16th May, 2024

Construction Noise And Working Hours Near Residential Areas

The law does not limit noise to certain hours, but between 11 pm to 7 am councils can enforce restricted permitted noise levels. Construction work ideally shouldn't be carried out during these hours, especially close to residential areas, but there can be exceptions.

Construction Noise And Working Hours Near Residential Areas header image

Construction work is noisy. And some of that noise leaves your site and can disrupt other people and be an inconvenience. When you're working near residential areas that are usually quiet, your work could affect people's daily lives and routines. A baby napping. A night worker sleeping. A teenager studying for exams. A person working from home.

Whether you are putting something up or tearing it down. Even making repairs. The tools you use create noise. The plant and machinery make noise. The stacking of materials makes noise. It's pretty hard to carry out a job on the quiet.

We have discussed before legal limits for noise at work. These apply to noise exposure on site. But what about off-site? What about people working, or living nearby?

The noise pollution problem

Noise pollution is the noise that leaves your site. It can disrupt other people outside of your work. Noise travels, and this can cause big problems in construction work.

Construction sites are often not fully enclosed. You might have perimeter fencing, but no roof. You might be building walls, or demolishing them. So it's hard to contain the noise you create. It travels freely through the air and spreads to surrounding areas.

roofer hammering

And sometimes, especially in maintenance and refurbishment, you might be carrying out work in the same building that others are also using. Soundwaves and vibrations from your work travel through the structure of their home or workplace. If it's your client, they might have planned for this disruption, and be ok with it. But what about adjoining neighbours or workplaces?

Employers have legal duties when it comes to noise exposure at work. But employers also have responsibilities for the health and safety of others who may be affected by their work.

What does this mean for noise pollution?

The law does not limit noise to certain hours, but between 11 pm to 7 am councils can enforce restricted permitted noise levels. Construction work ideally shouldn't be carried out during these hours, especially close to residential areas. It's too noisy.

There are some exceptions. Some roadworks, for example, are carried out at night due to safety reasons or to reduce disruption to the road network. If noisy work does need to be carried out at night, you can apply for consent to carry out work.

Even during permitted hours, you should consider how noise will affect nearby residents, especially in residential areas.

worker entering a house

Noise can be difficult to control, especially in a temporary work environment like a construction site. But there are ways to reduce the impact noise can have on the surrounding area. And, being considerate of your neighbours from the start can prevent issues and complaints during the project, keeping things running smoothly.

For many projects, noise considerations will often be addressed during the planning process and noise restrictions will often be applied to planning permission.

For any project where noise becomes an issue, councils can serve a notice restricting hours and the work that can be done. Failing to comply with the notice can lead to prosecution and fines of an unlimited amount.

Here are some steps you can take to manage construction noise near residential areas or if noise has become an issue in your work.

Noisy equipment

Much of the noise you create comes from your tools and equipment. And while your workers have ear protection, those nearby probably don't.

Too much noise is bad for you. Some noise can be avoided, or at least reduced. And where you can, you should. For the health and safety of those on-site. And for the peace of those close by.

Replacing noisy equipment and processes with quieter alternatives is an easy fix for noise pollution when possible. Using equipment that is regularly inspected and maintained should also help keep noise levels in check.

For example, pre-fabricating elements off-site might reduce the need to drill and cut them on-site. The noisy operations can be moved to a place with permanent and proper noise controls. Better for workers and site neighbours.

Change the timing

No matter how hard you try, you're not going to be able to remove all noisy activities from your project! Noisy work is sometimes unavoidable in construction. But it can be planned and controlled.

What time of day is going to mean the least disruption to neighbouring users? Can the work be carried out safely at the least disruptive time to reduce problems with noise pollution?

Try to avoid carrying out noisy operations early in the morning, or during the evening or night if you have residential areas near the site. If you are working inside or close to a place that is occupied during the day, you could consider the times that they are most sensitive to noise, and plan loud work around those times.

clock changing

Assess the location

It might not always be one specific noisy activity that is a nuisance to neighbours. Think about the things that make noise in general:

When planning the project, think about the location of noisy plant and activities. Can these be placed somewhere they will have the least effect on others? If one side of your site is particularly sensitive to noise, but the other side is an industrial zone, for example, try to move noisy operations away from the sensitive side where you can.

Communicate noisy work

There's nothing worse than being woken up by a loud noise or having your meeting disturbed by deafening sounds. One minute you're discussing spreadsheets, and the next one you can't hear yourself or others.

If you weren't expecting it, your confusion might soon become anger and frustration.

Who is making that noise?

How do I complain?

But what if you told them you were going to be doing some disruptive work a week in advance? They could have taken that meeting from the office rather than home. Or rearranged. Shift workers might be able to alter their schedule or stay somewhere else.

Communicating with people who might be affected can help soften the blow (or the noise in this case!).

If you have to carry out a noisy operation, let people know when, and the steps you have taken to minimise disruption.

construction excavator

You might not be able to eliminate all noise, but by letting people know in advance what's happening and when it is happening - they can prepare. You give them the option to make alternative arrangements or raise concerns so that you can adjust your schedule in special cases.

For example, move a noisy operation to 10 am to reduce the impact on neighbouring residential properties. Or at 4 pm to reduce the disturbance in lessons at the nearby school.

If nothing else, by communicating in advance, people know what the noise is when it happens. They know that it is planned. They also know that you have taken steps to reduce the inconvenience. You have thought about them as your neighbours.

And if the work has to be carried out at a time when it is going to be a nuisance, giving people notice will allow them to make alternative arrangements - for example, moving meetings, or changing shifts.


Download the noise at work toolbox talk, and make sure you consider noise when you carry out your risk assessments.

share on twitter share on facebook share on linked in share by email

This article was written by Emma at HASpod. Emma has over 10 years experience in health and safety and BSc (Hons) Construction Management. She is NEBOSH qualified and Tech IOSH.

Need health and safety documents?

Search hundreds of health and safety documents ready to edit and download for your construction projects.

Find Documents

Recent posts like this...

20 Tips For Better Construction Site Security image

20 Tips For Better Construction Site Security

Site security is an important issue in construction. Your site could be at risk from thieves and vandals, but it could also appear to be an exciting place for children or a shortcut for someone's way home. Here are 20 tips for better construction site security.

Read Post
Construction Noise And Working Hours Near Residential Areas image

Construction Noise And Working Hours Near Residential Areas

The law does not limit noise to certain hours, but between 11 pm to 7 am councils can enforce restricted permitted noise levels. Construction work ideally shouldn't be carried out during these hours, especially close to residential areas, but there can be exceptions.

Read Post
22 Essential Items For Your Construction Site Office image

22 Essential Items For Your Construction Site Office

Setting up your construction site office and getting the correct paperwork in place is important, it's where people go when they arrive on site, and where you run your project from. Your site office needs to contain plenty of information for your team - here are 22 essential items.

Read Post

Spend less time on paperwork.
Start with the free plan today.