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First up, this is nothing to do with a home theatre, but someone suggested the AVS forum as somewhere that had knowledgeable members who could explain this to me.

Question:
Before I complain to the local government office, can someone check my decibel calculation for me?

According to the research I've done so far laminate flooring with underlay has a protection level of 25dB on average versus carpet flooring with underlay offering a protection level of 53dB - a difference of 28dB. Tiles have a protection level of 23dB versus vinyl with underlay which has a protection level of 40dB - a difference of 17dB.

I have used a smart phone app to do a rough measurement (cheap sound meter on order from Amazon), and I think I understand this bit - the 'resting rate' in our bedrooms at 11pm-ish is about 40dB. The stomping noise in their living room shoots up to mid 70s; the chair dragging is worse, high 70s. So if they add carpet, which is an extra 28dB of protection, I should be back around a quiet bedroom mark?^
75 -28 = 48
Stomping less carpet protection equals new sound rating.
Not perfect, but a big improvement?

For the other two bedrooms below the kitchen, it's not as good
78 - 17 = 61
Chair dragging less lino protection equals new sound rating
Can anyone tell me if I understand sound / decibels or am I confused? I'm not sure I'm applying this right.

Background story if you're interested:
My OH and I brought an apartment last year. It is classed a 'new build' as we are the first people to live in it, even though it was built five years ago (recession in Ireland). We fitted out the kitchen, the bathrooms etc and moved in happy. It is a three bed duplex, with the living area on the lower floor and the bedrooms on the upper floor.

The apartment above us was brought by a social housing association recently (FYI in Ireland they like to spread the social housing out across all areas, in the hope the occupants of social housing will be inspired and motivated by the rest of their community), and they did their own fit out, which is bad news. The living area of this apartment is directly above our bedrooms, and we are being kept awake at night until 2am by one of the the occupants who work shift work. Then we get woken up early in the morning by the other occupant who also does shift work. We get less than 5 hours sleep a night as our ceilings vibrate with chairs being dragged across our ceiling and heavy footwear stamped across it as well. I understand this is 'impact noise'.

The requirements set down by the government building regulations and the managing board of the apartments state that sound must be deadened. The social housing association installed laminate in the living room, and tiles in the kitchen. We followed the rules and got high specification underlay and mortar/adhesive, which cost more, so not only are we tired but we are feeling foolish for having spent the extra money.

We appreciate everyone needs to have a life, but we also need some sleep. We don't see why we should miss out on a good nights sleep just because the social housing trust is too cheap and nasty to install decent underlay.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
ahh if only life was quite so simple :)

sadly we need to sell our souls and pay off the mortgage so we can afford to move.

Alternatively I might just seek advice on building the biggest most kick arse sound system in the world that literally blows my ceiling off and sends my upstairs neighbours on an airbourne journey far, far away from me.
 

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We'll assume you talked to your neighbors and they weren't receptive. Even putting some rubber feet on the chairs would go a long way.

40dB ambient is extremely low. If that were the true quality of the construction then you probably wouldn't be having these issues. Are you using the A-weighted scale?

When the building was built-- if there are sound isolation requirements-- the assembly specified in the plans met a certain noise criteria. You would need to confirm it was constructed as submitted.

In reality it would be easier and cheaper to improve the sound isolation yourself versus getting into a legal battle. I would blow insulation in between the joists and apply a second layer of drywall with Green Glue. You could get even more extreme but since you've already sold your soul I doubt there is much left in the budget.

Tim
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Ok, we're going to continue on the 'Im a bit stupid' journey, so forgive me if I misunderstand anything.

When we brought the apartment, we removed the ceilings on the top level, added extra insulation and relined. The platform that forms our ceiling / their floor is concrete. The frame of our apartment is also concrete, with only the internal walls and our ground level ceiling/upper level floor wood (so effectively each apartment is a double level concrete box, shaped internally with plasterboard and planks). I had two acoustics construction companies out to quote about re-doing it and both told me the €8,000 (roughly $12,000) would be a waste as its impact noise, and I wouldnt receive any improvement - are they telling me fairy tales (b*llsh*t)? If Green Glue is the magic we need, we'll rip the ceilings down again.

Yes, we tried the 'talking to the neighbours' tactic a couple of times. Then we tried the 'talking to the social housing landlords' step. In short, we got told we are a couple owning a three bed apartment in an area where there is a big demand for family properties and therefore we are a negative for the community, and if we weren't childless we would have more understanding. Given its the adults making the thumping noise Im not sure what planet they're on. I also note that when I'm downstairs I can't hear my OH moving around on our upper level, yet I can still hear their banging and scraping on their level, so basically our flooring is better than their flooring.

I'm not sure what scale I was using, as it was just an app on my iphone as we were worried we were just being precious / paranoid / overly sensitive etc. I've now received a sound meter from Amazon (admittedly not an expensive one - it only cost around $80) and it measures in dBA and dBC, so I'll do some measurements over the next few days.
 

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Ok, we're going to continue on the 'Im a bit stupid' journey, so forgive me if I misunderstand anything.
Not stupid.. If it were simple, people wouldn't have degrees in it.

Well, concrete changes things. Try contacting the soundproofing company and asking them.

It definitely is impact noise and I don't think you can directly address it from underneath. Maybe you can seal it out by enclosing your space in a "bubble".

You're out of my league on this one, like I said the best bet is to contact soundproofingcompany.com.

You want A-weight. But with a concrete shell you may get 40dB. Typical frame construction is usually above 50dB.

Tim
 

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STC ratings cannot be used for the assessment of impact noise ... two completely different things.

In many multi-storey residential buildings here in Oz, the use of hard floors is banned and carpet is mandatory.

There are standard tests for impact noise isolation and they involve the use of a "tapping" machine, however if your development is not subject to a minimum isolation requirement, then testing will be useless. Are there any statutory or local authority requirements in your area ?

Having lived in a number of multi-storey concrete boxes whilst in Singapore I know exactly the sort of problem you face.

The problem with impact noise is that it's a direct vibration that gets into the whole of the structure, and so even if you improve the ceiling performance the vibration is probably also travelling down through the walls.

Assuming that you have drywall ceilings suspended from the concrete slab above, then the best way to improve the ceiling (if you really want to try) is to use acoustic isolation hangers which normally incorporate a rubber component to dampen the vibration.

Hope this helps.

Cheers,
 

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^^what he said.. you're going to have flanking noise.

The only solution may be to create your own bubble.. which is to say, treat your ceiling, your walls and your floor to keep the noise out. Soundproofing co could give you practical advise on what will work.

Tim
 

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If you're going to be spending money anyway, here's a (crazy?) thought - offer to buy your upstairs neighbor a nice area rug for that room and some felt/rubber chair feet...
 

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If you're going to be spending money anyway, here's a (crazy?) thought - offer to buy your upstairs neighbor a nice area rug for that room and some felt/rubber chair feet...

I totally agree! Impact noise is MUCH easier to control at the source. It vibrates the entire structure (flanking) and you would have to go to extreme lengths to isolate your room(s) from it. If you can minimize the source of the noise, you will have solved your problem.
 

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As mentioned above. Move out.

No amount of money will change thier lack of understanding that thier schedules are not typical. (Same with neighboors with barking dogs).

Take the loss and buy a top unit somewhere else, or a single family residence. The lost money will seem like a bargain.
 
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