How do I stop construction workers from waking me?
July 21, 2008 6:45 AM   Subscribe

Noisy Neighbors Filter: The construction at the house next door is waking me up every morning and they start before 8am. How early can residential construction in Chicago begin and what can I do to bust them if they violate that start time?

The house that is adjacent to my walk-up is having construction done and it is waking me up early every morning. It is driving me absolutely crazy (I'm writing this at 8:30am btw).

I am no lawyer, but someone had told me they could not begin before 8am, so I went over one morning and asked if they had an early start permit and they said no and that they would wait till 8 and were generally very nice about it (of course they didn't really speak english well so not sure if they fully understood). Then their boss came by a little later and I could hear him talking to them out my back window once I went back inside and he was generally upset with the situation and started making calls to find out what the deal was with the start time. It sounded like it was indeed 8am. I also heard the tail end of a comment about how "its not a big deal because this is the only person thats complained so far."

My question is...does anybody know definitively what the earliest residential construction start time is in Chicago? Also, if they are violating this, what steps can I take to resolve the situation with the city? I'm sick of trying to talk to these people and now want to do whatever I can to get them busted for starting early and making my morning hell. Hopefully I can either get their permit revoked or get them fined.

While I don't typically get out of bed till 8:20am and realize I probably won't get them to hold off that long if the start time is indeed 8am, I'd at least like to hassle them and let them know I mean business. And this waking me up before 8am has GOT to stop.

Also, I don't believe talking to the neighbors themselves is an option...I don't think anybody is actually living there now, just some investor who's flipping a house and has people working on it all day.
posted by Elminster24 to Human Relations (15 answers total)
Also, I don't believe talking to the neighbors themselves is an option...

Elminster24 this is always an option. Even if it is a person who has no plans on living there, give the cat a chance to show he's a decent dude. Don't expect everyone to be an ass. Call him up. And don't get up in his grill becasue you're irritated (rightfully so.) Just be nice and ask him politely. He probably doesn't know and he may have no problem at all asking his crew to start 30 minutes later.

And if that fails, I'm sure someone else here will tell you how to execute plan B.
posted by three blind mice at 7:06 AM on July 21, 2008 [2 favorites]

check out the noise ordinances for your city. i know in philadelphia there are specific times that you can be a loud jackass, and outside of those times us quiet folk can call the cops. however, there are tons of exceptions to this, including any city-related construction, people who got permits, etc.
posted by misanthropicsarah at 7:08 AM on July 21, 2008

Is there a permit posted on the construction site? Here in Dallas, it must be posted and provide the information for legal construction hours, along with a phone number (which is probably just 311, but I can't guarantee that off the top of my head) to report violations.

However, I *think* that in Dallas the legal starting time is 7AM on weekdays. Yes, it's annoying.
posted by Ufez Jones at 7:12 AM on July 21, 2008

Yes, every city will have published times for noise/construction above a certain dB level. Unfortunately for you, and given the size of Chicago, it's probably 6 a.m. And misanthropicsarah is also spot on about the possibility of variances, exceptions, and so on.

Lastly, this is the summer when the sun is up early and gets hot quickly. If you want them to finish swiftly, your best course may be to grit your teeth and simmer. But there are noise and construction ordinances. Use them where necessary.
posted by beelzbubba at 7:15 AM on July 21, 2008

I could have it wrong, but this page looks like you're right about the 8 a.m. timeline:

"Sounds generated between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m. in construction, demolition or repair work pursuant to duly authorized permit or franchise or license agreement; "

(the quote is toward the bottom of the page -- looks like you can call 312-744-6870 for more details)
posted by ukdanae at 7:18 AM on July 21, 2008 [1 favorite]

You might just want to gut it out and let them start as early as they can get away with. That way the job gets done faster and they are out of there sooner.
posted by a3matrix at 7:23 AM on July 21, 2008 [2 favorites]

Best answer: chicago? call yr alderman. he/she will fix that pronto.
posted by lester at 8:28 AM on July 21, 2008

If you read the section heading at ukdane's link you'll see that the listed work is exempted from the by-law as long as they have a permit. So there is probably no relief by way of bylaw enforcement available.
posted by Mitheral at 8:32 AM on July 21, 2008

Mitheral, where are you getting that? The section heading says that construction work "between the hours of 8 AM and 9 PM, pursuant to permits" is exempt from the 55 dB ordinance noted above — but outside of those hours, all previous sections apply.
posted by Johnny Assay at 8:40 AM on July 21, 2008

Oops, you're right, I inverted the logic of the time restriction.
posted by Mitheral at 8:50 AM on July 21, 2008

Response by poster: Thanks for the suggestions guys. I gave my Alderman's office a call and they'll get back to me but I'll probably need to get some additional information (such as the offending address) for them to do anything. At least its a start and hopefully will solve the issue.

Three Blind Mice - If I could figure out how to get in touch with them I would but nobody that looks like an owner or resident is ever there that I've seen. I'm really not sure how to obtain their contact information and frankly I care to waste any more of my valuable time than is necessary on this.

The workers and this sleazeball manager had their chance and now I'm done being nice.
posted by Elminster24 at 9:45 AM on July 21, 2008

Oh, the city has a handy brochure in both english and spanish explaining the rules. Might be worth printing out a couple copies and giving it to contractor considering there are language issues.
posted by Mitheral at 10:09 AM on July 21, 2008

Best answer: You're being a little passive aggressive about this.

Before you follow up with the alderman, go over and talk to the head honcho (the guy you heard/saw talking to the laborers.) Tell the guy, "Look, you and I both know that you're not supposed to start work before 8am. Are you going to knock it off or not?" He may very well tell you to go fuck yourself, but this is pretty much the easiest and most straightforward way to solve this issue.

If that doesn't work, you can do the following:

- Call your alderman/woman. Don't expect too much, hell, the owner of the property could be the alderman's wife or brother-in-law, or his attorney. This *is* Chicago.

- When they wake you up before 8am, call 311. And do this repeatedly until the police show up.

- If things escalate, check to see if all of their building permits have been filed correctly. You'll have to google around - go to the city tax accessor's website, there you can get the parcel number and with that you can look up building permits. If something is off, you can get a nice big fat "Stop Work" order plastered on their front door.
posted by wfrgms at 10:45 AM on July 21, 2008

One thing in addition to wfrgms, be sure you leave your name when you call 311. Anonymous calls go to the bottom of the cue.
posted by MeetMegan at 7:50 PM on July 21, 2008

Response by poster: Quick update on the situation...

I followed the advice to contact the alderman's office and spoke to the extremely helpful deputy alderman. He was knowledgeable of the construction going on at the area, and with my assistance narrowed down the address of the culprit.

He understood my frustration and said that there are strict rules regarding noise and time of day. Apparently they're allowed to unload between 7-8, and cannot begin actual work till 8. He said he'd put in a call to the person managing the project and if they violated it again I should let him know and he'd send over a building inspector to lay down the law.

Overall...a very satisfactory resolution and I had no issues with them this morning. Thanks for all your great suggestions guys!
posted by Elminster24 at 1:20 PM on July 22, 2008

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