About Those “Early Morning” Concrete Pours

ABOUT THOSE “EARLY MORNING” CONCRETE POURS A neighbor of the Park Memorial construction site in Rice Military writes: “Just a question on Houston city ordinances. Are there any restrictions on construction in the middle of the night? I was awakened at 3 am this morning by a massive concrete pour. The site has been lit up with floodlights and there are multiple trucks with back up signals, machinery noise and yelling workers. I found some general noise ordinances but wondered if there are any other rules? This is as bad as any nightclub or worse.” [Swamplot inbox; previously on Swamplot]

32 Comment

  • Just anecdotal as I don’t know the rules… This comes up with us from time to time as we fix up units. Some units next to the ones we’re fixing up will complain of noise and debris from the construction. I respectfully tell them that other units had to put up with the same disruptions while I fixed up the unit THEY are currently living in. And overall, the upgrades make the property (and their own enjoyment of it) better
    So while the noise sucks, I’m sure others were bothered by the noise of your place being built.

  • There are no specific restrictions in City of Houston proper, but there are in smaller cities like Bellaire, Memorial Villages, etc. There are also certain restrictions in neighborhoods with design committee reviews. Having said that, you can always get a variance because certain pours take longer than restricted times and you can’t have a “cold joint” by stopping and continuing next day.

  • people complain of construction during the day because of the traffic and delays it causes. At night you complain of noise. If they don’t do repairs and expansions, we cokmplain also. SO what do you want exactly?

  • Cody, I understand that construction noise and debris are a natural part of building anything and have live through the demolition of the old buildings and beginning of new construction for several months without making any complaints or raising any issues. My issue is with using spotlights to light up the site (and my bedroom) and bringing in a steady stream of concrete trucks beginning at 3 or 4 in the morning. I’ve accepted the morning onslaught at 6 or 6:30 six or seven days a week. But being awakened 2 or 3 hours earlier than normal, is, shall we say, frustrating.

  • No the city would rather spend it’s time regulating how many chairs mobile food trucks can set outside, and what color paint can be used on houses in the Heights Historic District.

  • This isn’t a six-pack of townhouses. These guys can get any permit and variance they want, and there is nothing you can do about it. Earplugs and a sleep mask.

  • I work for a large commercial contracting firm —- in addition to the previous comments, keep in mind that the early pours are often done to avoid potential traffic issues. Concrete trucks entering and exiting a site on a busy street can be a logistical nightmare.

    Yes, the lights and noise are annoying – but the contractors are usually done with pours pretty quickly. You can give the general contractor a call; they can probably tell you how many pours are left. Other than that, unforntunately there is not much you can do…

  • The COH and HPD don’t give a damn, unless the noise is coming from a nightclub or there are cars to be towed. Otherwise, they won’t bother.

  • And we have very small streets, some of which are marked “NO THRU TRUCKS” and yet they barrel down them with no concern for people walking dogs, mothers with stollers or other cars backing out of driveways. Improvements to our neighborhood are always welcome; lack of respect for the current homeowners is not.

  • Either put ear plugs in and a mask on your face to cover the light or call the police. Your sleep should not be interrupted by noise or light. They are breaking the law. I know people will say, deal with it. No you don’t have to deal with it. Noise Pollution can and will take its toll on you. You are luck that this will end soon, but if you can’t deal with it, call the police.

  • The logistics of concrete placements can be quite difficult from time to time. Ready mix facilities location, mixing time, concrete head pressures on formwork/falsework, structural engineering requirements, Concrete volumes, and setting time all things that need to be accounted for. The Lighting that irritates you is important for proper finishing, consolidation of concrete in the form, and of course safety.
    While I work in primarily industrial construction; even in commercial and heavy residential fields, Large Concrete placements can sometimes take 24 hours or more. From my experience in working in residential areas, we typically inform local residents 1-2 days before of upcoming night shift placement…We still get complaints. We also get complaints from night shift workers who we wake during day time placements. Its very difficult in confined construction to please everyone and we try our best to remedy these circumstances within reason.

