Acoustics'08 Paris

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Sound Insulation for Homes

Dr. Sean Smith
Associate Dean (Knowledge Transfer)
Faculty of Engineering, Computing and Creative Industries
Merchiston Campus
Napier University
10 Colinton Road
Edinburgh EH10 5DT
Tel: 0131 455 5101 or 2966

Session AA10 - Airborne and Impact Sound Insulation (5aAAb2) Friday 4 th July (8.20am).

A new system for monitoring and inspecting the sound insulation of new homes has led to the most significant improvement in construction regulation compliance. The system known as Robust Details will feature as one of the presentations at the Acoustics 08 Paris conference on the 4 th of July.

In England and Wales all new attached homes either have to be sound tested, or require to be registered with Robust Details system.

70% of all new homes now use the Robust Details system approach accounting for over 100,000 newly built homes per year. Robust Details allows architects, developers and house builders a pattern book of pre-approved designs. Construction sites which register with this system can be visited at random by RD Acoustic Inspectors. Inspectors can visually check the walls and floors being built in apartments and attached homes. They can also without prior notice undertake sound insulation tests on completed developments to determine whether the regulations levels are being achieved. The developer is also required to sign a compliance letter stating that the designs have been correctly followed. Thus the occupant of the house or apartment does have a legal binding from the developer.

Annually over 2000 sample sound insulation tests are undertaken and over 2,500 inspections. Given previous poor compliance rates of between 35% and 50% the Government predicted that it may take at least 10 years to bring compliance rates to 95%. However, the Robust Details system approach has resulted in compliance levels achieving 97% in the first 18 months.

Over 30 inspectors are involved in visiting sites across England and Wales. The inspectors are subcontracted from some of the UK’s leading acoustic consultancy companies.

Robust Details is a non profit distribution organisation established in 2004 under a Government mandate. Developers are required to pay £30 per house or apartment which is registered. Any excess funds are invested into research and development.

The Robust Details approach is receiving global international interest for possible adoption into other countries. The sound insulation levels now being recorded for these new build homes are some of the highest in the world. Typical average performance is over 60dB D nT,w for airborne sound insulation.

New designs and innovative products for sound insulation can be regularly assessed and the pattern book or design guides are in effect a living document, allowing continuous updating of design options.

Figure 1: Shows a chart of compliance levels for sound insulation tests undertaken on over 4000 new homes. (Green – compliance achieved, Amber – compliance achieved but performance less than expected, Red – Non-compliance).



Figure 2: Shows the sound insulation compliance rates before and after Robust Details started.

For further information on Robust Details, please refer to the web site:

Or Contact the primary author:

Dr Sean Smith
Tel: 0044 (0) 131 455 2568
Mobile : 07887 822637
Dr Sean Smith is Depute Director of the Building Performance Centre at Napier University, Edinburgh, Scotland, UK.

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