How Many Sound Tests do I require on my Development ?

It can be hard to know how many sound tests you need to undertake on your development to comply with Approved Document E, especially if you have a large development consisting of a large amount of houses and flats. Firstly you need to establish if your project even needs sound testing and if so, how many sound tests you’ll need to do to achieve compliance.

And then there’s the added problem of what you need to do to actually pass the sound insulation testing, this can be especially problematic if you are converting an existing building into residential dwellings. If you click on this link it takes you to our helpful sound testing checklist. This provides some helpful information on how to prepare you building to pass the sound insulation test.

Sound Insulation Testing

What Information is in Approved Document E

To help you prepare for the sound testing on your development, there is a section in Building Regulations called “Approved Document E” Unfortunately; Part E is fairly complicated which makes it quite difficult for the people without a constriction background to accurately interpret. Approved Document E provides details for the resistance to the passage of sound and sound insulation for all types of dwellings such as houses, flats and rooms for residential purposes.

To try and help simplify and translate the text within Approved Document E, and help you establish what you need to test; firstly, the duty of ensuring that appropriate sound insulation testing is carried out falls on the person carrying out the building work; however don’t panic as we can list the exact tests that will be required — as long as we have accurate floor plans. All you need to do is then table our test schedule with your Building Control so you can seek their approval.

There are usually two main categories of buildings that need to be tested. There first category is new purpose built houses, flats and rooms for residential purposes and the second are existing building has a change of use for flats, houses or rooms for residential us — such as hotel rooms. So, for example, a block of new build flats will need to be tested, as will a house converted into flats and an office block converted into a hotel. Currently we are currently seeing a large rise in the amount of office blocks being converted into flats, these also require sound insulation testing.

How Many Dwellings Do I need to Sound Test?

This can be a little more complicated and can be open to interpretation. Approved Document E states that “Building control bodies should stipulate at least one set of sound tests for every ten dwelling houses, flats or rooms for residential purposes in a group or sub-group”; however this is more complex than it seems at first glance, and is often misinterpreted as 10% or 1 in 10 of the dwellings contained within the project.

Approved Document E also has a set of rules around groups and sub-groups for buildings, and if your building (an house to flat conversion, for example) has several different construction types, you may need to carry out more than the one set of sound tests per ten dwellings as stated above.

Groups are determined by the type of property, i.e. houses (including bungalows), flats and rooms for residential purposes are all classed as separate groups. So, for example if your project includes a set of flats and some houses, the houses and flats need to be treated as separate groups and must be tested accordingly. For instance if your development contains a block of four terrace houses and a separate block of four flats, you will need to carry out two airborne sound tests to the terrace houses and four airborne and two impact sound tests to the flats. So instead of the carrying out six tests (as per the 10% rule of thumb) you will need to carry out eight sound tests.

The Sub grouping of buildings are more complex and we advise looking at the floor plans to your project to establish whether your project’s construction type and layout means you’ll need additional sound insulation testing. We are always happy to take a look at your project on an individual basis to help ensure you are booking the correct number of tests and we always send out a full testing schedule detailing which airborne wall/floor and impact tests are required on each project.

Within Approved Document E it specifies which rooms can be tested. Testing is required between living spaces, which includes:

  • Living room
  • Bedrooms
  • Study
  • Dining room
  • Kitchen

Although there isn’t a requirement to undertake sound testing between common within dwellings, if no suitable rooms are available then building control may require still require testing, an example of this could be a stairwell on one side of a party wall and living room and/or bedroom on the other.

What makes up a full Set of Sound Tests?

Generally, a full set of tests is made up of six individual sound tests, consisting of:

  • 2 airborne wall sound tests
  • 2 airborne floor sound tests
  • 2 impact floor sound tests.

This is required where flats have both separating walls and floors. Obviously on house sound testing will only be required to the wall partitions so two airborne wall tests may be enough.

If you require more information please contact us on or click on this link and it will take you to through to our helpful sound testing checklist. This provides some helpful information on how to prepare you building to pass the sound insulation test.

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