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St Leonards Buildings

Soundproofing Listed Buildings

Luckily Hush Acoustics have always prided itself on being at the forefront of converting existing buildings into separate residential dwellings.
This is Hush’s core business and has been since it was established back in 1984. Over the last 30 years we have been involved in so many conversion and material change of use developments and a good percentage of them have been listed buildings.

Listed Buildings are a challenge and one that we will always try to get involved with at design stage with an architect. This is because there are so many design conditions and listed building constraints within this type of development so the earlier we can get involved with the development the better. These types of developments and projects are interesting and quite difficult to get right.

As this is the case I have decided to write a simple blog to highlight some key design points that need to be considered when carrying out a listed building conversion. Hopefully this will give any reader that designs in this sector a head start when thinking about acoustics.

Listed Building Constraints

For all the readers that are involved in this form of development I thought it would be a good place to start to point out some of the most common Listed Building constraints that we deal with on a daily basis that will affect the design of the acoustic system that can be incorporated within the design. The list of constraints we come across frequently is as follows:

  • Orante Lath and Plaster Ceilings
  • Ornate Ceiling Roses
  • Ornate Covings and Cornices
  • Limited Floor Build Ups
  • Not being able to lower ceilings
  • Listed Staircases
  • Achieving Fire Ratings

Depending on the listed status will depend on what can and can’t be done on a site but despite this list of Listed Building Constraints if it is a conversion of a listed building into separate residential dwellings then the Material Change of Use Regulations of Approved Document E will need to be achieved.

Building Regulations

It can be so difficult to achieve the required Regulations because of the troubles that come with converting listed buildings. However, converting a building that has listed status into separate residential units must achieve the requirements of Document E for Material Change of Use. See the regulations here: Building Regulations For Soundproofing

Obviously because of the list of many Listed Building Constraints it can be difficult to achieve the Regulations and because of this there is a clause in Listed Building Development called the Test and Declare Rule.

Test and Declare Rule

The Test and Declare rule has been introduced for Listed Building Development for situations that occur when Listed Building constraints prevent the separating floor and wall construction achieving the requirements of the Building Regs. For example if a site has a grade 1 listed ceiling that can’t be upgraded then this could severely hinder the chance of achieving the required regulations. In these situations the Test and Declare rule would apply. The basic principal of this rule is that Building Control (LABC or Private) has the right to sign a development off even if it doesn’t comply with the standards of the Building Regulations and fails when acoustically tested due to a listed building constraint. This doesn’t mean that no acoustic solution needs to be used on site or that a contractor doesn’t have to attempt to achieve the standards. What the rule means is that an architect has to design a solution for the floors and walls to achieve the highest possible acoustic figures and to attempt to achieve the requirements of the Building Regs no matter what issues there are with the building. The separating constructions will be tested as normal in accordance with Document E. If they pass then all is well. If they fail, the Building Control Officer can still sign the development off as long as they agree that all has been done to attempt to achieve the Regulations. If Building Control doesn’t believe all has been done to achieve the required Regulations then the property will not be signed off. The most important part of this rule is that the results are declared. This is an issue in the UK Building Industry at the moment. The rest of the Test and Declare rule is being adhered to but the part about declaring the results isn’t. It is imperative that anyone moving into the newly converted residential units knows what the acoustic performance levels are so that they don’t start complaining about these levels in the future. The results are normally displayed in a prominent place of the building such as the entranceway so all know exactly how the separating floors and walls are performing.

Using the Correct Hush Systems

As already mentioned in this blog, Hush has been involved in the design of acoustic products and systems for Listed Building Development since the company began in 1984. Due to this we have acoustic solutions that have been designed without acoustic floor or acoustic ceilings specifically for Listed Building Development. These solutions will fall into the Test and Declare criteria should a test be failed because of the listed building constraints. In particular the HD1006, HD1030, HD1044 and the HD1045 get used the most in Listed Building Development. Please check out these systems here:

For advice on acoustic requirements for Listed Building Development please contact the Hush technical team on 01519332026.

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