Construction Noise

At 6:30 yesterday morning I was awakened by loud crashing, the sounds of metal and wood being tossed around. It seems that neighbors were having a new roof put on their bungalow, and the construction company decided to get an early start. Sleeping neighbors were not a concern. At 7 a.m. the construction began.


The crew arrived in an unmarked white van. One crew member climbed onto the roof and began tossing ladders and boards onto the street and sidewalk. The van was initially parked so that it blocked other traffic. When I asked the name of the company, the crew chief opened the van’s door and pulled out a magnetic sign which he slapped on the back of the truck.

No safety precautions for pedestrians were in place, like yellow tape indicating that it would be better to walk on the other side of the street. Plastic sheeting covered the sidewalk, a potential hazard  for those walking.

It is illegal in the City of Chicago for any construction noise to take place before 8 a.m. except for City work (sewers, etc.) and emergency repairs. Construction crews are required by law not to set up for the day’s work before 7 a.m. Construction is permitted over a 12-hour day, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Construction company owners, managers, and supervisors are expected to understand and obey the law. Unfortunately, many try to get away with starting earlier and working later, figuring that there’s nothing the neighbors can do.

I talked  to the crew chief, who informed me that his boss told him that they could operate from 7 to 7 and, anyway, it was going to be a hot day. I called the police around 7:25 a.m. but they did not come.

This morning the crew was back early and began running very noisy equipment at 7 a.m. I called the police again and then a second time. Construction suddenly stopped at 7:40, after 40 minutes of shrieking noise. It resumed about 8:15 a.m.

I know the owners of the property and they are wonderful neighbors. I did not see either of them yesterday or today so I’m not sure if they’ve been home during the construction. Having lived through a roof redo in my building, I sincerely hope they found another place to stay for a couple of days. Responsibility for complying with the law belongs to the contractor and his crew.

I may not like construction noise over a 12-hour day, but because it’s legal I don’t complain. But I treasure the quiet early morning hours, before the unrelenting din of Devon’s heavy traffic and the booming “music” from its cars overwhelm the songs of birds and the chirping of squirrels. I like to hear the breeze ruffling the leaves on the trees. In a busy City rife with unnecessary noise, these are rare hours. Nobody should be blasted awake at 6:30 a m.

Maybe instead of holding hearings on national issues so our aldermen can grandstand for the electorate, our City Council might busy itself ensuring that local contractors, property wners, and businesses understand the law and observe it.



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