Sound won’t be issue in timber towers: Kelowna building manager

Changes to provincial building code ensure proper sound insulation in multi-family apartment builds

Now that Kelowna city council has shown their interest in jumping on board the province’s early-adoption initiative to increase storeys in wooden buildings from seven to 12, the question arises: will noisy neighbours be an issue?

Wood is the backbone of many structures, but it isn’t the first material one would think of when considering sound insulation—especially in multi-family residential builds. But the city’s building and permitting branch manager Doug Patan said noise and wafting smells won’t be an issue thanks to the changes in the building code.

READ MORE: Taller timber towers piques Kelowna council’s interest

Recent changes that came into effect in December 2018 saw improvements to sound transmission regulations in the British Columbia Building Code, he said.

“Before you had to meet a sound coefficient in the walls,” he said. “Now, it’s everything that embodies that unit; the floors, ceiling and the walls.”

The updates to airborne sound transmission provisions regulate flanking noise—or sound that transmits between space indirectly by travelling around or over, rather than through it.

Patan said he has heard a lot of complaints in older units related to smells, but he said the changes to the building code will remedy this as well.

“It’s a bit costly for the developer, but for life safety it’s a great thing in case of a fire because it insulates in between the walls,” he said, noting fire and smoke would be contained to one unit, protecting other homes.

The province announced it would be adopting the changes to allow for taller timber buildings back in March. With the provincial and national codes set to change over the next few years, the City of Kelowna is hopping on the encapsulated mass timber train a few years early.

“We’re excited to see Kelowna leading innovations in the construction industry,” development services director Mo Bayat said. “Because many of the components are pre-assembled in mass timber, it translates to a much faster build with less disruption to the neighbourhood.”

— with files from Michael Rodriguez

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