Noise on a Building Site

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Construction noise: Know the limits

Many construction and demolition activities are inherently noisy. However, noise generated during construction, maintenance and demolition work is generally of a temporary nature. Provided ongoing noise does not occur at inconvenient times, the adverse effects can generally be avoided or mitigated.

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NZS 6803:1999 Acoustics – Construction noise allows for the production of significant noise between the hours of 7.30am to 6pm during weekdays. The standard also contains provisions relating to:

  • the measurement of noise from construction, maintenance and demolition work
  • the assessment of such noise to determine whether action is required to control those noise emissions.
  • In the event of non-compliance, action can be taken under the appropriate sections of the Resource Management Act.

NZS 6803:1999 sets out recommended upper limits in dB(A) for construction work noise in residential areas:

 Weekdays SaturdaysSundays/Public Holidays
L10L95LmaxL10L95LmaxL10L95Lmax
6.30-7.30pm604570******
7.30-6.00pm756090756090***
6.00-8.00pm705585******
8.00pm-6.30am*********

L10 is the noise level exceeded for 10% of the time of the measurement period. For example, a noise limit of L10 75 dB(A) means that, over a period of 1 hour, the noise from construction activities can only exceed 75 dB(A) for a total of 6 minutes or 1 minute over a period of 10 minutes.

L95 is the level exceeded for 95% of the time and represents the background level without any construction noise present.

Lmax is the maximum level measured over a time period, but it is not the same or not as high as an individual peak level

To help reduce building noise, consider:

  • limiting work hours
  • selecting quieter equipment or use alternatives
  • carrying out work as far away as possible from neighbours and away from sensitive areas such as bedroom windows
  • regularly servicing equipment – lack of maintenance can cause higher noise levels
  • erecting a solid fence or barrier
  • installing an acoustic enclosure for fixed equipment such as compressors or vacuum equipment
  • modifying equipment – discuss this option with the manufacturer or installer.

If noisy work is planned, such as jack hammering, concrete cutting and pouring, discuss this with nearby residents beforehand. A sign on site or distribution of leaflets explaining the hours and duration of operation may help prevent complaints.

Reprinted with permission from BRANZ

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