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How to file a noise or off-hours construction complaint in San Francisco

What to do if crews disturb your sleep

Van Ness Improvement Project replacing old sewage pipes of over 100 years with equipment digging up Van Ness Street a main transit avenue. Photo via Shutterstock

The sight of cranes and sounds of construction in San Francisco—it’s a good thing. Years of misguided good intentions to preserve a bygone era have resulted in displacement, soaring rent and housing prices (the median price for a single-family home in SF just hit $1.7 million), and homelessness.

However, said sights and sounds of growth aren’t always welcome during the wee hours of the morning, especially while trying to amass beauty sleep. Take, for example, the plight of a Curbed SF reader who writes to us asking: “Is there a way for me to halt construction on a project right next to my Folsom Street apartment building? They start working super early in the morning and it’s ruining my sleep.”

Here’s what you need to know:

  • Building construction at any legal noise level can occur between 7 a.m. and 8 p.m., seven days a week, including holidays.
  • Work done before or after 7 a.m. and 8 p.m cannot exceed the noise level of five decibels at the nearest lot line. According to the San Francisco Department of Building Inspection, “Five decibels is similar to the sound of a screw gun installing screws in drywall.”
  • In rare cases, construction sites can build during off-hours if they have a Night Noise Permit (NNP). Here’s a map of such sites.

Who should I contact to complain?

  • Complaints about noisy construction at ungodly hours can be directed to the Department of Building Inspection at 415-558-6570. You can also file a complaint online.
  • Complaints about construction at non-permitted times should be directed to your local police station. You can also file noise complaints with SF311.

What about suspected illegal construction?

If you suspect illegal construction (e.g., work without permits), call Inspection Services at 415-558-6570 to file a complaint. “When filing a complaint, please provide us with the valid property address and the type of work being done.”

You can also file a complaint online.

Should I confront the construction crew in person?

Please don’t do this. Workers follow orders from superiors. Follow proper procedure by making a formal complaint (see above). If, when full of fury, you feel the urge to march over to a construction site, remember the case of TV anchorperson Terilyn Joe, who made headlines in 2002 after (allegedly) hurling eggs and tomatoes at tree trimmers who made a fracas outside of her Russian Hill home.

I’m still angry! How can I contact my district’s building inspector?

District inspectors ensure construction projects are built according to approved plans. You can find your area building inspector here.