Business, industry and planning guidance

Noise in commercial construction sites and large residential and mixed-use developments

This page relates to building of large developments such as supermarkets or apartment blocks.  

EPA provides guidelines that apply to many large commercial and residential construction projects. Section 48A, Unreasonable noise from residential premises of the Environment Protection Act 1970 also applies to residential premises under construction, including mixed used developments. These particular controls depend on the specific site under construction.

Commercial construction and demolition sites

For commercial construction sites (e.g. shops, supermarket, offices, factories) EPA’s Noise control guidelines (PDF 0.18MB) applies. The guidelines also apply to large scale demolition sites. They do not apply to apartments or mixed residential/commercial sites in residential areas, or home renovation.

EPA provides the guidelines as a reference for government and industry to manage noise impacts and working hours. The guidelines should be read in full, because they cover work hours, noise management and community notification expectations.

Councils generally manage construction site issues, including commercial construction site noise. They can apply the guidelines through permits and local laws, or as a reference in compliance decisions.

Normal work hours for commercial construction and demolition sites:

  • 7 am – 6 pm weekdays
  • 7 am – 1 pm Saturday

The guidelines also allow for some flexibility for work hours depending on the circumstances of the noise. For example, quiet work such as painting in the evening may be allowed (see the guideline for more information).

If a council has a local law or other statutory control different from the guidelines, this will apply, as EPA’s Noise control guidelines are not law.

Large-scale residential developments in non-residential zones

These are residential or mixed-use premises under construction that:

  • will have at least four storeys above ground when complete or two storeys below ground
  • are in a non-residential zone (e.g. Business Zones and Special Purpose Zones, but not the Mixed Use Zone – typically large development areas or shopping strips)
  • are not occupied (if an existing building under alteration).

Two main controls apply to these sites:

  • Section 48A of the EP Act applies. This makes it an offence to cause unreasonable noise from any residential premises, including premises under construction. Construction noise can be unreasonable because it goes on for too long, or is excessive in the circumstances.
  • The Noise control guidelines apply. They describe how to manage noise so it is not unreasonable under s48A. They can be implemented through local laws or permits. The guidelines ensure that commercial and residential construction of similar scale and circumstances are treated the same way.

Normal work hours for large-scale residential developments in non-residential zones:

  • 7 am – 6 pm weekdays
  • 7 am – 1 pm Saturday

Other large residential developments

Other large residential developments can include construction of apartments (including mixed developments) or multiple dwellings on a subdivision. These do not include the large-scale sites in non-residential zones described above. Two main controls apply to these sites:

  • The residential noise regulations prohibited times apply. This means that, as a minimum requirement, noise from equipment must not be audible to neighbours after 8 pm and before 7 am on weekdays and 9 am on weekends and public holidays.
  • Section 48A of the EP Act applies. This makes it an offence to cause unreasonable noise from any residential premises, including premises under construction. Construction noise can be unreasonable because it goes on for too long or is excessive in the circumstances. This requirement covers noise occurring outside of the prohibited times.

The regulations set a wide range of times for both builders and residents to use noisy equipment, but continuous, intrusive work throughout the non-prohibited times is likely to be unreasonable.

This can be a particular issue with large scale sites in residential areas. Large sites are also expected to minimise their environmental impacts wherever possible. To prevent excessive noise, these sites should therefore follow the advice in the Noise control guidelines where appropriate.

This means that these sites need to:

  • adopt proper community consultation and work scheduling as described in the Noise control guidelines, such as notifying residents and avoiding work at sensitive times
  • adopt the work requirements in the Regulations, such as managing delivery times
  • not operate audible vehicles or equipment before 7 am on weekdays or 9 am at weekends, or after 8 pm on any day (to follow the residential noise Regulations’ prohibited times)
  • Generally avoid noisy work after 6 pm on weekdays, Sundays and later afternoon and evening on Saturdays (adopting work hour advice from the Noise control guidelines).

Normal work hours for large residential developments in residential areas:

  • 7 am – 6 pm weekdays
  • 9 am – 1 pm Saturday

A later Saturday finishing time may be acceptable for sites with a 9 am start. The local council can manage decisions on these issues, with EPA advice where required.

Page last updated on 6 Jan 2020