Is it safe for homeowners to employ builders during the Covid-19 crisis?

To say that Covid-19 has affected homeowners undertaking or considering building work is true enough. But it doesn’t mean all projects are off – far from it. Tradespeople may legally continue to work on construction projects, even in a lockdown situation.

Home extensions and renovations pose more of a risk than new builds, for obvious reasons. And since the safety of the occupants and neighbours, together with the workers and suppliers coming on site is crucial, it’s an important conversation.

(Other difficulties appear to be availability of materials (now a Brexit thing not just Covid-19), reduced manpower and generally slower progress. But that’s a different story…)

It’s all about communicating well with your tradespeople and adhering to the guidelines. The show can go on!

Safety on site in Covid-19 times

Trades people can work in domestic homes, providing that no-one working has any COVID-19 symptoms, no matter how mild. Those living at the property will also have to confirm they are symptom free and that no one is shielding or currently isolating.

The only instance where a tradesperson will be able to enter the home of someone isolating or shielding is to remedy a direct risk to the safety of the household. This might be a glazing or plumbing emergency.

A couple of Covid-19 pointers for homeowners

  • As the homeowner, make sure the contractor has followed all the guidelines. They should have completed their Covid-19 Risk Assessment. And you should be satisfied that they are in a position to display this compliance poster outside your home. It’s reassuring also for neighbours and delivery people.
  • Ask the contractor to discuss plans for the next day over the phone. It’s not necessary (or recommended) to have a face-to-face. And a quick chat in advance will allow you to prepare as necessary for what the builders are hoping to do.

There are lots more where that came from… The Federation of Master Builders has produced information to help homeowners navigate what might seem like a minefield.

Read the guide here >>

Trustmark have also put together recommendations – with ‘working together’ as the theme.

Full details here >>

What your builders should be doing

As mentioned earlier, building firms have a legal obligation to produce a Covid-19 Risk Assessment specific to your project. The Health & Safety Executive has been given additional funding in order to carry out spot checks on sites, to make sure that building firms are Covid-secure.

As a matter of course, your builders should know to keep a 2m distance, to frequently wash hands and clean objects and surfaces that are touched regularly. They must also remove all waste and belongings from the work area at the end of a shift and at the end of a job.

There is plenty of advice available to them, starting with the government’s own information.

Working safely during Coronavirus (Covid-19) >>

The Construction Leadership Council has also worked with the government to produce a guide, now onto its seventh version, although some of it is aimed at larger construction sites.

Site Operating Procedures >>

Not commissioned a builder for your project yet?

It is still possible to discuss your project over the phone or over Zoom, Facetime or Skype. You can email or dropbox plans, plus photos of your existing property, and where the extension is going to go, for example.

Those making it onto the shortlist can be invited to visit the property. Have a conversation in advance to ensure the meeting will be Covid-secure – and ideally outdoors. To be honest, builders can’t really commit to a price without physically taking a look. They need to assess access, the ground conditions and any possible obstructions or obstacles.

Hopefully this article is useful in terms of pointing you in the direction of further information. At the end of the day, use your discretion while the coronavirus is brought under control. Guidelines are there to be followed, and there are new laws in place. Every scenario is different and only you can decide whether it’s right to proceed with a building project or not.

We can help with a socially-distanced quote!

In the meantime, Cost My Self Build can provide you with an estimate that you can use to compare builders’ quotes with. Or use to give you a figure to help with your budgeting. Call us on 0117 916 7878, email or upload your plans here.