Prohibited times for residential noise

The table below shows how the Residential Noise Regulations are applied. They can affect some large residential building projects.

Group Prescribed items Prohibited times


  • Motor vehicles (but not when entering or leaving a site).
  • Lawnmowers or other grass-cutting devices.
  • Any equipment with an internal combustion engine not in group 2.

Monday to Friday before 7 am or after 8 pm.

Weekends and public holidays before 9 am or after 8 pm.


  • Electric power tools, chainsaws or circular saws. 
  • Gas or air compressors.
  • Pneumatic power tools, hammers or other impacting tools or grinding equipment.

Monday to Friday before 7 am or after 8 pm.

Weekends and public holidays before 9 am or after 8 pm.


  • Home heat pumps. 
  • Swimming pool, spa or water pumps except when used to fill a header tank.
  • Home heaters (including central heating and hot water systems). 
  • Vacuum cleaners.

Monday to Friday before 7 am or after 10 pm.

Weekends and public holidays before 9 am or after 10 pm.


  •  An air conditioner, evaporative cooler or split system used for cooling.*

 Monday to Friday before 7 am and after 11 pm.

Weekends and public holidays before 9 am and after 11 pm.


  • Musical instruments.
  • Electric audio goods, including stereos, radios, TVs and public address systems.

Monday to Thursday before 7 am or after 10 pm.

Friday before 7 am or after 11 pm.

Saturday and public holidays before 9 am or after 11 pm.

Sunday before 9 am or after 10 pm.


  • Electrical goods not in group 2, 3 or 4, including gardening tools.
  • Not equipment for personal care or grooming, or for food heating, cooling or preparation.

Monday to Friday before 7 am or after 8 pm.

Weekends and public holidays before 9 am or after 8 pm.


*Air conditioning noise is exempt from the residential noise regulations during a heat health alert.

Prohibited times apply when the noise can be heard inside a habitable room of another residence.

Residential noise can still be unreasonable outside the prohibited times.

FAQs about prohibited times for residential noise + Expand all Collapse all

  • What is residential noise?

    Noise can be defined as ‘unwanted sound’. What may be pleasurable sound to one person can be noise to another. Over time, noise can cause significant impacts on health and wellbeing — especially when it disturbs sleep.

    Residential noise means any noise emitted from the home, land used in connection with the home such as on the nature strip or in a garage, and noise from houses and apartments under construction. Residential noise is usually most disturbing when it is loud, continues for long periods, or occurs at inappropriate times.

  • Are there standards for daytime residential noise?

    Residential noise might be unreasonable depending on its volume, intensity and duration, and the time, place and circumstances in which it is emitted. Noise can be unreasonable based on any of these elements. EPA has noise level guidelines for daytime and evening noise from equipment such as air conditioners and pool pumps. See the Noise control guidelines and Cool air: quietly and efficiently on the noise publications page.

  • Can I work on a residential construction site (such as home renovation, building houses or apartments) during the prohibited times?

    Site preparation, such as moving materials before 7 am weekdays or 9 am weekends, would likely be unreasonable if it was loud enough to disturb neighbours during sensitive times. It is an offence to cause unreasonable noise and penalties can apply under the Environment Protection Act 1970. In some cases, quietly conducted preparation or work such as painting, away from neighbouring bedrooms, might be acceptable. We suggest you talk with your neighbours when planning construction work.

  • Is noise always acceptable outside the prohibited times?

    No. Noise must not be unreasonable at any time during the day. Noise in the day or evening that continues for too long, or is too loud might be unreasonable. Noise that disturbs neighbours throughout their living and recreation areas is likely to be a problem. All reasonable steps should be taken to reduce and control noise.

  • Are water pumps filling a header tank covered under the regulations?

    Yes. A water pump being used to fill a header tank (for example, collecting river or bore water, or moving water between two tanks) fall under ‘General electric equipment’ in group 5 of the regulations.

  • Do the Regulations apply to water pumps connected to sanitary fixtures?

    Yes. EPA expects that pumps serving sanitary systems can be used at any time, because routine installation should make them inaudible. If a pump is audible because of inappropriate location or installation, then the Regulations provide a trigger to address the disturbance. This gives flexibility and responsibility to the pump owner and protects others from unreasonable noise.

  • Can activities not listed in the regulations and voices be unreasonable?

    Yes. Such noise might be unreasonable when it is discretionary or could be easily controlled. For example, a group of people talking outdoors late at night, keeping neighbours awake, or noisy maintenance work using tools not listed in the regulations.

  • Who is responsible for helping to manage residential noise issues?

    Often the best approach for dealing with noisy neighbours is to talk to them and work together on a solution to settle the problem. Police or your local council can also assist. Please see our publication Annoyed by noise? (publication 406) for more information.

Page last updated on 12 Oct 2018