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Construction work can be disruptive and noisy. It can be a nuisance if construction is carried out in a residential area or adjacent to sensitive properties such as hospitals. Noise from construction sites can disturb people, especially those who are sick. However, construction sites can only partially eliminate noise, as many activities involve the usage of heavy machinery and tools. Even a small power tool can make enough noise to wake people up. Ever heard a power grinder work? The noise can be excruciating and annoying. That being said, construction has to be carried out. Construction companies will always prefer starting their day as early as possible and making the most out of a day because of the costs involved, including labour. To avoid any conflicts between the public and the construction workers, the UK government has a set of laws & regulations about the allowed working hours at construction sites in and around residential areas.

Working Hours Restriction for Noisy Construction

Before we mention the allowable working hours for noisy construction work, let us first discuss which construction activities are categorized as “noisy”. The Control of Pollution Act 1974″ mentions several such activities. Some of these are discussed below:

  • The usage of hand tools such as saws and hammers.
  • Construction work involving power tools, including hand-held machinery such as angle grinders, sanders, power drills, etc.
  • The usage of plant equipment, for instance, generators, compressors, planers, power saws, cement mixers, pneumatic hammers, and Kango hammers.
  • Pile driving
  • Dismantling/Erecting scaffolding for construction work.
  • Building Partition walls

Compliance with Laws and Regulations

“The Control of Pollution Act 1974” also obligates informing your neighbours before beginning any such construction activity. You also have to let them know how long it will take to finish the work. Building firms have to follow all the codes of practice about construction.

Restricted Hours

The laws and regulations state that all general construction activities should comply with the following working hour schedules:

  • 8 am-6 pm (Monday to Friday)
  • 8 am-1 pm (Saturdays)
  • No noisy construction activity can be carried out on bank holidays and Sundays.

The above restrictions do not imply that you cannot carry out any construction activities. It implies that you cannot carry out noisy construction activities. Other activities, such as site clearance, preparation, cleaning, painting, etc., can be carried out. These restrictions may imply a more extended construction period for construction companies and site owners. Still, you must remember that the law’s purpose is to protect people, including yourself. However, you can save your construction time by ensuring that all remaining activities are carried out after or before the restricted hours, while noisy activities can be carried out during the restricted hours.

Construction Work on Saturdays and Sundays

As you may have noticed, the restricted hours are different for weekends. On Saturdays, noisy construction activities can only be carried out from 8 am to 1 pm. However, this rule may differ for different areas, and you should check with your local council for confirmation. Sundays and bank holidays are entirely restricted, and no noisy activity can be carried out except in the case of emergencies, for which you may have to contact your local council. For example, suppose construction work has to be carried out for restoring/repairing utility installations such as gas or water pipes or electrical works. In that case, permissions may be granted by the local council. Other circumstances that cannot be avoided, such as working on train tracks, usually done during the night, are also generally exempt from these restrictions. Permission for carrying out these activities may be conditional and limit certain machinery’s use to control noise pollution.

What About DIY Construction Activities?

The laws and restrictions mentioned above typically pertain to carrying out professional construction. If you are a DIY enthusiast and live in a populated area, and you are in the habit of using your power tools during weekends or late hours, you can still get in trouble. It is best to talk to your local council regarding their guidelines for DIY work.

What if I Am a Tradesperson?

Every tradesperson must comply with rules and regulations even if he is doing construction work in his home.

Such people should be even more careful. Any complaint against such activities can make you lose your authorization or license. However, laws and regulations about DIY work are not that clear.

The most relevant legislation might be the Noise Act (1996) which classifies 11 pm-7 am as nighttime and prohibits noisy work during these hours except in the case of emergencies. This, however, does not allow you to work during other restricted hours as defined by the control of pollution act 1974, and you should still be careful when carrying out DIY activities.

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The Party Wall Act 1996

If you have a shared boundary with your neighbours, you will have to sign a party wall act with them before you begin any construction work which involves:

  • Demolishing or building a party structure or wall.
  • Repairing a party structure.
  • Excavating within six metres of neighbouring buildings

The PWA aims to protect neighbouring properties from construction activities which can damage their integrity. Anyone who intends to carry out work covered under the PWA must inform all the adjoining homeowners.

Noisy Construction Work in the Neighbourhood

Suppose any resident faces any problem because of noisy construction activities after the restricted hours. In that case, general guidelines suggest that residents should first try talking with the builders/workers instead of making a formal complaint. This allows workers/builders to rectify practices that violate laws and regulations. Most of the time, such interactions between residents and workers result in an amicable solution. However, if workers/builders do not respond positively to such complaints, the residents can formally complain to the local council. Any legitimate complaint can result in the issuance of a notice to any such offenders, and if the offence is not rectified, it can result in fines and penalties over £20,000.

Considerate Constructors Scheme

The “Considerate Constructors Scheme” is an organization which ensures compliance with high building standards for maintaining an impeccable reputation and a positive image of the construction sector. The organization works to minimize the effects of building works on residents. Suppliers, construction companies, and building sites can sign up for the Considerate Constructors Scheme, which monitors their activities. Any site registered under this scheme displays posters with the contact details and names of site managers who can be contacted by the public if there is any complaint.

What Are the Best Ways to Reduce Noise at Construction Sites?

Although the noise associated with many construction activities cannot be eliminated, there are certain steps you can take to reduce noise at construction sites. Restricting heavy power tools within a sound-insulated workshop may help in some but not all locations. Eliminating noisy machinery, tools, and processes with less noisy options is another step you can take. If you are a DIY enthusiast, you can create a soundproof workshop at home. Using various insulating materials, the entire workshop can be insulated to reduce noise. However, that would require you to wear protective gear to protect your ears.

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