It was once referred to as the forgotten pollutant and while some may think this issue is a fact of life, noise is an annoyance that can be bad for your health, whether it’s in the home, workplace or outside environment. Sadly, when sound is overlooked in the design of our homes, it can have a detrimental effect on our neighbours and the people we live with. With acoustics such an important consideration, how can we ensure homes are designed for effective soundproofing without it being an afterthought?
Studies have shown that exposure to noise can seriously impact our health, contributing to sleep disturbance, hypertension and an increased risk of heart disease, diabetes, stroke and dementia. Excessive, unwanted noise can also seriously damage neighbourly relations. Such is the impact of noise that it is second to air pollution in terms of environmental health issues.
In order to manage noise, housebuilders and developers can play a key role in its management and it needs to be considered at the design stage. From the outset, it’s important to look at both keeping the noise out and keeping the noise in. In other words, we need to prevent noise intrusion from outside into our homes such as the roar of traffic whilst at the same time preventing sound transmission from one home to another. Approved Document E of Building Regulations provides specific requirements for soundproofing for new homes and conversions, but this is in order to achieve a minimum standard for the protection of health and safety.
A home’s layout can impact the acoustic environment considerably which is why it’s important to use materials that will achieve good acoustics and solve any sound transmission issues. Hard floors, high ceilings and open plan living might be fashionable but can lead to noise issues if not considered for optimal sound quality. The designer must not only satisfy the legislative requirements, but should also meet the client’s requirements for privacy and reduced noise transfer between homes, and from one internal space to another.
Some of the key considerations of good acoustic design include: glazing, doors, ventilation, building orientation and layout, separating wall and floor performance, and internal wall and floor performance. It is also important to consider outdoor spaces including gardens, balconies and terraces.
At This Land, we consider the acoustic design of our homes at the earliest stages of each development. From material selection such as the choice of insulation and plasterboard to simple things such as the layout of homes, tackling unwanted noise at the planning stage will save time and money by reducing the need for renovations and retrofits once a home has been completed.
We are spending more time than ever in our homes which is why we need to ensure they are acoustically sound. We need to be making our buildings even better if we want to address the health and wellbeing of occupants, and good acoustics are an important part of this. A well-designed home that solves sound transmission issues will feel comfortable to occupants and this will ultimately have a positive effect on their health and wellbeing in the long term.