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Towards a practical method for ranking acoustic comfort in structurally connected dwellings in England: motivating improvements in, and understanding of, acoustic comfort

Hanson, R.E.; (2009) Towards a practical method for ranking acoustic comfort in structurally connected dwellings in England: motivating improvements in, and understanding of, acoustic comfort. Doctoral thesis, UCL (University College London).

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Abstract

This study focuses on occupant acoustic comfort in domestic dwellings in England and asks how potential buyers and other interested parties can identify likely ‘quiet homes’ and likely ‘noisy homes’. To answer this question, the roles of building regulations, acoustic comfort classification schemes, building contractor and type of dwelling are investigated. The first of these investigations examines the effectiveness of building regulations at delivering homes built to standards that ensure satisfactory levels of occupant acoustic comfort. The investigation is undertaken through interviews with key personnel in Government and industry. The conclusions are that regulatory standards for sound transference between dwellings have changed little since they were introduced in 1965 (in force 1966) and continue today to remain too low and too poorly enforced to be relied upon to deliver adequate acoustic comfort levels for many occupants. The second focus of study concerns acoustic comfort rating schemes developed in a number of other countries. How these schemes work, their influence on improving acoustic comfort levels and their suitability for England are investigated through interviews with key people that developed them, practising acousticians and government employees. The key findings indicate that few people are aware of rating schemes in their respective countries and that similar number-based schemes are unlikely to be effective in England due to lack of government and industry interest. The third investigation aims to find out if different building contractors in England build their dwellings to different levels of acoustic comfort to those of their competitors. This qualitative investigation is carried out though an attitudinal survey of all major building contractors operating in England. Data is collected by letter written from the standpoint of a potential buyer. The investigation shows contractors only building to minimum regulatory standards and not competing with each other on levels of acoustic comfort. The fourth section of the study aims to found out occupant and buyer attitudes towards acoustic comfort. The quantitative survey collected data through an on line questionnaire. The findings reveal that acoustic comfort is a concern for many occupants, dwelling type is related to acoustic comfort and that prior to buying a home, acoustic performance is an important consideration for many purchasers. Overall this thesis concludes that after over forty years of regulating sound insulation, regulatory standards have not improved, remain poorly enforced, and are of a level too low to ensure satisfactory levels of acoustic comfort for many occupiers; and that measurement based acoustic comfort classification schemes are unsuitable for England, leaving type of dwelling as the only guide to acoustic comfort for consumers. Given the importance occupants and buyers place upon acoustic comfort this is a significant finding of practical value.

Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Title:Towards a practical method for ranking acoustic comfort in structurally connected dwellings in England: motivating improvements in, and understanding of, acoustic comfort
Language:English
Additional information:Authorisation for digitisation not received
UCL classification:UCL > School of BEAMS > Faculty of the Built Environment > Bartlett School > Bartlett School of Graduate Studies

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