What Time Can Builders Start Work in the UK?

A UK building site

Last updated: March 9, 2022 at 9:43 am

Almost all of us have needed to employ builders at some point. We know that builders like to get an early start, to fit in as much of the job as possible. It is particularly an issue in winter when light is limited. However, although we can understand they need to do their job, it’s less than fun when our sleep is disturbed by builders starting work early near our home.

So, what is the law surrounding the hours that builders are permitted to carry out noisy work? Is it the same in all countries in the UK? Is work on Sunday permitted?

What Time Can Builders Start Work In The UK?

There is no official time across the United Kingdom governing the hours noisy work is permitted. The reason is that a piece of legislation, the Control of Pollution Act 1974, granted each local authority the power to set the times noisy areas, such as construction sites, are allowed to operate.

It differs slightly between local authority areas, but the majority allow noisy activities between 8am and 6pm Monday to Friday. This does not mean the site has to be deserted between these hours. If the builders are not carrying out noisy jobs, they can work outside of these hours. This includes getting set up in the morning or doing quiet jobs like painting or laying turf after 6pm.

Related: Is It Illegal to Play Loud Music After 11pm?

What Constitutes Noisy Work?

Most councils specify noisy work covers any activity that can be heard beyond the construction site’s boundary. It covers all sounds, and even if builders are merely shouting to one another, the legislation applies. It also covers the use of power tools, large plant equipment and erecting or dismantling scaffolding.

What About Saturdays and Sundays?

Again, this varies, so you’ll need to check this out with your local council if you want specific times. As a rough guide, many councils allow noisy work between 8am and 1pm on Saturdays. This, admittedly, is still early if you enjoy a long lie-in. However, the council tries to balance the needs of nearby residents with the needs of the construction industry.

Sundays are less clear cut. For example, many councils ban all noisy work on Sundays and bank holidays. However, some councils do allow work on Sunday between certain hours, so where in doubt, consult your council’s website for the times permitted in your area.

Are There Any Exceptions to These Rules?

what time can builders start work

Councils acknowledge that some work must be carried out outside of the normally permitted hours. This can include emergency work as well as work on railway lines or large-scale projects on major thoroughfares such as increasing the number of lanes on a motorway.

Emergency work on railways is naturally seen as a safety issue. For that reason, local councils do not have the authority to prevent work that the rail company or Network Rail consider essential. For this reason, any complaints about noise should be made to Network Rail directly rather than the council’s environmental health department.

If a building is dangerous, for example, following a fire or a vehicle collides with it, the council may need to carry out emergency work outside of the standard hours. They usually will only carry out the minimum work required to make the building safe. Any other work will be carried out during the day.

If the council is not carrying out the work themselves, they can serve a notice on the builders. The notice will set out how they should carry out the work to avoid being considered a statutory nuisance as per the Environmental Protection Act 1990.

The notice can cover all aspects of the work, including:

  • Maximum noise level
  • Which types of plant or machinery are permitted?
  • The specific hours when the work can be carried out
  • Any steps that must be taken to minimise noise and disruption to residents

It’s in the builders’ best interests to adhere to these restrictions. If they don’t comply with the notice or otherwise violate local noise laws, they can face prosecution, unlimited fines, and additional fines every day they do not comply.

What About Tradesmen in My Home or DIY?

Any professional tradesperson must comply with the same laws and restrictions that they would on any building site. Therefore, the fact that the work is being carried out in your home is irrelevant. In fact, they may have to be even more careful as they are working near other homes.

The laws for DIY are less clear cut. It is accepted that most people work, and therefore some, if not all, DIY will be carried out outside of normal business hours. The relevant legislation here is the Noise Act (1996).

The act states that 11pm to 7am are classed as nighttime, and therefore no noisy work of any kind should be carried out during these hours. Unless it is an emergency, a burst pipe, for example, it is wiser not to do any work at all during these hours.

That does not mean you are free to do DIY whenever you like outside of these times, though. These are legal limits, but the council can still act if your DIY is negatively impacting your neighbours outside these hours. Many councils suggest suitable times for you to complete DIY projects. They aren’t law, but they are a good rule of thumb.

Many councils suggest the following hours:

  • Mon – Fri – 9.00am to 7.30pm
  • Saturdays – 9.00am to 5.00pm
  • Sunday and Bank Holiday – 10.00am – 2.00pm

It’s understandable to want to get your home the way you want it but never underestimate the importance and benefits of being on good terms with your neighbours. Life is much easier if you can rely on them during a crisis, and a chat over the garden fence can be a pleasant way to pass the time. A little consideration goes a long way.

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About the Author: AJ

AJ is a self-confessed soundproofing nut. He has written full-time on Quiet Living for the past 4 years, and has a wealth of knowledge about living a quieter life, soundproofing and fixing loud noises.

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