City Seeks to Reduce Construction Noise

The National Institute for Occupational Safety Health (NIOSH) has a database for the noise level of power tools like these so builders can buy quiet tools. Image Credit: CDC/NIOSH

City amended rules to mitigate noise from interior renovation. On October 18, 2018, New York City Department of Environmental Protection rolled out a new initiative to mitigate the noise caused by interior renovation.

The new rule made it unlawful to do interior renovation work other than on weekdays between the hours of 7 a.m. and 6 p.m. An exception was made for interior renovation work performed in an existing one, or two-family, owner-occupied dwelling, or performed in a convent or rectory on Saturdays and Sundays between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., provided that the work is performed in a dwelling located at least 300 feet from a house of worship.

The rule also listed acceptable tools including drills, circular saws, portable generators, orbital sanders, power screw drivers, reciprocating saws, miter saws, grinders, jig saws, and hammer drills. The federal NIOSH power tools database lists the quietest tools available. If a tool set forth in the NIOSH list has been discontinued, the builder must contact the manufacturer to obtain the model number for any available newer model that has an equivalent or lower decibel level. If a tool is selected that is not on the approved list, the tool must be rated to the same sound reduction or be certified to a lower decibel level than the tool cited in each applicable section.

The new rule required that noise mitigation plans must be filed by the builder with the Department of Environmental Protection, and added a section for the builder to specify the mitigation techniques to control for interior renovation noise. Any sites undergoing interior construction, except short-term emergency work, must file these plans. According to Section 24-220 (e), DEP may impose a fine (minimum $400) for failure to file a noise mitigation plan when required.


(CIT) 15 RCNY ยง 28-100

By: Shan Chen (Shan is a New York Law School Graduate, Class of 2019).


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