Creaking Ceilings - Getting Nowhere with NHBC


ive had success going to the joist and floor manufacturer and they sent a rep around to check floors , they all have a degree of tolerance , and he said the floor had been poorly fitted ...when the builder checked there was all sorts wrong

is it just noise recent client had deflection and bounce problems
Hi all, apologies in advance for the length of this..

We moved into our newbuild house in September 2013. We have a problem whereby our ceilings creak loudly, like a cracking sound, when someone walks about upstairs. The builder, Dorbcrest Homes, tried a remedial fix by cutting in at the point where the plasterboards used for walls meet the ceiling. The logic being that research has shown the noise to stem from excess adhesive getting pushed upwards as the boards are dot-and-dabbed. This adhesive rubs on the bottom of the joists creating the noise when there's movement. Cutting in is intended to create a void and thereby eliminate the noise.

This approach did improve it SLIGHTY but not sufficiently. We then noticed the noise in other rooms downstairs. When we reported this to Dorbcrest they said the only way to eliminate it completely would be to drop all the ceilings, clear any residue, then replace and make good. BUT they didn't think the noise levels warranted this level of work so refused to do it. Enter the NHBC!

We arranged a visit where they came out, with the builder, to assess the noise and within 2 minutes their guy agreed with Dorbcrest that the noise levels were 'acceptable'. When I pressed him on this for a scale of what was acceptable and what wasn't he simply said it was his opinion. Even though noise is measureable, he couldn't offer anything by way of an upper limit which I found very strange. I've measured the noise with an app and the spike when the cracking noise is heard takes the decibels from 25 to over 60 so it's like someone clapping their hands in the room each time there's a footstep overhead.

I then got talking to a neighbour who'd had a similar problem. She had uncovered some research commissioned jointly by the NHBC, UK Joist Manufacturing Body and Plasterboard Body with Salford Uni Acoustics Dept. to investigate what causes this noise and how to deal with it. There was also an NHBC newsletter detailing the issue with information on how to avoid causing it at the build stage. All available on line and only published in the last 12 months.

Armed with this information I went back to the NHBC. They said regardless of the research (which was clear in stating that this issue was caused by a 'lack of care' during construction), they stood by their claim that the noise level was acceptable.

I've played this from the angle of homeowner. We have put our life and soul into this property and will probably still be living in it when we pop our clogs so who are the NHBC to say what's acceptable when they don't live here?! The builder has the answer they need and are hiding behind the NHBC decision, understandably.

The neighbour who found the research is getting her ceilings replaced for a second time later this month. Her levels were greater but I simply want to know at what point, between our noise levels and hers does the sound become unacceptable? The NHBC can't or won't tell me this. They've given me details of another mediator to go to but before I do that I want to find a homeowner that's had a similar issue that their builder has agreed to put right after the NHBC have been out to listen to it.

I went on MoneySavingExpert to scan their forums and this site came widely recommended so hopefully there'll be one of you out there that knows a) what the hell I'm on about and b) how to get a result.

I'm seriously toying with the idea of going through the small claims court, basing my case on the fact that the noise results from a lack of care and is therefore avoidable coupled with the fact that the NHBC have researched this topic but still cannot tell me what the acceptable limit is! But that's for another day, I'm in no rush.

Yours in Great Anticipation

Neil - Merseyside
Firstly request a SAR from both the NHBC and the Builder, then you will be better prepared to go with your experience and the SAR information to a snagging surveyor to list the defects then to the Ombudsman with all the information. Then should you not get their backing you have shown you have tried everything to allow you to stand in any court and should get a fair hearing.



Look up resilient bars on the interwebs ...these have been found when fitted to reduce the problem you are experiencing

It is a well established issue're not going mad

However ...little research has been done and there are no standards as to acceptable noise levels
Most standards concentrate on the failure in the construction which results in the subsequent noise ...and I think this is your angle

Establish theirs a problem causing the noise ..not the noise level theres only opinion as far as I'm aware in terms of level

There's many things that can go wrong in the construction of floors ...too numerous for here ...but contact me and I will happily go through on the phone my experiences over the few decades

The office team will give you my mobile number ..I will happily talk strategy with you