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Times and rights: when you have to endure construction site noise - and when not

Because they have to withstand construction noise, dust and dirt every day, the nerves of many citizens in Germany are on edge. A large part of society generally takes the view that the construction of streets and apartments is necessary in many places, but only as long as it does not happen in one's own neighborhood.

Citizens want good connections to traffic routes and a choice on the housing market, but they are usually not prepared to accept construction sites in the vicinity. Sociologists often refer to this negative behavior as the "nimby" attitude (short: Not in my backyard) or the "banana" movement (build absolutely nothing anywhere near anyone).

Time: When is construction site noise allowed? Do other times apply on Saturdays?

According to the Federal Environment Agency, the noise caused by commercial construction work is referred to as construction noise. Just like work in the home, as long as it is carried out by a company. Normal home improvement activities by private individuals do not fall into this category.

In the case of commercial construction sites, for example the construction of a shopping center, there are legal regulations that the building owner must adhere to. Anyone who operates a construction site commercially must always proactively prevent harmful environmental impacts or limit them to a minimum. This also means that a certain volume level is maintained and night times are taken into account.

In 1970 the legislature issued the General Administrative Regulation (AVV) for protection against construction noise. It prescribes maximum noise levels, so-called immission guide values. Different limit values ​​apply depending on the time of day, commercial, residential or mixed area. In health resorts, for example, it cannot be louder than 35 decibels (dB) at night and up to 45dB during the day become. In industrial and commercial areas, however, you can work around the clock at up to 70 dB. In busy residential areas, this value is 35 to 55 dB. For comparison: 55 dB is about as loud as a TV at room volume. If you have any questions about commercial construction site noise, those affected can contact the building contractor, the municipality or the local environmental agency.

Private construction sites or renovation work by neighbors also make noise. Tradespeople often start their work early in the morning. In areas in which there are almost only residential buildings, residents have to live with the fact that construction is carried out on a construction site from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. There is no afternoon rest. During the day, according to AVV construction noise, a continuous noise level of a maximum of 55 decibels may emanate from the construction site. The same rules for time and volume apply on Saturdays. If there is construction going on in the neighborhood, you should contact your neighbor.

Rights in the event of construction site noise: is it possible to reduce the rent?

If you consider the construction noise to be inadmissibly high, you should first contact the building owner or neighbors directly. Because if nobody complains, the building will just continue. In addition, a noise measurement can be requested from the local environmental agency. Some citizens also take matters into their own hands and commission engineering offices to record noise logs.

According to the chairman of the rental association Augsburg and the surrounding area, Thomas Weiand, a rent reduction can be submitted to the landlord during the construction period. In this case, however, the landlord must first be informed of the construction noise so that he can take countermeasures. It does not matter whether the landlord is responsible for this or not. The extent of the reduction depends on the degree of impairment and the severity of the defect.

Depending on the individual case, the rent reduction can range between 5 and 100 percent of the basic rent. According to Weiand, the situation and the specific impairment of use are very important. "There is no general formula for this. Each case has to be weighed up individually. In practice, it is usually between 15 and 20 percent," says the expert. If an apartment becomes uninhabitable, it can be even higher. However, reducing the rent retrospectively is not possible.

What are the consequences of construction noise?

If the noise protection requirements are demonstrably not complied with, the building supervisory authority intervenes and imposes coercive measures to reduce the noise. This can lead to a construction freeze, fines or even criminal charges. However, the problem is not solved with a construction freeze, only postponed. If all regulations on construction noise are adhered to and if this is still intolerable, those affected only have to talk to all those involved.

Can the noise also have health consequences?

According to studies by the Federal Environment Agency, construction noise pollutes the human nervous system and can be the trigger for health problems such as high blood pressure or cardiovascular weakness. Construction noise is not directly harmful to the ears within the legally permitted framework, but it is harmful to the mind and health of the residents. It is important that builders inform their neighbors in any case about the construction work. If the conversation is sought, that's half the battle. Those who can should stay at home as little as possible during the construction period. If the construction noise continues for months, the only thing left to advise is to go to quiet places such as nature, city parks or the nearest museum.

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