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Describes how the Transport Agency manages construction and maintenance noise and vibration to avoid unreasonable effects on communities and individuals.

  • What are the noise limits for construction work?

    Noise limit versus the time of day

    Noise limits for construction work are generally set within designation conditions for road projects. In New Zealand, the applicable noise limits are normally taken from the New Zealand Standard NZS 6803:1999 ‘Acoustics – Construction Noise’. The Transport Agency manages and minimises potentially unreasonable noise effects during construction activities (as far as practicable) in accordance with this standard.

    NZS 6803 is an independent standard produced by Standards New Zealand and provides guideline noise limits and management practices for construction and maintenance works. The noise limits apply outside neighbouring buildings, one metre from the building façade and 1.2 to 1.5 metres above the relevant floor level.

    During the day, most people tolerate higher noise levels from temporary activities - such as construction - compared to permanent activities. Therefore, noise limits for temporary works are higher during the day. However, at night the limits are much lower and are like those for permanent activities to prevent sleep disturbance. Most construction work will be undertaken between 7.30am and 6pm Monday to Saturday when noise limits are higher. 

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  • What are the vibration limits for construction work?

    In New Zealand there is no standard or limit for construction vibration.

    As a result, the Transport Agency uses the vibration limits within the German Standard DIN 4150-3 and the British Standard BS 5228-2 to manage the effects of construction vibration. The British Standard includes consideration of effects on people, buildings, building contents and underground services. The German Standard primarily relates to effects on buildings.

    As with noise limits, vibration limits that apply at night are much lower than during the day to manage sleep disturbance.

    More detail on construction vibration limits can be found at State highway construction and maintenance noise and vibration guide.

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  • Why do you undertake construction and maintenance work at night?

    There are times when noisier work outside of normal hours is unavoidable.  For example, resealing a busy road may only be undertaken at night when the road or lanes can be closed to avoid significant traffic disruption. Neighbouring properties, likely to be affected by noisy works will be notified, usually through a letter drop.

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  • I can feel vibration due to nearby construction works. Will you monitor vibration?

    To manage construction vibration effects, the potential vibration levels of high vibration activities will often be determined through monitoring during a trial using the equipment at the site prior to works. Alternatively, calculations will be made in advance of the construction works and if necessary confirmed at the start of the works by measurements near to or at any at-risk locations.

    The Transport Agency does not routinely monitor vibration at individual properties to assess construction vibration, as the above monitoring is considered good practice to manage vibration. Occasionally monitoring may be undertaken to confirm vibration levels.

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  • I can feel vibration from the nearby construction works. Does this mean the construction work is causing damage to my property?

    Humans are sensitive to vibration and there is a wide range of sensitivity to vibration, with some people able to feel low levels of vibration.
    Contributing factors to the human perception of vibration include the length of time of the vibration event, the vibration duration, the frequency spectrum of vibration, the number of occurrences per day, the time they occur and the magnitude.

    The threshold of human perception to vibration is low (vibration level of 0.3 mm/s or lower). It should also be noted vibration levels as low as 1mm/s can result in movement of small objects, like ornaments, hanging photographs, trinkets etc. on hard surfaces and this can often exacerbate how vibration levels are perceived. The vibration levels which would be required to cause building damage are much higher than this.

    When vibration effects occur, and we feel vibration or hear windows rattle, attention can be drawn to existing cracks in walls and construction works can be thought to be the cause.

    The vibration standards we use to manage construction vibration are conservative in their proposed limits to ensure vibration levels do not go above ‘safe’ vibration levels (typically set at 5mm/s) for the control of building cosmetic damage. It is impracticable to devise a set of vibration guidelines that account for the condition of a property, the mode of construction, the workmanship, the type of construction, age, number of floors etc. Rather, the standards propose a lower permissible level of vibration which considers each of these factors, effectively introducing a large factor of safety for most properties, and importantly, an acceptable value for all properties, irrespective of their condition.

    Vibration effects from high vibration generating activities such as piling, rock breaking and compaction have the potential to exceed the ‘safe’ vibration levels if not appropriately assessed and managed. To ensure activities are appropriately managed, the Transport Agency require projects to implement a Construction Noise and Vibration Management Plan. For further information go to State highway construction and maintenance noise and vibration guide.

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  • The construction noise at my house is very loud – will you monitor noise at my property?

    Noise monitoring of construction works is generally undertaken on significant noise sources before or at the start of activities likely to affect neighbours. This allows the project teams to understand if the noise is within the permitted noise limits and whether additional mitigation is needed.

    Regular noise monitoring is also undertaken during noisy construction activities to confirm noise is within the permitted limits.

    The Transport Agency does not routinely monitor noise at individual properties to assess construction noise, as the above monitoring is considered good practice to manage noise.

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  • What does the Transport Agency do to manage construction noise and vibration effects?

    The most effective method to control construction and maintenance noise and vibration is through proactive management. This includes assessment of all activities and consideration of potential noise and vibration effects and appropriate mitigation. 

    To ensure this occurs for construction works that may have an adverse effect on neighbours, the Transport Agency requires projects to implement a Construction Noise and Vibration Management Plan. This document details the obligations of the Transport Agency and its contractors towards managing noise and vibration effects to avoid unreasonable effects on communities and individuals.

    Some of the things we do and have done to reduce disturbance for neighbours are:

    • keep neighbours informed of the construction activities which may affect them
    • adopt quieter techniques and processes and select low-noise equipment where practicable
    • build temporary noise walls on the site boundary to reduce the noise reaching nearby homes or put screens around noisy activities
    • undertake regular noise monitoring to ensure any noise is within the permitted limits
    • replace vehicle reversing beepers with ‘squawkers’ (broadband directional reversing alarms) at night
    • prepare and implement activity specific schedules for night works and particularly noisy works that are predicted to be above the permitted noise limits to ensure mitigation and management measures are appropriately targeted to minimise disturbance as far as practicable
    • all personnel involved in construction and maintenance noise management are required to have appropriate training
    • brief the work teams on the behaviours expected of them, particularly on night works, to minimise unnecessary noise eg shouting or slamming vehicle doors
    • provide a clear process, such as a 24-hour freephone number, for neighbours to respond to complaints about unreasonable noise and vibration.

    The State highway construction and maintenance noise and vibration guide contains further information on how the Transport Agency manages construction noise and vibration.

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