Noise from construction sites and small building works
Building works are often noisy. However, with care, jobs such as small-scale construction, conversions, refurbishment, decoration, underpinning and even demolition can be carried out without causing too much nuisance to neighbours. This page explains how to avoid causing unacceptable disturbance during such works.
Noisy building activities
We have to accept that building work is often noisy and many jobs cannot get done without some crashing and banging. However, this does not give people (private individuals and/or a building firm) permission to annoy neighbours at all hours of the day and night. There are two things people should do to minimise disturbance from small-scale building works.
First, they should use the ‘best practicable means’ to reduce noise. Second, they should keep noisy activities to reasonable hours.
We would define ‘noisy activities’ as:-
Hand tools - Use of tools such as hammers and saws should be restricted to the hours stated below.
Power tools – Normal hand-held power tools (drills, saws, sanders) can cause a lot of noise and their use should be restricted to the recommended hours.
Plant – This involves use of tools and plant such as pneumatic hammers, pneumatic vibrators, cement mixers, large power saws, stone cutters and planers, compressors or generators. Use of this more powerful type of equipment needs greater consideration as it can be very noisy.
Erection or dismantling scaffolding – can be a very noisy activity and should only be done within suggested hours.
Delivery of plant, equipment or materials – This can be noisy, especially if it involves use of hoists from lorries or tipper lorries. Early morning deliveries cause particular complaint.
The party wall – Some work on the party wall between dwellings can give surprising levels of noise. Work such as wallpaper stripping or wall preparation can sound very loud next door.
Minimising the noise
If the work is being done by professional building firms, they are businesses. They therefore have extra responsibilities imposed on them by the law. The main one is to take the ‘best practicable means’ to stop the noise. For example, using a ‘worn out’ piece of noisy old equipment is not using the 'best practicable means'. You should use the proper equipment which should be well maintained. Where possible, it should have silencers fitted or should have noise-containing hoods for example.
What can the Council do?
The Control of Pollution Act 1974 gives the Council powers to control noise on construction sites; most normal building, refurbishment, renovation/alteration, maintenance, repair, decoration or demolition work will be covered by these powers. The hours of work can be restricted and conditions imposed such as what machinery can be used, how it should be used and where it should be located.
Reasonable times for building works
The biggest step anyone can take to avoid causing a noise problem is to be reasonable about their hours of work. We suggest that people need rest from noise at the weekend and in the evening. It is especially important if young children are involved; we seek to provide peace and quiet in the evenings.
Our suggested hours of noisy working are:-
Monday to Friday - 8.00 a.m. to 6.00 p.m.
Saturday - 8.00 a.m. to 1.00 p.m.
Sunday or Bank Holidays - no noisy working at all
It must be emphasised that action can be taken on work within our recommended hours if the firm or individual involved shows no consideration for the neighbours. Too much noise during the daytime can still be an offence in law. Of course, the hours shown are suggestions for restricting only the noisier building activities.
There is nothing stopping people from carrying on with the quieter types of work (painting, decorating) outside these hours, as long as they do not make noise nuisance which adversely affects their neighbours.
If you are planning to do noisy works
It would be helpful if you could give your neighbours an indication of what work is being done and how long the works are likely to last. They will then have a better idea of how much noise they have to put up with. Often, it is the uncertainty about the noise which worries people the most and they will be much happier if they know what is going on and have an end in sight.
If you are being disturbed by noisy building works
You can report the noise using our online form.
Please be aware that you must provide your details as we are unable to accept or investigate the complaint without these . When we receive your complaint the council will contact the person who is responsible for causing the noise. You will be asked to give permission for this to be done, if you do not give permission your complaint will be recorded but no further action will be taken.