Communicating Performance Effectively: Noise Between Attached Domestic Dwellings

Robert Hanson

New Zealand Acoustics, 21(2), pp.15- 25 . (2008).

Building regulations in England and Wales have consistently failed to ensure that domestic dwellings are built to standards where occupants are satisfied with the level of sound insulation. Recent judgments have left owner/occupiers exposed to noise without a legal remedy. If occupants complain about noise they risk reducing the selling price of that dwelling.Dwellings are often marketed on visual aspects rather than performance, people view property but they test drive cars. Lessons from the car industry suggest how a media focus on testing and comparing performance can help drive up standards of features that are not immediately visible such as CO2 emissions and safety. This paper will present results from surveys of both builders and occupants to show their current attitudes towards sound insulation and regulation. Drawing upon empirical evidence from other industries this paper puts the case that effective rating systems improve performance of products for consumers more effectively than regulation. Looking at successful rating systems in other areas and current noise/acoustic comfort ratings, which have been in existence for over a decade, this paper asks the questions what makes a rating system successful? and what should a noise/acoustic comfort rating system look like?