While we try our very best, it is still impossible to build without any noise, vibrations or disturbance. Each day, we're building value while reducing nuisance to the bare minimum.
As a contractor, we can be visitors in your neighbourhood for quite a while. But just like guests, we're always on our best behavior.
At Democo we do everything we can to limit any hindrance the realization of a construction project can cause. We're always actively preventing, managing and adjusting our approach on nuisance and inconvenience.
The prevention of nuisance is very important to us. We treat it as a priority from the start of the first conceptual phase, long before any actual construction takes place, because we know early choices in the building process can have a major impact on the inconvenience that a construction site can cause.
Clear communication and planning is another way to prevent nuisance. We're making sure everyone involved in a project is aware of their responsibilities and the effects of their actions. Together, we're working on a smooth construction process with minimal impact on neighbourhoods and residents.
For nuisance that can't be avoided, we're taking a tailored approach to projects to manage and limit any inconvenience caused. Each construction site has unique properties that can cause specific nuisances. That is why we implement and communicate targeted measures for each neighbourhood.
All our employees at construction sites are aware of our nuisance policy and specific agreements made with cities and residents. We're elevating our measures to become a shared responsibility and a collective priority, working on reducing nuisance with maximum respect for local communities.
We're monitoring our entire building process, keeping track of nuisance from the very beginning of construction to long after. We keep a close eye on the effects of our measures during each step of the process, so we can make quick changes when a planned approach does not have the desired results.
We are fully convinced that a great deal of nuisance can be prevented or limited through forward thinking and constructive collaboration - and we are actively committed to this approach.
Based on 5 central nuisance topics, we work out a customized approach for each construction site.
A jackhammer will always be a jackhammer: we cannot make it fully silent, but we do try to reduce noise and vibrations to a minimum. If demolition is to take place, this is usually the noisiest period during construction where we focus our efforts.
We're constantly investing in newer and more quiet machines and we apply low-noise techniques wherever possible. Our employees also do their part: they switch off engines and machines during breaks, drive their transport vehicles slowly and limit the volume of site radios. In order to respect the peace and quiet of local residents, we only work on weekdays and during fixed working hours as much as possible. And no construction on Sundays or public holidays! If by exception we do have to deviate from this schedule, neighbours are informed well in advance.
Noise Woluwe Promenade
Construction worker Stijn participated in the construction of Woluwe Promenade, a new residential care center in Saint-Stevens-Woluwe with 90 care rooms and a commercial space.
“Our team thinks it’s important to limit disturbances to the neighborhood as much as possible during construction. We know that noise pollution, for example, can be very annoying for local residents. That is why we have fixed agreements about this. In Saint-Stevens-Woluwe, we only worked during regular working hours, only switched on machines while they were in use and didn’t turn our radios on too loud… although I must confess that we sometimes sing along when our favorite songs are played!”
Dust & mud
Certain activities such as ground works, drilling and sawing produce a lot of dust. If it gets windy, that dust can move beyond the construction site. And when it rains, it pours: our dust turns to mud.
That’s why we do as much as possible to prevent inconvenience from dust, by preventively spraying the site with water, wet sanding or grinding, demolishing from the inside out or working with prefabricated elements. We close off our sites with closed fences, keep construction trucks covered during transport and sometimes even cover entire buildings.
When we notice dust has moved to surrounding roads, we send out our cleaning crew with a high-pressure brush sweeper.
Dust & Mud Beau'Garde
In Diest, we built the new Beau'Garde residence in the middle of a pleasant and tidy neighbourhood. We thought it was very important to keep the neighbourhood clean during the works and were happy to hear that this was noticed by local resident Lies:
“Democo built Beau'Garde just around our corner, but from the surrounding streets you’d be hard-pressed to notice! We like living in a well-maintained neighbourhood and the streets stayed just as tidy during construction.”
In 2021, Democo won the Safety Award for our achievements on site safety. The safety of local residents and our employees on site is and always will be our first priority.
Many of our safety measures are preventive and therefore often invisible to the neighbourhood. Our strict precautions and regulations protect everyone's safety every day. In addition, we ensure closed, fixed and high fencing around our sites and keep construction material secured and protected so nothing can blow away or fall over. After each day of work, we also clean our building materials and remove any clutter to leave the site and the area around it safe and clear.
In the center of Hasselt, we used the old Belgacom site to build Bonnefant: a large-scale project with apartments, skyhouses, assistance apartments, student housing, commercial spaces and restaurants. A lively and green meeting place for the neighbourhood!
During construction, we also put the importance of the neighborrhood first: we demarcated the site with sturdy construction site fencing to keep the streetscape pedestrian-friendly and passers-by at a safe distance from the construction works!
We're always trying to keep our impact on traffic mobility as small as possible. The vast majority of our work takes place on the construction site itself, but delivery and transport also extend to the roads around our site.
Wherever we can, we park our vehicles on the site, not on the public road. When we exceptionally do have to block roads, we do this as short as possible and provide clear, correct signaling in collaboration with the authorized services. We always ensure that the neighbourhood remains accessible to security and safety vehicles.
Traffic mobility Provincial Government Building
For the city of Antwerp, we built the architectural provincial government building: 14 floors of office space and a conference center with a capacity of 350 people on the ground floor. With 683 triangular windows and an eye-catching 'pivot', this beautiful building became a new landmark in the city. The compact design also left the neighbourhood with plenty of new green space.
Building this grand project called for a smart construction site that would not disturb the busy city. With a detailed mobility plan and a conscious layout of the construction yard, we ensured that the surrounding neighbourhood remained accessible at all times and that all our trucks and vans were given a place within our own fences.
Unfortunately, we cannot prevent all nuisance. We can, however, communicate clearly about what will happen, when it will happen and how it could affect the local community. We always keep neighbours readily informed so they know exactly what to expect.
What people experience as nuisance is often personal or specific to a neighbourhood. That is why our communication flows in two directions: we encourage locals to tell us what is important to them and ask for their input and feedback during the entire construction process. This allows us to prevent frustrations even before they arise and to safeguard the quality of life of local residents while we upgrade their neighbourhood.
In Mortsel we held a neighbourhood information market for local residents and neighbours of Stadsterras. We organized this first moment of contact long before construction started, ensuring we were well-informed about what people found important for their neighbourhood. Together, we were able to get to work based on those insights.
With the nearby school and the city of Mortsel, for example, we determined new, safe cycling routes for the children and drew up a specific brochure about adapted parking facilities during construction.
Building value with minimal nuisance, together with neighbourhoods, our clients and local authorities.
As we focus on urban renewal, our large construction sites are often located in the middle of the city, where lots of people live.
Our relationship with these neighbourhoods is very important to us: we try to really listen to people's concerns and make changes where we can.
Thanks to the community letters we received from Democo, we felt involved in the construction process: we never hesitated to ask our questions and were able to speak openly about our concerns on nuisance.
Thank you for the initiative, the hospitality, the openness, the clarity and the quality during the info night about the 15th Wing Air Transport in Steenokkerzeel!
We barely experienced any inconveniences during the construction of Bree & Breughel in our street. Democo always kept me well-informed and took feedback into account.