September 2017

46 BUILD / September 2017 , grave. For example, educational outcomes are affected by acoustic conditions in schools. In addition, healthcare outcomes are significantly better in hospitals where good acoustics are present. Noise can affect how well you concentrate at work and how well you can rest in your home. It can also affect your physical and mental health. “As humans, we are very visually oriented and it can be difficult to convince people to take acoustics seriously in design and construction. We spend a lot of time talking to contractors and designers, to help them understand the value and quality benefits of considering acoustics and discussing with them how it doesn’t have to be a significant cost, if it’s considered early enough in the design process.” On the firm’s approach to working on a project, Susan spills the beans on the key areas they focus on to ensure success. “Our goal is to give people high- quality acoustic advice, which is appropriate to both their budget and aspirations. We always talk to the clients to find out what they need to achieve and tailor dBx Acoustics Ltd.’s advice, based on that rather than issuing a generic report. “It’s important to us that our clients understand the advice they are receiving and are happy with it, so we will always respond quickly to follow up queries and always take the time to talk through a question or problem. This approach ensures that we arrive at the solution which is best, not only for acoustics, but also for the overall scheme. “We also try to be proactive. We are often waiting on information from others before the firm can issue our advice, but the firm ensure that the clients understand how far dBx Acoustics Ltd have progressed and what we need to go further, so that our work doesn’t delay the project.” Working in such a competitive industry, Susan explains how the firm ensures that they are always the best possible option for clients. “We believe that being a small team gives us a unique advantage over our larger competitors. Each project has a lead consultant who quickly builds up a relationship with the client and the rest of the design team. Since we are all working together, in the absence of the lead consultant, there is usually still someone in the office who knows about the project. “We’re also very fortunate to be in a position when working on a wide range of challenges across different sectors, rather than being specialists in a niche area. This broad knowledge base means that we can think creatively around project challenges, in a way that perhaps a more narrowly focused consultancy couldn’t. “At the end of the day, we have a team of experienced, knowledgeable consultants who between them have completed thousands of projects – and that knowledge works to the benefit of our clients.” Susan then offers a fascinating glimpse of the acoustics sector in the Greater Manchester region currently, including any major developments or outside influences affecting it. “We are finding now that there are a lot of large residential schemes in Manchester, either in the planning or construction phases, so we see this being important over the next couple of years. There also seems to be, slowly, an upturn in high-end office fit out work, which we see as a good sign for the industry. “It will be interesting to see whether having a Mayor affects development in Greater Manchester over the next couple of years, indeed there’s already much foreign investment coming in and so the industry now seems buoyant. “The main development in acoustics now is the release of the new ProPG guidance on planning and noise. This is likely to mean that planning applications for residential developments will need a more detailed acoustic assessment, than has previously been the case.” In closing, Susan reveals what the future holds for the firm as well as potential developments in the wider construction market. “dBx Acoustics Ltd are planning to expand our testing team - so that we can service the need for residential pre-completion testing nationwide. We see this being a great opportunity over the next couple of years. “We’ve also invested in more equipment for long-term construction noise, dust and vibration monitoring; we’ve currently got deployments on a demolition site in London and on an aggregate transfer depot and are looking to serve more clients in this area. “I’m always wary of trying to predict the future in construction, as anything can happen! Things seem to be going well now but when Brexit finally happens, or the next time there is a change of government; things could easily go bump again. Fortunately, being small and having a wide client base protects us from a lot of this disruption, as dBx Acoustics Ltd are easily able to adapt to work where we are needed.”