Home Improvements After Lockdown
Following the UK Government’s COVID-19 recovery strategy (11th May 2020), construction workers have been actively encouraged to return to work. However, there will be some changes introduced as sites should be ‘COVID-secure’ and social distancing should be maintained.
Changes to Outdoor Construction Work
The government has produced ‘Working safely during coronavirus’ for construction and other outdoor work guidance that advises contractors to consider:
- Managing risk
- Who should go to work
- Social distancing at work
- Managing your customers, visitors and contractors
- Cleaning and sanitising the workplace
- Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and face coverings
- Managing your workforce
- Inbound and outbound goods
As a homeowner, this new guidance means that:
- Your home improvement project may take longer than expected as contractors are advised to only allow the minimum number of workers needed on site at any one time to comply with 2m social distancing rules (which applies to all areas of the site including entrances and exits)
- You may find access to areas of your property more limited as screens or barriers need to be implemented to separate people from each other
- Hand washing facilities (or where this isn’t possible, hand sanitiser) need to be available at all entry and exit points (workers are expected to bring their own soap, paper towel and hand sanitisers)
- You may see construction workers choosing to wear face masks. However, wearing face coverings is optional and they are not required to be worn. No additional PPE is needed
- Meetings/communications will be via phone/email/video call where possible – all non-essential trips to sites or within sites are to be avoided. You may also see less of your project manager on site if they are able to visit the project remotely
Indoor construction work
The government has produced ‘Working safely during coronavirus’ in other people’s homes guidance, which advises how to work safely during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, keeping as many people as possible 2 metres apart from those they do not live with.
This basically follows the same guidance as above:
- 2m social distancing should be maintained wherever possible, including when arriving and leaving
- Good hygiene and frequent cleaning of objects and surfaces that are touched regularly
- Tools/domestic appliances shouldn’t be shared if possible. If they do need to be shared, they should be placed down first to avoid direct contact
- Collecting materials/removing waste should be done in bulk by the same person to reduce the risk of transmission
- Construction workers may choose to wear face masks. However, wearing face coverings is optional and they are not required to be worn. No additional PPE is needed
Where possible, the part of the home that is being worked on should be divided off from the rest of the house. If this is not possible, you’ll probably need to stay on a separate floor/in a different room with the door closed to allow work to be carried out whilst observing social distancing.
Ideally, contractors will use separate bathroom facilities. If this isn’t possible, a portable toilet should be installed to maintain as high a level of separation as possible. Any areas in the house that do need to be shared should be cleaned frequently using regular cleaning products.
When can’t construction go ahead?
If you meet any of the following criteria, then you must continue to self-isolate and not allow other people into your home. If a contractor meets any of the following criteria, then they cannot return to work:
- You/they are experiencing coronavirus symptoms, however mild including a high temperature or persistent cough
- You/they are considered to be a vulnerable person due to age, underlying health or clinical condition or if they are pregnant
- You/they are living with someone who is self-isolating or a vulnerable person
What happens if work begins and I develop coronavirus symptoms?
If you or anyone else in your home start to show coronavirus symptoms then you should inform your contractors immediately (and vice-versa) so that the risk of spreading the virus can be minimised. Anyone who has come into contact with the virus may need to self-isolate.
- Check the NHS website for the latest NHS information and advice about coronavirus (COVID-19) – https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/
- You can also consult the 111 online to check your symptoms or get an isolation note – https://111.nhs.uk/covid-19/
Everything is very uncertain at the moment and most people are doing the best they can to adapt to the changing circumstances and follow the rules. Be prepared for contracts to change and don’t pressure your contractor to cut corners/ignore safety guidelines in order to get your building project completed.
Once work starts/restarts, you should also consider planning for future restrictions and what you and the contractors will do in the event that another lockdown prevents works from being carried out/completed.
If you were mid-way through having home improvement work done when the lockdown began, be aware of rogue traders. Trading Standards are reporting increased levels of fraudulent activity from people who are not skilled or professional builders offering to complete work quickly and cheaply.
Finally, no worker should be pressured into coming to work if they have concerns about risks to their own health or that of family members. Please be understanding and support each other during these challenging times.
If you have any questions about home improvement work after lockdown and complying with the new guidance or just questions about creating your dream home in general, go ahead and book a free call below with Yoop.
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