Converting housing into flats

In this blog, we will be discussing the increase in developers converting housing into flats, and the acoustic considerations that this places on contractors and specifiers.

Rockzero, Denmark, intelligent walls, family house, reference case

Silence is golden

With ever-increasing demands being placed on existing housing stock, more and more properties are being converted into flats.  However, these buildings were never designed for such high density living, and as a result, many flat conversions have left residents with the stress of noise problems – not from nuisance neighbours, but because the newly-formed separating floors and walls do little to stop the transfer of normal day-to-day noise arising from people simply existing in such close proximity.

Noise is a big and growing problem.  In part one of this four part acoustic month, we delve a bit deeper into the issue of sound.

Converting houses into flats is becoming increasingly popular as there is a high demand for flats in crowded areas such as London. The benefits for the developer and landlord are obvious, but for the tenants, there is a concern around the level of noise between properties.

According to a 2013 Chartered Institute of Environmental Health¹ survey of 159 local authorities, there were over 120,000 noise complaints received from people in residential properties over a twelve month period. Meanwhile, more than a quarter of UK adults encountered a problem with a nuisance neighbour in 2014, according to a survey for Which?², with loud voices, loud music, slamming doors and noisy pets all featuring in the list of nuisances.  

For the online advice group, NoiseNuisance.org³ which is run by experienced environmental health professionals and acoustic consultants, “noise pollution is a serious issue for hundreds of thousands of people living in the UK every year. For the sufferer, it can cause disruption, interference and irritation and, in some cases, lead to the development of stress and loss of sleep.”

With properties getting closer to one another – with even just a wall or floor separating the two homes - life in the home is getting noisier. It is for this reason that sound insulation plays a huge part in the conversion of houses into flats

Next week, we will look at the regulations that surround this topic.


1 CIEH Survey of Local Authority Noise Enforcement Activity 2012-13