Pre-completion sound insulation testing to Approved Document E and Part E of the Building Regulations

20 April 2022 by Chris Anderson, Principal Consultant

What is ADE?

Approved Document E, or ADE, is a document that provides practical guidance with respect to the requirements of Part E in Schedule 1 to the Building Regulations 2010 for England and Wales. It includes the requirements for sound insulation between rooms for residential purposes, houses and flats, along with details of how they should be tested. The exception to this is when the constructions comply with a set of reliable designs known as Robust Details, whereupon testing is not required.

Who should arrange for SI Testing to be carried out?

The person carrying out the building work should arrange for sound insulation (SI) testing to be carried out by a test body with appropriate 3rd party accreditation, including the Association of Noise Consultants (ANC) registration scheme, to which Spectrum are accredited.

What does pre-completion SI Testing involve?

Pre-completion SI testing should be carried out between rooms with a common separating wall or floor, and involves the following:

  • airborne sound insulation testing across separating walls and floors and
  • impact sound insulation testing across separating floors.

Airborne sound insulation testing involves generating high levels of noise in the source room and checking that the reduction in sound level to the receiver room meets the required standard.

Impact sound insulation testing involves striking a floor surface in the source room with a set of calibrated mechanical hammers (tapping machine) and then checking that the resulting sound level in the room below meets the required standard.

When should pre-completion SI Testing be undertaken?

Pre-completion SI testing should be carried out as part of the construction process once the building is essentially complete, apart from decoration. Impact SI tests should be carried out without soft coverings (e.g. carpet, foam backed vinyl) on the floor, although there are some specific exceptions to this (see below).

What site conditions are required for pre-completion testing?

In order to get the best test results with the minimum of delays, the following measures should be taken:-

  • Ensure there will be no other trades, roadworks or internal or external activity on any part of the whole site for the duration of the tests. This is because extraneous noise can result in test failures requiring re-tests.
  • Ensure all dwellings to be tested have 240V mains connected to power sockets in all test rooms and lights operate throughout. This is to minimise the time required for testing.
  • Ensure all doors, windows and window ventilation (e.g. trickle vents) are in place and can be closed for the duration of the test. This is because sound leakage can result in un-necessary test failures requiring re-tests.
  • Ensure all rooms to be tested are empty and clear of building materials or furniture so that access is not impeded to any part of the room.
  • Ensure that all duct access panels, loft hatches or covers to other penetrations in walls and ceilings are in place and closed. Ensure that sockets & plate switches of any type on party walls are in place. Ensure that smoke alarms are not audible at all during tests, and that any domestic ventilation systems are not operating. This is because sound leakage can result in un-necessary test failures requiring re-tests.
  • Ensure that ceiling and wall surfaces are complete and any cornices, skirting and flanking strips are in place. This is because sound leakage can result in un-necessary test failures requiring re-tests.
  • Ensure that floor finishes have not been laid on separating floors to be tested. The only exception to this is where a solid concrete floor has a permanently bonded soft covering. Tests should be undertaken ideally without wood laminate floorings in place; if this is not possible, their presence will be noted in the report. This is to ensure the test conditions are valid.
  • Pre-completion SI Tests are normally conducted outside normal working hours when there is no other activity on any part of the site. The contractor should therefore confirm a time for the tests when there will be total quiet, and this could be during an evening or at weekends.

What is one set of tests?

One set of tests between dwellings typically comprises:

  • 1 airborne sound test through a separating wall between lounges and
  • 1 airborne sound test through a separating wall between bedrooms, where possible.

One set of tests between flats typically comprises:

  • 1 airborne sound test through a separating wall between lounges,
  • 1 airborne sound test through a separating wall between bedrooms,
  • 1 airborne sound test through a separating floor between lounges,
  • 1 airborne sound test through a separating floor between bedrooms,
  • 1 impact sound test through a separating floor between lounges,
  • 1 impact sound test through a separating floor between bedrooms.

For rooms for residential purposes, the same general principles as above apply.

If the layout is such that any of the above do not apply, then the test schedule is adapted accordingly.

How many sets of tests are required?

Building control bodies generally stipulate 1 set of tests for every 10 dwelling houses, flats or rooms for residential purposes, so where multiple sets of tests are required for larger developments, this can involve several site visits.

What if a test is failed?

If a test is failed then:-

  • Appropriate treatment should be applied to rooms that failed the test. Outline guidance is provided in BRE information Paper IP 14/02.
  • The developer should be able to demonstrate to building control that any properties not initially tested will meet the requirements, including additional testing to the satisfaction of building control if appropriate.

Why use Spectrum Acoustic Consultants Ltd for your pre-completion SI Testing requirements?

In addition to being accredited by the Association of Noise Consultants (ANC) to undertake pre-completion SI testing, Spectrum have over 30 years of experience in both the design and testing of separating walls and floors, so if a test is failed we can assist in identifying and rectifying the cause.

We have an extensive list of clients with a small sample list here

How can we help with your project?

If you think Spectrum may be able to assist with your building acoustic design or pre-completion testing and would like to discuss a way forward, please get in touch via our contact page

Pre-completion sound insulation testing to Approved Document E and Part E of the Building Regulations