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Soundproofing 1930s semi after neighbour's extension


JMPS
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Hi

Our neighbours recently had a pretty significant single storey extension built, going out a few metres at the back and wrapping round the side.  With that new space at the rear, they opened it up to include the old back room and kitchen, so they have one large open plan area.  This new open plan area has tiled flooring, and there are very few soft furnishings as they have a long line of bi-folds out to the back, so not really suited to curtains.

Prior to the work being done, we could hear very little indeed from their side - the old back room was smaller, carpeted, and had curtains.  Since the work though, the noise is pretty awful - some of it (for instance furniture being moved and scraping the floor) seems to reverberate around their side, but still comes through as sound rather than shaking, etc.  Just general conversations are incredibly loud too though - we can often make out exactly what is being said at a fairly normal level of conversation, and if they're being louder (having guests around, etc) then it's difficult to even watch TV as the sound from next door overpowers the sound from the TV.

We raised it as an issue after the work was all completed and we realised what it was like, and they installed some slatted wood soundproofing panels to the walls on their side, and although that had an effect to a degree, the noise is still too problematic to put up with.

Has anyone else been in this position and managed to resolve it satisfactorily?  I've looked on loads of sites where people offer all kinds of solutions, but it seems pretty hit and miss.  It often appears that it's pretty much guesswork as to how to resolve things, and a lot of money can be spent without any real improvement. 

Are there specialists out there that can actually pinpoint accurately what the issue is, and then guarantee a fix?

Any help would be greatly appreciated,

JMPS

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If you can hear low volume conversations, that suggests a pretty direct route for sound - think airborne rather than structure-borne, to begin with at least.

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1 hour ago, JMPS said:

...

Are there specialists out there that can actually pinpoint accurately what the issue is, and then guarantee a fix?

...

 

Not what you want to hear, but the answer is likely:  No. You have worked out that the answer is likely to be based on guess work: I agree.

 

Years of dealing with complaints about student noise (in student houses and their Lancastrian neighbours), and  working with both parties to try and resolve the issues raised makes me very sympathetic ideed to your problem.  People - on both sides of a dividing wall - often simply don't realise how the  noise they make transmits into their neighbours' properties. 

One thing I did that seemed to help was to get one person from each house / room/ flat / to visit the others' home and listen. Not an easy task to co-ordinate, but it worked - sometimes. Students would realise how noisy they sometimes were, and ordinary folk who happened to live next door would be surprised at the way (for example) a baby's cries were easily picked up in the student abode. In other words noise - if there is any-  travels both ways. Its people's reaction to the same noise that differs - greatly. Lancaster has some large hospitals : night shift nurses need their sleep during the day. According to some nurses, students by all accounts being reasonably quiet were not seen as quiet by the nurses.

 

The key thing to do is to keep working together to solve the problem. And that is very a challenging thing to do.

Good luck.

Ian

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As Jack said, if you can hear low volume conversations then it will be airborne,  If you can hear them, they they will be able to hear you.  You need to get some measurement done across the whole spectrum, from their house to yours and vice versa. Part E of Building Regs - The minimum level of airborne sound resistance for dividing walls or floors between homes is 45dB (decibels) in new builds and 43dB in conversion projects. 

 

For impact sound such as footsteps, jumping and dropped objects, including furniture being moved a maximum impact sound transmittance level of 62dB is set for floors and stairs in new builds. A maximum of 64dB is set for conversion projects

Edited by Adrian Walker
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Thanks folks.

 

Adrian - does Part E actually relate to just domestic alterations?  I can't figure out if it applies only to new buildings and work where a building has been converted from business use to domestic.  If it's already domestic, and it's simply been altered a bit, does that still fall under the regs?

 

It's very tricky.  We get on with the neighbours pretty well and don't want to cause any upset, but we really need to get this sorted.  They've already done a bit themselves by adding additional soundproofing to the walls, but it's still bad.

 

I fear we're just going to have to stump up and do some pretty significant work to the walls, crossing our fingers that it has an impact.  Not great.

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17 minutes ago, JMPS said:

Thanks folks.

 

Adrian - does Part E actually relate to just domestic alterations?  I can't figure out if it applies only to new buildings and work where a building has been converted from business use to domestic.  If it's already domestic, and it's simply been altered a bit, does that still fall under the regs?

 

It's very tricky.  We get on with the neighbours pretty well and don't want to cause any upset, but we really need to get this sorted.  They've already done a bit themselves by adding additional soundproofing to the walls, but it's still bad.

