The Acoustical Challenges for Modular Buildings used for Residential Purposes


  • David Stepanavicius BKL Consultants Ltd,
  • Paul E Marks BKL Consultants Ltd,


As the need for affordable housing increases throughout Canada, modular buildings have moved on from their traditional use as temporary construction trailers or portable classrooms, to forming an important part of permanent housing solutions in both remote and urban locations. Modular buildings offer a cost-effective alternate to “stick-built” construction, that enables a rapid mobilization due to off-site pre-fabrication, with a flexible and ease-of-use approach to the spaces that can be readily adapted to both residential or ancillary support uses. However, while the typical modular assembly is well rehearsed for non-residential uses, there are currently no directly comparable assemblies contained with the Building Code and published formal acoustical performance data of such assemblies is scarce, leading to some ambiguities in the expected acoustical performance of such assemblies. This paper will identify and explore some of the primary acoustical considerations for modular buildings used for residential purposes that have been discovered during the design and construction phases on recent projects. These include a comparison of the design sound isolation ratings of typical assemblies with the as-built performance, details of measures required to mitigate the effects of flanking sound transmission through adjoining constructions and the treatment of building services through shared shafts at the interface of the ancillary uses with the residential modules. Through the discussion of practical examples from both project design and on-site construction works, the paper will provide an insight into the effectiveness of modular construction to achieve acoustical standards that are consistent with the proposed residential uses.

Additional Files



How to Cite

Stepanavicius D, Marks PE. The Acoustical Challenges for Modular Buildings used for Residential Purposes. Canadian Acoustics [Internet]. 2023 Oct. 9 [cited 2024 May 22];51(3):52-3. Available from:



Proceedings of the Acoustics Week in Canada