."

The point about Robust Details is a new one on me - have I completely misunderstood what RD is for? Or is the inspector wrong?

If he's right, doesn't that mean they should have completed PCT on my property?


Philofacts

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Re: Sound Insulation Part E Regulations
« Reply #9 on: May 08, 2013, 08:43:42 am »
Part E and sound insulation can be complicated and open to misinterpretation.

Given that I now understand you are talking about sound insulation within parts of your own home, and not through a party wall or floor, then I would tend to agree with the NHBC inspector.

E2 does refers to sound transfer within a dwelling, but states that whilst testing is not requirement, the construction should be such that provide the laboratory sound testing values set out in the table. This would appear to indicate that Robust Details would be one way of achieving compliance as would compliance with the NHBC standards. I am not sure if there are  Robust Details cover instances other than for Party Walls and Floors.

As I said in my first reply, your problem would appear to me to be a non-compliance of NHBC standards rather than anything to do with Part E, or sound testing.  The only way to prove it one way or another is to make holes in the plasterboard and see if there is sound insulation quilt in the SVP ducting, holes through the floor and within the ceiling void.

Either Barratt or an  NHBC inspector should now visit your property.

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rj1423ah

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Re: Sound Insulation Part E Regulations
« Reply #10 on: May 08, 2013, 04:38:26 pm »
Tell me about it, I must have read the regulations several times but it's never entirely clear. It seems E1 does not apply to houses unless it's a semi or terraced. But then not to the floors within the property.

E2 as you mentioned requires no testing - amazing in my view. This basically leaves me with very little room for manoeuvre. Short of arranging my own tests and proving it to be inadequate they're not going to do anything about it. I'll have to weigh up the cost of that vs. rectifying the problem myself.

Testing is quite expensive at £500+. The builders know that, the NHBC knows that and the testers are having a laugh. It all adds to a pretty unsavoury experience.