 

I fear we're just going to have to stump up and do some pretty significant work to the walls, crossing our fingers that it has an impact.  Not great.

Whether Part E applies to an extension is a little tricky. I had a quick look at the regs and found that it does apply if there has been "a material change of use" to a building, and that includes where: "the building, which contains at least one room for residential purposes, contains a greater or lesser number of such rooms than it did previously". So if they added a room to their house for residential purposes, then it would apply I think, at least to that additional room. But I suggest you go through that document with a fine tooth comb and checking each cross reference to the schedules until you understand the applicability properly. It is legal analysis, but can be done by anyone with patience and a desire to read the doc several times.

 

Alternatively, pick the phone up to building control and ask them. You can do so anonymously so as not to stir sh!t... yet.

 

It is possible to insulate a party wall very effectively against airborne sound. I've just done it along our party wall after being fed up of hearing my neighbours so much. It just requires sacrificing some of your room space. What are the dimensions of the room of your house which is affected. Can you post a sketch showing a layout.

Edited by Adsibob
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14 minutes ago, Adsibob said:

Whether Part E applies to an extension is a little tricky. I had a quick look at the regs and found that it does apply if there has been "a material change of use" to a building, and that includes where: "the building, which contains at least one room for residential purposes, contains a greater or lesser number of such rooms than it did previously". So if they added a room to their house for residential purposes, then it would apply I think, at least to that additional room. But I suggest you go through that document with a fine tooth comb and checking each cross reference to the schedules until you understand the applicability properly. It is legal analysis, but can be done by anyone with patience and a desire to read the doc several times.

 

Alternatively, pick the phone up to building control and ask them. You can do so anonymously so as not to stir sh!t... yet.

 

It is possible to insulate a party wall very effectively against airborne sound. I've just done it along our party wall after being fed up of hearing my neighbours so much. It just requires sacrificing some of your room space. What are the dimensions of the room of your house which is affected. Can you post a sketch showing a layout.

 

Thank you for those additional comments and observation, at least JMPS now has a plan. Sketch or photo would be useful for us all.

 

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1 hour ago, JMPS said:

Thanks folks.

 

Adrian - does Part E actually relate to just domestic alterations?  I can't figure out if it applies only to new buildings and work where a building has been converted from business use to domestic.  If it's already domestic, and it's simply been altered a bit, does that still fall under the regs?

 

It's very tricky.  We get on with the neighbours pretty well and don't want to cause any upset, but we really need to get this sorted.  They've already done a bit themselves by adding additional soundproofing to the walls, but it's still bad.

 

I fear we're just going to have to stump up and do some pretty significant work to the walls, crossing our fingers that it has an impact.  Not great.

 

Yes, Part E covers the resistance to the passage if sound in domestic building. See comments from Adsibob who has looked at it in a bit more details. 
 

Edited by Adrian Walker
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Thanks again everyone - really useful.

 

I'll pull together a simple layout and post it up over the weekend.

 

My wife spoke to an audio survey company this afternoon, and they quoted around £350-£400 to do a sound survey (which would obviously require access to next door so they can make some noises), after which they'd make some recommendations.  It was reading comments from people who've had this sort of thing done that rang a few alarm bells for me when I was reading up about it - the findings often seem to be fairly obvious (you can hear noises from next door), and the recommendations often seem to be somewhat limited (the more you spend, the better your chances, but no guarantees).

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3 hours ago, JMPS said:

Thanks again everyone - really useful.

 

I'll pull together a simple layout and post it up over the weekend.

 

My wife spoke to an audio survey company this afternoon, and they quoted around £350-£400 to do a sound survey

 

If you live locally to me (Wimborne, Dorset) I might be able to help

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I see they have removed their chimney breast, they consist of a lot of mass and bricks in 1930's semis and if not removed carefully can increase sound passing through a party wall. Just a thought, also is your fireplace open or bricked up?

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23 hours ago, JMPS said:

Thanks Adrian.  Unfortunately not - I'm in the North West.

 

I've attached a couple of pictures to show the changes.

After.JPG

Before.JPG

Shame you didn’t soundproof the party wall at the time you extended.

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Our fireplace isn't bricked up, but it has a gas fire in it.  

 

Unfortunately sound problems weren't even a consideration for ourselves or our neighbours when the work was being done - disappointing that the builders, architects, etc didn't raise it.

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