What time can builders start work in residential areas

Builders across the United Kingdom are expected to follow strict guidelines on when to start work on construction sites within residential areas. Primarily, the reason is to prevent disturbance to the sleep of nearby residents while construction work is ongoing. However, it is almost inevitable for construction workers to wait for everyone to wake up before they start work. So, the law imposes some working hours to keep the inevitable disruption to the barest minimum.

Below is compiled an easy-to-use guide on when builders can work in UK residential areas.

Two builders on a crane at construction site.

When Can Builders Work in UK Residential Areas?

There are no uniform construction working hours for Builders across the United Kingdom. Instead, the Control of Pollution Act of 1974 grants local councils the authority to choose when noisy areas like construction sites are allowed to operate. While working hours vary, most local councils fit hours into three categories ‒ weekdays, weekends, Sundays, and bank holidays. We will now consider each of these categories.

When Can Builders Work During the Week?

During the week, from Mondays to Fridays, the standard hours in which noisy construction work is acceptable in the UK are between 8 am and 6 pm.

However, this does not mean that construction sites are expected to be deserted during those hours. If builders are carrying out non-noisy tasks, like laying turf, screening, painting, and the like, they can work outside of those hours. Also, the law permits construction workers to enter the site premises before 8 am to prepare for the day’s work.

When can builders work at weekends?

During weekends, Builders have limited time to do noisy construction work in residential areas. The reason is that most people are home at weekends, especially on Saturdays, and need to rest. Most councils allow construction activities to commence at 8 am, as on weekdays, but often give them a shorter work day, expecting them to stop noisy work around 1 pm. Builders who fail to follow these restrictions may get a local council note and can expect to pay a fine or face prosecution. 

Builder is working on a site

Are builders allowed to work on Sundays and Bank Holidays?

Sundays are generally regarded as part of the weekend, but for purposes of noise pollution regulations, they are lumped together with bank holidays. The rules regarding construction work on these days are more restrictive than on weekdays and regular weekends. Noisy construction activities like demolitions, fabrication/erection of structural steel work, brickwork, scaffolding erection/dismantling, and other work activities involving the use of power tools are often prohibited on Sundays and bank holidays. In some areas, carrying out such activities is not only prohibited, but they are also regarded as illegal. 

Are There Any Exceptions?

In certain situations, local city councils may permit builders to work outside the permitted hours. However, this exception often only applies in cases of an emergency. For example, suppose a building is deemed dangerous after a fire or a vehicle rams into it. The local council may allow emergency repairs to go on outside regular working hours. Builders, in this case, are permitted to do only the minimum work required to keep the building safe and then continue the rest during the day. 

For emergency repairs, the council may also serve the Builders notices regarding how they should work ‒ more like a work method statement to avoid creating a statutory nuisance under the Environmental Protection Act of 1990. Usually, such a notice would include the kind of machines to be used, the maximum noise level, and other necessary steps to avoid disturbance to residents. As in other situations, a violation during an emergency repair may lead to prosecution or a fine. 

Having your morning or afternoon naps disturbed by the noise coming from a nearby construction site can be an unpleasant experience. You have learned what the law says about when construction workers can start work in residential areas in the United Kingdom. So far, you’ve learned that construction activities on sites within the UK must follow the Pollution Control Act of 1947. For further information, refer to your local council’s website for the specifics of when Builders can start work in your area.