Residential construction includes building: 

  • apartments 
  • townhouses 
  • houses 
  • mixed-use developments. 

The general environmental duty applies to residential construction, demolition and renovating activities. This means if you manage or control construction and demolition activities you must understand and proactively manage the risks of harm from noise to people or the environment.

Under the Environment Protection Act 2017, you must not emit unreasonable noise from residential construction sites, at any time of day.

Construction noise can be unreasonable if it goes on for too long or is excessive under the circumstances.

Construction – guide to preventing harm to people and the environment (publication 1820) explains to how to manage the risks in construction and what actions you can take to comply with the law.

Repair or maintenance of an existing building on residential land comes under the residential noise laws.

Managing residential construction noise

The Civil construction, building and demolition guide (publication 1834) provides information to help industry manage noise impacts from residential construction sites. This guide is also relevant for demolition on commercial and industrial land, including when land is being redeveloped for residential use. The guide doesn’t apply to the maintenance or repair of existing buildings.

You should take reasonable steps to reduce noise from residential construction. Ways to manage construction noise include: 

  • restricting work and vehicle movements to normal working hours 
  • scheduling noisy activities to less sensitive times 
  • advising neighbours of noisy activities 
  • providing signs with contact details for builder or project manager 
  • using the lowest noise equipment or technique to do the job 
  • site and car radios – keep radios close to workers, and at a lower volume.  

Learn more about the different working hours and requirements you need to comply with, by residential construction type.

Unreasonable noise from construction

EPA has published the unreasonable noise guidelines.

The guidelines explain the concept of unreasonable noise and the pathways for assessing if construction noise is unreasonable. They also cover how unreasonable noise works with the general environmental duty and provide case study examples of compliance, enforcement and resolution of noise pollution events. 

More ways to prevent unreasonable noise

Other ways to prevent unreasonable noise when building individual houses or small unit developments include managing:

  • work hours – avoid doing noisy work, seven days a week. Where projects need longer work hours, schedule quieter work for between 6 pm and 8 pm or on weekends
  • site preparation – avoid early morning site preparation works, such as moving materials, before 7 am weekdays or 9 am weekends
  • noisier work – arrange for short-term, noisier activities to occur later in the workday, not early in the morning. Give regular short breaks, or a longer break during the workday
  • morning truck movements and concrete pours – manage deliveries so they occur within normal working hours. If vehicles arrive shortly before the normal work times, turn the engines off
  • behaviour – loud talking early in the morning can disturb neighbours as much as the work itself. Keep voices to a minimum before 7 am weekdays and 9 am weekends.

Our advice for normal working hours

The Civil construction, building and demolition guide (publication 1834), advises normal working hours for residential construction and demolition site noise are:

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

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’s advice where required.

The guidelines do allow for some flexibility for work hours, depending on the circumstances of the noise. For example, quiet work like painting in the evening.

Normal working hours for construction of large-scale residential developments in non-residential zones are:

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

Large-scale multi-storey residential construction in non-residential zones are residential or mixed-use buildings under construction that are:

  • at least four storeys above ground, or two storeys below ground
  • in a non-residential zone such as business zones and special purpose zones, but not a mixed-use zone.

Read more about construction noise

Noise guidance for business: Commercial construction

Noise guidance for business: Land development

Construction noise

Reviewed 8 May 2023