Construction site noise

To balance industry needs with the needs of our residents and businesses, we require landowners, including developers and site workers, to follow limits on noise and working hours.

Published

Covid-19 – Changes to working conditions

The NSW Government has issued new orders to support construction of commercial development and infrastructure as the economy recovers from the Covid-19 pandemic.

This means some construction works can take place on weekends and public holidays in the City of Sydney area.

Noise limits still apply to these works. Noisy equipment, such as rock breakers and pile drivers, is not permitted for extended periods for these works.

These orders are in effect until withdrawn by the Minister for Planning.

Building new neighbourhoods and fairly managing noise

No-one wants to live or work next to a noisy building site. But it takes construction work to make new places, and construction work causes construction noise.

To balance industry needs with the needs of our residents and businesses, we require landowners, including developers and site workers, to follow limits on noise and working hours.

Our code of practice for construction hours and noise set limits for different types of development in the city centre.

In more residential areas, construction noise limits still apply but these hours are more restricted.

We may also require developers and site managers to:

  • include measures to reduce noise in development applications
  • better evaluate the impacts of using noisy equipment such as rock breakers and pile drivers and restrict their use or use alternative devices
  • get advice from qualified and competent acoustic consultants on noise-compliance measures
  • do community consultation and manage complaints
  • use respite periods for certain activities or do some noisy work at less sensitive times.

Cities are noisy places. But construction site managers are responsible for taking reasonable and feasible actions to manage and mitigate noise.

Noise control levels

Construction noise may be louder or more noticeable than other sounds around you, such as road traffic or an air conditioner.

A construction site’s noise control levels depend on the type of work, the time it takes place, and pre-existing noise levels in the area. We evaluate this in the development approval process and any communications we have with the developer.

Work at more sensitive times usually has stricter noise controls and requires more management of the site’s activities.

Higher noise levels may be allowed depending on the duration of the work and how essential this is to complete a project.

Allowable work times

We ask developers and site managers to:

  • restrict all potentially noisy construction activities from 7am to 7pm Monday to Friday and from 7am to 5pm Saturday for projects in the city centre
  • work from 7.30am to 5.30pm Monday to Friday and 7.30am to 3.30pm Saturday in other parts of our local government area.
  • not work on Sundays or public holidays anywhere in our local area.

In some cases these hours may be modified to restrict the use of particularly noisy machinery such as rock breakers, rock saws and pile drivers.

Noisy works that may cause other types of disruption, such as closing a street to erect a tower crane, may be allowed at other times. There still has to be genuine need or benefit for these works. These works are assessed case by case and are still subject to noise criteria.

Management plans, high impact activities, community consultation and site contact details

If construction works are likely to have a significant impact on the local community, we may ask the developer to take steps to address these before works start. These include providing management plans, a detailed assessment of proposed high impact activities, and a community consultation processes.

This is normally done as part of the development application process. These documents must be prepared by a suitably qualified person, such as a professional acoustic consultant. The developer must then comply with the noise controls.

Noise management plans (as well as noise impact assessments) must detail:

  • the relevant noise criteria
  • the planned hours of work
  • any significant works that will take place at these times, and any that are likely to exceed noise controls
  • what steps will be taken to mitigate this, including reducing noise levels.

If very high or excessive noise impacts are predicted, we may ask for a detailed review of that activity. This includes reviewing if the activity is necessary and if any noise needs to be further managed through time limits or alternative work methods.

We may ask for and review a community consultation plan before longer term construction works or higher noise levels can take place.

Consultation requirements depend on the length and intensity of the proposed work, but usually include providing notice before works start and liaising with the affected community.

Clear contact information should be provided in accessible places around the outside of the construction site. Staff should be available to respond to the community when noisy works are taking place. The builder should provide advance of notice of higher noise levels, and document all complaints and any actions taken to mitigate noise.

If unexpected problems with noise take place, we can require the developer to amend noise management plans, work methods and operating hours.

What to do if you think noise is excessive

If you consider there is a genuine reason you are affected by unreasonable construction noise, you should first contact the construction site and attempt to resolve the issue with them directly.

If you are responsible for managing noise on a site and receive a complaint you should, within reason, liaise genuinely with the complainant and treat the issue seriously. You may need to handle the complaint in line with any relevant community consultation, take steps to objectively test noise levels, and ensure noise mitigation procedures are in place.

If the issue cannot be resolved, the builder or the complainant can raise the issue with us. We will act independently and deal with the issue in line with our enforcement policy.

To keep improving our city, we're reviewing the code of practice for construction noise and plan to update it in the future.

Contacts

If you have any questions about the code, or an issue with construction noise, please contact: