What time can building work start?

What time can building work start?

Having noisy neighbours is a fate that most of us would not wish on our worst enemy. But at what point does construction work become too noisy, from a legal point of view? Where do we draw the line where noise becomes a nuisance?

Luckily for you, we’re here with the facts so that you know what your rights are and what you can do if you’re having trouble with your neighbours’ noisy work.

What time can building work start in the UK?

Any building work taking place in a public area or on a construction site in the UK has to follow the rules of the Control of Pollution Act 1974. The act set out rules that were put in place to protect the public against noise and air pollution. The main rules to remember are as follows:

  • Noisy work can start at 8am and should end by 6pm from Monday to Friday
  • Noisy work can start at 8am and should end by 1pm on Saturdays

You’ll notice how specific the rules are about ‘noisy’ work. This is because builders can actually arrive on site and start working before 8am, and finish work after 6pm (or 1pm on Saturdays), they just can’t do noisy work outside of those hours. All of the following are treated as noisy work:

  • Using hand tools (eg hammers)
  • Using power tools (eg drills)
  • Using plant equipment (eg heavy machinery like diggers or cranes)
  • Using pile drivers
  • Erecting and dismantling scaffolding
  • Working in partition walls (the walls that connect your house to your neighbours)

The act set out general guidelines, but it also gave local authorities the power to control noise pollution more independently. This means your local authority might have its own rules for the exact times when work can start and stop, and the type of work that can be done. It might be a good idea to check with your local authority if you’re worried that work is being done at a bad time.

Can you do building work on a Sunday?

The same Control of Pollution Act 1974 also set out the rules for work happening on Sundays and bank holidays. The rules, in this case, tend to be pretty restrictive, and in most parts of the country, noisy work is banned on Sundays and bank holidays.

That being said, there is always the possibility for some exceptions to the rule. Local authorities might give permission for certain work to be done if there isn’t a chance for it to be done during normal hours. For example, work on train tracks is more likely to be done at night or at the weekend when trains aren’t running or services are reduced. If the council expects particularly noisy work to be happening outside of normal hours they might give people living nearby a warning in advance.

If you’re worried about work before it takes place, you can check out our blog ‘How to appeal planning permission.

Can my neighbour do DIY on the weekend?

Local authorities only tend to directly impose restrictions on public construction work. If your neighbour is doing DIY, there aren’t any laws in place that require them to restrict noisy work to certain hours. So your neighbour would generally be allowed to do DIY work at the weekend, including Sunday.

Generally, people are expected to be reasonable when doing noisy DIY work. If you are having a problem, you could talk to your neighbour and ask them to keep the noise between these times:

  • 9am and 7:30pm Monday to Friday
  • 9am and 5pm on Saturdays
  • 10am and 2pm on Sundays

If you feel that your neighbour is being particularly noisy at unreasonable times for extended periods, you might be able to complain to the council that they are causing a nuisance.

If you’re undertaking some of your own work and are wondering about more of the rules, you can check out our blog ‘What is a Build Over Agreement’.

How to complain about your neighbour’s building work

If you feel that any building work is too noisy and is causing unnecessary disruption, you might be able to make a complaint. Before that though, it can be a good idea to have a chat with the builders doing the work. If it’s a public construction site, the builders might be a part of the Considerate Constructors Scheme, which means all of their contact details should be easily accessible, possibly even displayed outside the construction site. If you think the work is too noisy or happening outside of reasonable hours, you might be able to get in touch with them and ask them to keep it down.

If your neighbour is having work done privately that you feel is too noisy, you could talk to them directly to ask them to reduce the noise or restrict noise to certain hours. Your neighbour might have even gotten in touch with you before the work started, so it can be a good start to just have a quick chat with them.

In either case, if the noise continues and they show no willingness to stop, you can officially complain to your local authority. They might let you know that the work has a special exception, but if they feel your complaint is valid, they can issue a notice to the construction site or your neighbour. This notice could outline a few different guidelines for the construction to follow, such as:

  • A noise level they have to keep to
  • The type of machinery they can use
  • The hours when they can work

If the noise continues without any change, the local authority can issue them with a statutory noise complaint, which can come with a fine of up to £20,000. That would tend to make the noise stop.

If you would rather not complain to your local authority and potentially land your neighbour with a £20,000 fine, you could try alternative methods of resolution. These might include independent mediation or even a private injunction, but it might be a good idea to just start with a chat over a cup of tea.

If you’re having more problems with your neighbours, you can check out our blog ‘Problem neighbours in rented property.’

A few final tips…

Here are a last few things to remember about the time building work can start in the UK:

  • Noisy building work on public construction sites can start at 8am Monday to Saturday
  • Noisy building work on public construction sites can go until 6pm during the week and until 1pm on Saturdays
  • Noisy building work on public construction sites isn’t supposed to happen on Sundays or bank holidays
  • Private work and DIY doesn’t have explicit legal restrictions, your neighbours are just supposed to be reasonable
  • Special cases might get to start earlier and finish later if the council thinks it’s necessary
  • If you want to complain, it’s a good idea to start off with a simple chat, but you can talk to your local authority if you feel people are being unreasonable

Urban Jungle is not a financial advisor and information in this article should not be taken as advice or recommendation.