Last updated: January 9, 2023 at 11:16 am
Part E building regulations are a series of important checks that need to be passed by most buildings. The regulations have been set out to reduce noise transmission between neighbours and even within homes. This allows people to live in flats, terraced homes, and other close spaces without developing tension and resentment.
The documents set out the soundproofing standards for new homes and homes that are being refurbished or converted for different use. Part E is the minimum standard of sound insulation, and it applies to all homes, whether they are flats, rooms, attached or detached homes. Part E building regulations also look at the passage of sound within common areas (like schools or flats).
Once buildings are completed, they must pass part E building regulations in order for them to be rentable or usable. Failing to pass part E building regulations can result in an owner being prosecuted by the Magistrates’ Court.
IN THIS ARTICLE
- 1 Requirement of Part E Building Regulations
- 2 How Are They Tested?
- 3 How to Pass Part E Building Regulations
- 4 Places to Keep an Eye On
- 5 General Soundproofing Tips to Help Reduce Noise
Requirement of Part E Building Regulations
The requirements within part E are divided between airborne and internal sound. This allows the regulations to better reduce the irritation of noise pollution.
The documents define airborne noise as any sound transmitted through the air and the atmosphere, and internal sound (or impact sound) happens when an impact causes a building element to vibrate and bring out its own sound waves – think footsteps or a book dropping on the floor. For these two forms, the minimum level of sound is:
- 45dB for dividing walls or floors between homes for a new build
- 43dB for dividing walls or floors in conversion projects
- 62dB for floors and stairs in new builds
- 64dB in floors and stairs in conversion projects
There are, of course, some exceptions. For example, new detached homes are not required to meet tight acoustic standards. In fact, there is no real one rule for all homes/projects – there’s a lot of nuances.
How Are They Tested?
Pre-completion testing is the most common way of testing the soundproofing of a building. In order to pass the PCT, sound insulation tests have to meet the required airborne and impact insulation levels.
Tests are carried out on both, and failure to meet them can be very costly and will involve updates needing to be made and then re-tested.
How to Pass Part E Building Regulations
There are a few different methods of soundproofing that can help a building to pass part E building regulations.
1. Add More Mass
For impact sound to travel through the material, the element needs to move. By adding more mass to a wall or a floor, you can make the element significantly harder to move. This means that the vibrations will be reduced and, consequently, so will the impact noise. Some of the ways this can be done include:
- Cement board
It is worth noting, though, that a heavy wall will still move – it will just move less than a lighter wall. Inhabitants will still hear low frequencies.
It is not uncommon to live in a home or a flat where you can hear people walking across the floor upstairs, especially in homes that have floors with hardwood or marble floors that have not been converted to a good standard. One way to tackle impact sound caused by footsteps is to decouple the ceiling.
Decoupling involves using a resilient bar system, a suspended MF ceiling, a mute clip system or an independent ceiling. These can be used to decouple the plasterboard from the joists above. This can also be done on the walls, helping to reduce vibration and impact sound.
3. Create an Air-Tight Seal
An air-tight seal can really help to reduce sound pollution. Air will find a way through if there are any gaps, though, so it is important to be very careful when you set one up.
Creating an air-tight seal can help to prevent airborne sounds easily, so long as you know what you’re doing.
Places to Keep an Eye On
There are a few key places that sound is likely to travel through. These sensitive spaces should be assessed carefully before you get tested for your part E building regulations. It is likely that if you haven’t already taken them into consideration, they will be your downfall when it comes to trying to pass part E. The most common paths for noise are:
- Hard floor coverings without insulation material between them and the floorboards
- Service entry holes made for plumbing or wiring
- Chimneys that serve open fireplaces
- Lack of void between ceiling boards and floor joists
- Sockets placed back to back in walls, reducing the structure between them
General Soundproofing Tips to Help Reduce Noise
Any soundproofing will work in your benefit when trying to pass part E building regulations, even in spaces where you wouldn’t expect to need it.
How to Soundproof From Outside Noise
The easiest way to soundproof your home from outside noise is to seal up holes and cracks. Noise will pass through even the smallest gaps in the wall, so using caulk to block up the holes will help to prevent the noise from passing through.
Another method is to tighten up your windows and doors, and, if need be, change them out for higher quality elements with sturdy frames and thick glass. If that isn’t an option, weatherstrip the sides of your doors and windows.
Add insulation to your attic, walls, and floor where needed, even if you already have some insulation. Adding dense insulation can help to reduce impact noise and if you add it meticulously, to all your walls and floors, you should find that it helps greatly in passing your part E regulations.
How to Soundproof From Inside Noise
One of the simplest (and cheapest) ways to add a little extra protection against noise pollution is to add thick carpet in your upstairs rooms. This helps to cushion your steps, preventing the impact that they have on the floorboards.
You can also reduce noise travelling from room to room by sealant around outlets and switches to prevent any sound from passing through. This is not dissimilar to creating an air-tight seal.