Business, industry and planning guidance

Noise in residential construction and renovation for builders and home owners

This page relates to commonplace construction work at houses and apartments, carried out by residents or by builders.

General residential construction and renovation refers to smaller scale projects in residential areas. It can be useful for construction or renovation activities on a home, townhouse or apartment(s).

All residential construction sites are subject to s48A(3) of the Environment Protection Act 1970, which prohibits unreasonable noise from residential premises, including premises under construction.

In addition, the Environment Protection (Residential Noise) Regulations 2008 make it an offence to emit noise from construction equipment and vehicles, where it can be heard in neighbouring residential premises.

Hours where construction equipment noise is prohibited (noise may still be unreasonable outside of these times):

  • 8 pm - 7 am Monday to Friday
  • 8 pm - 9 am Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays.

However, these prohibited times are a minimum requirement and do not mean that all construction work will be acceptable outside of these times.

Owners, occupiers and builders should be aware of noise impacts at all times of day and take reasonable steps to reduce noise. It is best to talk with neighbours about the project and when they are most sensitive to noise and manage:

  • Work hours. Avoid noisy 7-day a week work where possible, and continuous noisier work from 7 am - 8 pm, by finishing the working day earlier. Where projects require the longer work hours, be sensitive and try to schedule quieter work to the evenings or weekends.
  • Sunday work. The Regulations set times when use of equipment is considered to be automatically unreasonable if audible to neighbours. The Regulations do not distinguish between a resident occasionally using equipment and home construction activity by a builder. It is not automatically unreasonable for residents to use construction equipment over the weekend.
    However, if a residential construction site makes loud noise on a Sunday or late Saturday, this might be considered unreasonable noise under section the EP Act. This might be the case where work has carried on for many days, or a contractor is routinely doing noisy Sunday work to make up for lost time.
  • Site preparation such as moving materials before 7 am weekdays or 9 am weekends. Such works would likely be unreasonable if they were loud enough to disturb neighbours. Quietly conducted preparation or work such as painting, away from neighbouring bedrooms, may be acceptable.
  • Use of very loud equipment at inappropriate times. Where practical, organise short-term noisier jobs so they don’t occur first-thing in the workday. Also, if appropriate, try to manage noisier work around sensitive periods such as young children’s sleep time in the day.
  • Intensive stages of work (e.g., breaking a concrete slab). Discuss with neighbours early on, and consider providing regular short breaks, or a longer break during the workday, where neighbours are strongly impacted.
  • Morning truck movements and concrete pours. Noise from idling vehicles is not permitted during the prohibited times. Where possible, manage deliveries so they don’t occur within these times. If vehicles arrive shortly before the work times, ensure that engines are not left running. Even if vehicles have to arrive early to avoid traffic impacts, equipment or vehicle unloading may have to be deferred until after 7 am weekdays, 9 am weekends.
  • Conduct. Loud talking early in the morning can disturb neighbours as much as the work itself. Before 7 am weekdays and 9 am weekends, keep voices to a minimum. Be aware of where neighbours might be sleeping.
  • Site and car radios. These may be a problem when near to bedrooms, or when loud enough to bother neighbours throughout their living and recreation areas. Noise can be managed by keeping radios close to workers, and at a lower volume.

Page last updated on 6 Jan 2020