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NHBC Foundation sees encouraging drop in noise complaints by homeowners

The NHBC Foundation has reported an encouraging drop in noise complaints by owners of new attached homes following the introduction of tough new industry standards in 2003.

During the latter part of the 20th century, noise transmitted between attached homes was a growing concern and the subject of many complaints to local government environmental health officers.  In extreme cases, there were health implications for occupants subjected to noise nuisance.

By the 1990s, the issue had gained a high profile and a political dimension. In response, the Government introduced higher standards for sound insulation in Approved Document E, 2003.  From 2004, Robust Details have been available as a means of compliance.

The NHBC Foundation report Sound Progress: a review of homeowner feedback on noise in new homes looks at feedback to NHBC from owners of new homes built since the introduction of these standards to see whether these changes have led to a reduction in concerns.

The main finding from this study is a significant reduction in noise-related concerns from owners of new attached homes since 2004:

  • For attached homes first occupied in 2004, about 7 households per 1000 contacted NHBC about noise problems.  For homes first occupied in 2010, this was down to 4 per 1000.
  • Since 2004, there were progressively fewer concerns related to sound transmitted through the structure from adjoining homes.

The research also looked at noise contacts from owners of new detached homes. These owners were more likely to contact NHBC in relation to noise issues than those living in attached homes, and creaking floors were the most common problem highlighted.
Of the noise concerns raised by owners of both attached and detached homes (including a variety of noises from the fabric and services) most could be avoided by taking additional care during construction and following accepted good practice.

NHBC Director, Neil Jefferson, said: “We are very encouraged by these findings which show that there has been a significant drop in noise complaints by owners of new homes.

“Noise nuisance can cause misery for homeowners and, in extreme cases, can even have health implications on an occupants’ health.

“We are very pleased to see that the UK house-building industry has made excellent progress towards reducing noise transmission since improved industry standards were introduced in 2003.”

For more information and to download the publication, please visit: www.nhbcfoundation.org/soundprogress