    Smaller volumetric placements can be performed sometimes to reduce the number of night shifts. However, those smaller placements introduce engineering defects (ie, cold joints, lower load capacity structures, etc), increase the schedule, reduce the profitability for the land owner, increase costs, etc…
    Even then.. sometimes we have to schedule a night shift placement. I was working on a project once on a strengthening of an existing high rise than experienced a punch failure of several of its structural columns (basically a shear failure on the column/slab interface where the column ‘punches’ through the slab). We had a shipment of several dozen steel beams that was scheduled to arrive the next day… Those steel beams were going to be staged on the 4 floor slab, (the site of our placement). We made the placement at night time so that the slab would achieve 4000 PSI (compressive strength value of the concrete) by the time the steel beams arrived. The alternative was to wait until day time to make the placement and stage the beams 3 miles away. Which would have been a logistics nightmare.


    Anyway, I may have nerded myself out with construction talk but I figured a little context as to why placements can occur at night wouldnt hurt. Hopefully those crews will progress seamlessly and you can get back to a full night rest. :)

  • Call 311 and see if the noise ordinance could do you any good, they shut down music that annoys at 10PM, why not construction at 3AM?

  • 311 can answer your questions on this. i thought it was something like 7am to 8pm in residential areas, but the city may wave this for larger developments with some buffer between residentsl.

    working at those hours is just downright inconsiderate and those workers/the city should expect to be speaking with irate residents on a daily basis if they plan to work those hours, but i imagine pouring concrete may be a special case due to any temperature varation restrictions.

    stopping the light is up to you though, the city won’t have any say or care in that.

  • I used to live in a highrise which is directly next door the newest part of the Galleria (Galleria 4). They worked 24 hours a day while buidling that thing. We were told by the city and HPD that the builders did have permit to work 24 hours a day so we just kinda dealt with it.

  • Well here’s the solution to the problem of traffic when they starte building the Ashby Highrise. They can just build between 10pm and 6 am when it won’t matter because there is no traffic. Maybe the rest of us can chip in for a “Southampton Ear Plug” fund.

  • Having lived in a number of other cities around the country, I am continuously shocked by what contractors in this city get away with at construction sites. No fences around construction sites (the smaller ones, anyway), complete destruction of the public sidewalks until project completion, lack of protection for street trees, work taking place at 5:30 in the morning in residential neighborhoods, etc. A new home is being built in my neighborhood, and they broke some part of the water main across the street from their site and failed to fix it for a month while we had standing water in the middle of the sidewalk. This just seems to be part of Houston’s any-construction-is-better-than-no-construction-no-matter-what mentality. This type of behavior is disrespectful to neighbors and simply not tolerated in other cities.

  • @tracy. I’m not sure what magical city you lived in with polite, silent construction, but for big projects like this one, it is always disruptive and done at off-peak hours. It is not possible in any city to do this scale of concrete pour during rush hour.

  • While reading this post, I was thinking to myself “did my husband post this?” We had this very conversation this morning. We live on the other end of Detering and my husband was awoken at 3 am from the sound of these cement trucks lining up to haul their loads to the construction site. While I agree that it’s annoying, I find messing with traffic during rush hour when I’m trying to get to work or pick up my kids from daycare a worse offense. Especially since the streets in Rice Military are only slightly wider than a sidewalk and the street would be reduced to one lane thanks to a line of 30 waiting cement trucks.

  • And to think
    the old condos stand no more
    cause they were constructed
    with a poorly poured pour

  • I’m not sure about construction, but the trucks that empty dumpsters (they too have those back-up signals)aren’t allowed to work before 7 a.m. Of course, it only took me a year of complaining to the city to stop them from operating at the apartments across from my home at 3 FRIGGING A.M. EVERY MORNING.

  • Not to mention, why in heck is it so easy to be granted a variance???????????????

