David Holder from CMS Acoustic Solutions explains how his company seeks to cut noise transmission on projects from modern apartments to schools for the deaf

Founded in 2003, CMS Acoustic Solutions is one of seven businesses in CMS Group, a £15m-turnover company based in Warrington. Acoustic Solutions makes a range of acoustic products for reducing noise transmission through walls and floors and has also formed distribution partnerships with other companies, including BSW, the maker of sound insulation material Regupol.

Acoustic Solutions has 12 members of staff across its head office in Warrington and branch in Colchester. Over the next year it plans to open a new office and distribution centre in London and an additional office in Glasgow. David Holder, sales director of the company, tells us about solving sound issues.

Tell us about the acoustics market

The market is buoyant and is showing no signs of slowing down. This is partly because it doesn’t just rely on one sector. We have our fingers in many pies – we work on new-build, conversions and industrial developments. We’ve also started developing a client base, which is unusual for firms like ours. This is mainly in housing, boosted by the recent boom in apartment building.

What is your position in the market?

We’re not the cheapest but we have products to cater for all ends of the market. It’s usually a case of establishing whether a client is driven by price or performance.

Is it competitive?

There is a lot of competition. What annoys us the most is that a lot of firms sell on price only – that is, they sell what they have on the shelf. We work differently – we provide tailor-made solutions and pride ourselves on our unusual bespoke service.

Tell us about some of the more unusual jobs

In a recent industrial project, the noise from a very loud tyre-shredding machine had to be blocked out. I came up with an off-the-cuff solution – using airport x-ray curtains, which are very heavy, to drape down and block out noise.

Another project we’re working on is a school for the deaf. There was a large atrium in the middle with acoustic problems – noises that wouldn’t bother the rest of us, but can be very painful for children with hearing implants. The atrium had a huge mast in the middle so we came up with the idea of an acoustic sail to dampen the noise. Involving the children in the design allowed us to really customise it.

What are your most popular products?

The new-build and refit markets are particularly busy and these customers tend to require under-screed products, made of recycled rubber, or over-screed ones, which are a combination of polyurethane and cork. These products are from our Regupol range, which has Robust Details approval.

Was it difficult to get Robust Details approval?

Robust Details is a long and expensive process – it costs £100,000 – but it’s a worthwhile exercise as it is such a high standard and eliminates the need for pre-completion testing.

What are your lead times?

We pride ourselves on a short lead time of about two to three days.

How will a revision of the Building Regulations affect you?

Rumour has it that Part E of the Building Regulations, which deals with resistance to sound, will be revised in 2008. We think that it will be fine-tuned to adapt to the way we live today rather than changed completely.

Housebuilders are merrily building developments everywhere, but land prices are high so everyone is packed in tightly – Part E needs to look at setting a minimum standard for this. People aren’t neighbourly and considerate any more so there are a lot of noise problems. There are sound systems bolted to walls and more flats have balconies.

There’s emphasis on low range frequencies but we need to take into account mid-range ones too. For instance, the noise of a drum kit is blocked out but voices aren’t.

We feel we’re prepared for these changes – we’re good at predicting future scenarios.

Who has most input into specification?

We usually deal with acoustic consultants, developers and architects.