LObbying by the House Builders’ Federation has led John Prescott’s Office of the Deputy Prime Minister to relax proposals for noise regulations.
The ODPM had proposed changes to Part E of the Building Regulations that would have introduced regular mandatory testing of sound insulation in new or newly converted properties.

However, after protests by the HBF that such changes would add £75m to the industry’s annual costs and delay some schemes, the government has given the federation 18 months to come up with an alternative proposal.

Housebuilders will be required to meet this HBF standard, which will have to be sufficiently robust to make regular testing unnecessary, or will be subject to the tests laid out in Part E. As yet, it is unclear what the HBF standard will consist of.

Christopher Leslie, Building Regulations minister at the ODPM, said: “I have asked the HBF to develop robust standard details for the sound insulation of separating walls and floors for use in new houses and flats. These must provide consistently good performance and so will not need routine testing.”

The Part E regulations will be enforced at hostels, hotels and conversions to residential accommodation. They will come into force on 1 July 2003.

We feel that we can demonstrate to the government that we have this issue in hand

House Builders’ Federation

Houses and flats must meet the standards laid out in Part E or the HBF’s alternative by 1 January 2004.

HBF director of technical services David Baker said it would take up to 12 months to draw up the “robust standard details” required by the minister.

He said: “This is an opportunity to work up a pattern book of approved construction.”