  • It’s partly due to traffic, but the main reason you pour concrete in the extreme early hours is due to temperature.

    Concrete is actually a substance undergoing a chemical reaction and continues to get warmer.

    In the south, it’s not uncommon to pour concrete in the early morning hours before it gets too hot. If the concrete gets too warm it becomes brittle really fast. There are ways of dealing with heat such as adding ice to the mix, but it is not the preferred way to go.

    This is also the reason why in west Texas you don’t see to many concrete roads. It’s really hard to maintain the temperature during a large placement.

    So yes, there is some concern with traffic, but it has to do more with heat.

    Now, some of you may say that the slab of your house was placed in the heat of the day. Yes, but the strength lost in the heat for your house is not enough to effect the overall structure. Bridges, highways, highrises, and large placements where high loads are experienced can get susceptible to the heat and weakened the overall structure.

    By the way, the upper level of high temperature in the concrete is 83-85 degrees.

  • Well you trade night lights and construction noises for the old noises of destruction and criminal mischief that were rampant on that site for three years. Annoying as it is, it least it will be an improvement over the bombed out zone Park Memorial was.

  • Chapter 30 (Noise and Sound level regulations) of the Code prohibits the production of mechanical noise above 85 dB (the upper limit prescribed by State of TX) outside the hours of 7a – 8p.

    There are exceptions for “emergency work”. You can access a searchable version of the City Code via the City Secretary’s webpage at http://www.houstontx.gov.
    As noted by others, contact HPD non-emergency or 311 to report.

  • @montrose. I’m not just talking about huge projects. I’m also referring to the single family homes that are built in our neighborhoods. In other cities, contractors are required to put a fence around their construction site for the sake of safety and are not allowed to rip out the sidewalk for the duration of construction. It’s not magic. It’s just a matter of not letting the mess of the construction site spill over and affect the rest of the neighborhood.

  • No offense, but have any of you actually been on a concrete pour in Houston in any season other than Winter? The noise would irritate me too, but one of the reasons they do it that early is because it gets ungodly hot on any pour the second the sun comes up. Plus, it only lasts a few days, in most cases. This too shall pass.

  • @24 Chris Newport,

    IIRC, there was an earlier thread here about the shortage of decibel meters at HPD.

    So, a complaint may be called in but the responding officers may or may not have the equipment needed to validate issuing a citation.

    Of course, that thread was about bars and loud music……..

  • This morning as I drove by a construction site I was wishing they would take down the fences so I could see what they’re doing in there. To. Each his own I guess.

  • From tracy:

    @montrose. I’m not just talking about huge projects. I’m also referring to the single family homes that are built in our neighborhoods. In other cities, contractors are required to put a fence around their construction site for the sake of safety and are not allowed to rip out the sidewalk for the duration of construction.

    Isn’t that the truth, an 8-pack of 3-story townhomes were built down the block from me and the took out the sidewalks on both sides of the street and never replaced the majority of what they tore out.

    Looking at you Martha’s Vineyard on Colquitt.

  • miss_misry,

    I don’t always agree with you, but that is VERY valid complaint!!! Sidewalks (especially if they already exist) MUST be installed by the developer.

    Additional personal pet peeves…if the sidewalk you build has a power pole in the middle of it, please make the request to CenterPoint to move it. I know it’s somewhat a pain, but it will go a long way to making you a neighborhood hero.

  • Houston has always been a developer’s paradise. In Oak Forest it is really such irony that it was established by Frank Sharp, one of the seediest slime ball developer ever and it is being desecrated by builders that are building huge crappily built megamansions. . Wafer board and engineered wood boxes replacing houses that have stood 60 years is really sad. The noise doing this is unforgivable and rude.

  • Hammering at 2 AM to 5 AM is a bit much. Been going on for a month or so. Coming from the area near 3600 Montrose Blvd. Anyone know what inconsiderate person/contractor is doing this? I would like to have a chat with them.