Families in a quiet Auckland neighbourhood were woken by the racket of a noisy concrete pour at 5.30am as the city's frenzied building boom reaches fever pitch.
Workers used their vehicle headlights to pump concrete on to the Housing New Zealand construction site before daylight on Wednesday morning, waking adults and children in Jennings St, Jersey Ave and Newcastle Tce, Mt Albert.
Residents started a petition to complain - the latest of several complaints about builders around Auckland starting before dawn and working late into the night to keep up with demand.
Newcastle Tce resident Stephanie Young, who has two children aged 8 and 3, said her whole family was woken up.
"It was awful," she said.
"We hear the trucks from 6am onwards, and some mornings it's full-on work at 6.30am. My son wakes up early every morning with it, but we wouldn't have complained about it if it hadn't been so outrageous [on Wednesday]."
The concrete pump, operated by Ian Howe Concrete Pumps, had gone by 9am, she said.
"It just made me think that maybe the crane was booked somewhere else for the day," she said. "I think they knew it was not the right time and they thought if you want it this day you're going to have to do it really early."
Auckland Council resource consent compliance manager Steve Pearce said the site consent specified that building work could only be done between 7.30am and 6pm.
"We are working closely with the consent holder to ensure the conditions are met going forward," he said.
Housing NZ, which is building 18 new state homes to replace eight old houses on the site, said its principal contractor Precision Construction had met with all subcontractors to remind them of the consent conditions.
Precision managing director Grant Millar said the concreting subcontractor "turned up early unbeknown to us, our site manager was not present".
"We wrote letters to all the neighbours in Jennings St and Jersey Ave profusely apologising," he said.
"The company that carried out that work has been reprimanded and everyone on site has been instructed no one is to commence before the resource consent allowable time, which is 7.30am."
But Ian Howe of Ian Howe Concrete Pumps said his crew turned up at the appointed time.
"We haven't got anything to do with the starting times, that is the client. We are just the hire company," he said.
Ponsonby residents also complained to the Herald last month about noisy roadworks in Pollen St which started at 9pm and were still going at 10.50pm.
Ellerslie residents who complained about motorway noise were told yesterday that construction of noise barriers would start there mid-year.
Auckland Master Builders president Michael Lieshout said builders were working long hours to keep up with "exceptionally busy" demand.
"It means maximising hours, but they still need to stay within the council regulations for hours of work," he said.
It was common for concrete pours to start on commercial sites at 5.30am to allow time for concrete to dry during the day, he said, but that should not have happened in a residential area even if the contractor was under time pressure.
"There are at least two-week delays on concrete at the moment," he said.
"With aluminium joinery, they can't make the aluminium fast enough, so everything is delayed out.
"It's come on over the last year. It started out as only a residential boom, then as the commercial boom picked up over the last year it got worse, and it's going to be like this all year."
Newly elected Mt Albert MP Jacinda Ardern said most people she met while doorknocking for the recent byelection were "really accommodating" about construction noise.
"People understand we need homes," she said. "But can we make sure that it's not too much of a thoroughfare, and can we keep the noise down?"
Auckland Council rules
Construction noise is allowed at the following times:
Monday to Friday
6.30am to 7.30am: low level noise activities permitted (arrival, preparation for work).
7.30am to 6pm: construction work permitted.
6pm to 8pm: work can continue, but no noisy work (e.g. hammering, power tools, excavation).
7.30am to 6pm: construction work permitted (no activities permitted before 7.30am).
Sunday and public holidays
No noisy construction work allowed.
Commercial and industrial areas
Permitted at any time, depending on what's nearby.
Not permitted at night near residential activities, hospitals, hotels, hostels, accommodation, and other noise sensitive activities.
May also depend on resource consent conditions or permits.