What time can building work start in a residential area?

We’re probably all familiar with the fact that building work can be noisy and disruptive. And we know that builders prefer to start working fairly early in the morning so that they can get as much work as possible done during the day. This can cause conflicts between people living in residential areas and the construction industry.  As a consequence, the times within which building and construction work can happen are limited by the law in the UK.

What time can builders start work in residential areas in the UK?

Building work in public areas and on construction sites in the UK must be in accordance with the 1974 Pollution Control Act, which aims to protect the public against noise pollution as well as air pollution. This act limits noisy work to between 8am and 6pm from Monday to Friday. This does not mean that no work related to construction can happen outside of this, but it must be work which is not noisy, for example preparing a site and setting up for the day ahead, or tidying up the site after work. 

The kind of work which is considered noisy and is therefore time limited under these laws is usually any task involving the use of hand or power tools, and the erection or dismantling of scaffolding or walls. These laws around building noise generally only apply to professional construction work. In order to understand the guidelines and rules around noisy DIY work in your area, you will need to check with your local council.

What are the laws about building work on a Saturday and Sunday? 

The rules around building work are different at the weekend, with greater limits on what work can take place. Generally on a Saturday, building work can take place between 8am and 1pm. However, there is some variation between different local authority areas, and it is important to check this with the Environmental Health department at the relevant council. The rules around working on a Sunday are generally more restrictive, with most areas prohibiting noisy work. This also usually applies to Bank Holidays.

However, sometimes work can be done at the weekend and outside of the normal designated hours if there isn’t a viable alternative. Permission for this may be given when the work needs doing on a very urgent or emergency basis, for example to correct a problem that is disrupting the electrical or water supply to people’s homes. There may also be circumstances which make it impossible to do the work during normal working hours, for example work on train tracks, which can often only be done at night when the trains aren’t running. In these exceptional circumstances however, the council may serve additional notices on those carrying out the work to limit the kinds of machinery they use or require measures to be taken to minimise noise pollution.

Noisy building work: What are your rights, and what should you do? 

Generally issued guidelines recommend that if a resident feels that building work near their home is too noisy or is occurring outside of the allowed hours, they should start by talking to the builders rather than making formal complaints. This gives construction workers a chance to correct any practices which are in breach of the rules, or are causing significant disruption, before any further action is taken. Most issues around noisy building work can be resolved in this way.

However, if noisy work is being done outside of the hours outlined by the law, then residents have the right to complain to the local authority. If the complaint is found to be legitimate then the council can issue a noise control notice to the offenders, and if they continue not to comply, then a fine of up to £20,000 per offence can be imposed.

Organisations such as the Considerate Constructors Scheme are involved in ensuring high building standards, maintaining a positive image and reputation for the construction industry, and minimising the impact of building work on the public. Building sites, construction companies and suppliers are able to sign up to this scheme, which will then monitor their activity. When a site is registered with the scheme, posters are displayed around the site displaying the name and contact details for the site manager or the owner of the building company involved, which allows members of the public to easily draw attention to anything that is causing an issue.

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