Giovanni Valle is a licensed architect and LEED-accredited professional and is certified by the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB). He is the author and managing editor of various digital publications, including BuilderSpace, Your Own Architect, and Interiors Place.
Most people have had the experience of trying to sleep in, only to be woken by the clanging of a nail gun or roar of a leaf blower. Perhaps you have been the person yelling at a construction worker about using power tools too early or the laborer being yelled at. Whoever you are, knowledge of the laws surrounding construction start times will inform you if you are in the right.
Construction in residential areas in most states is permitted to start between 7 am-8 am and end between 8 pm-9 am, Monday through Friday. However, some towns and cities may have local laws prohibiting power tools during specific time windows.
This article will clearly state the rules surrounding construction start times in most states, why construction starts early, and the penalties for noise violations. So let’s get started.
How Early Is Construction Allowed To Start?
How early construction is allowed to start varies state by state, but generally, construction is allowed to begin at 7 am during the week. On Saturdays, construction typically begins at 8 am, and on Sundays, it is not usually allowed.
The debate over what time of the day construction should be allowed to start is primarily a divide between homeowners and company owners.
Every once in a while, on a local news station, viewers can find a story about a group of town residents pushing to ban the use of leaf blowers in the morning hours or enact restrictions on legal construction hours.
These demands call into question what the rights of a business are versus the rights of private citizens. To understand how complicated this debate is, one needs first to know why construction starts so early.
Why Does Construction Start So Early?
Construction starts so early to maximize profits, avoid the heat of the summer, and so that young parents can be home for their children after school. They also start early in case they need supplies from businesses that are only open that early.
The typical workday for a construction worker goes from 7 am until around 3:30 in the afternoon.
However, sometimes businesses take on big projects that push the workday past 3:30. An early start time allows any overtime hours to not run late into the evening. More hours means more pay for workers and more profits for businesses.
They Need Supplies
The businesses that support landscape and construction have similar hours. Most companies that construction businesses rely on for supplies close before 5 pm. Doing work outside the time window that these businesses are open is inconvenient to workers. Furthermore, it would make jobs go on longer, driving up the work cost to homeowners.
Avoid the Heat
Construction starts early to avoid the heat.
Often construction or landscape sites do not have a lot of shade, resulting in an increased risk of heatstroke. It is estimated that almost 400 laborers have died of heatstroke on the job in the last decade alone.
Starting work early in the day allows tasks requiring sun exposure to finish before the day’s highest temperature.
To Coincide With School Schedules
Construction starts early for workers with children.
Most schools in the United States get out between 2-3 pm. The early start time of construction allows parents to get an entire workday in and be out of work at roughly the same time that their children get out of school.
Can You Call the Police on Construction Workers?
If construction work is occurring outside of its legal time window, you can call the non-emergency line of your local police station and file a noise complaint. The police will tell you if the noise of the work is legal or not.
When To File a Noise Complaint
In many places, it is illegal for loud power tools to be used on a Sunday. If you hear constant drilling or leaf blowing during your Sunday morning coffee, you may be in the right to file a noise complaint.
If the noise is occurring on a Saturday, it may still be legal. There is variation in the hours in which construction noise is lawful on Saturdays. Before calling the police, look up the local laws surrounding noise in your area.
However, if the noise occurs during legal hours but is disruptive to you, you can try talking to the project manager. Though it is unlikely that they will be able to stop construction completely, they may alter the timeframe that they do things to minimize noise at times where quiet is crucial to you.
If You Can’t File a Noise Complaint
If you are a homeowner, you may find that there are situations in which there is nothing you can do about construction noise. The company doing the work is doing it legally, but you are still bothered by the noise.
In this case, consider purchasing noise-canceling headphones. They may not make the construction go away, but they will dampen the noise. Or, if you’re trying to sleep in on the weekend, you might try using earplugs to make the noise go away altogether.
What Construction Companies Should Know About Noise Laws
If construction occurs outside a legal time window or violates a local or state noise law, the company in question could be fined. Depending on the laws where the offense occurs, the fine could be expensive.
What Noise Ordinances Allow and Don’t Allow
Project managers in both construction and landscape must look into the local noise ordinances of the towns where they work. Many places have precise rules about what kind of noise requires a permit.
In some cities, the use of a jackhammer requires issuing a permit to use it for an allotted time frame. However, the issuing of a license doesn’t require neighbors to be notified about its use.
In other places, the use of leaf blowers is banned outright.
Some towns require that types of equipment that make loud noise be used in a specific time window. Using equipment outside its allotted time window could result in a misdemeanor in someplace.
Violating these local noise ordinances could result in heavy fines.
The Newton, MA Example
Typically, fines are given for every noise offense. Here is an example from the Newton, MA noise laws of what a standard noise penalty might entail:
“Penalties. Violation of any of the provisions of this section shall constitute a misdemeanor, and any person, upon conviction of such violation, shall be fined an amount not to exceed three hundred dollars ($300.00). Each day that such violation continues shall be considered to be a separate offense.”
Whether you are a construction worker or a disgruntled homeowner, understanding your local noise ordinances is key to helping you navigate debates over the noise in your community.
Look up your local laws and state laws surrounding noise. If you find that you can’t reach a diplomatic solution to noise control through discussion, call the police on their non-emergency line and see if you can file a noise complaint.
Whatever the case may be, understanding the laws of your community will allow you to navigate the situation with clear legal knowledge.
- Homex.com: How early can you do construction in a residential area?
- Pewtrusts.org: Scorching Heat Is Killing Workers. Some States Are Stepping In. | The Pew Charitable Trusts
- Realestate.usnews.com: What Are Your Rights When It Comes to Nearby Construction? | Real Estate | US News
- Nonoise.org: Newton, Massachusetts.pdf
- Mykukun.com: Construction Start Time in a Residential Neighborhood, What to expect?
- Construction Yeti: 7 Reasons Why Construction Workers Start so Early
- Chicago Tribune: Early start, early finish is best for contractors
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