For anybody in the midst of, or about to embark on, a building project, our Co-Founder Kenelm Cornwall-Legh provides some top tips on maintaining momentum as the UK endures the coronavirus (Covid-19).
It is essential for building projects to continue as long as they can for the sake of all involved…
ENSURE STRICT HYGIENE PROCEDURES
Ensure strict hygiene on entering and leaving the site, as well as before and after touching materials. Place hand sanitisers around, and wash hands with warm soapy water for twenty seconds each time. It is also wise to wipe down regularly used items such as door handles, mugs, tea pots, milk and so on at the end of each day. Regular discussions with your workforce to reinforce the importance of handwashing and the NHS / Government guidelines are key to maintaining good hygiene.
ALLOW FOR LONGER LEAD TIMES ON GOODS AND MATERIALS
While many goods and materials are still arriving in the UK, there are less people currently available for handling and delivering these items. It is therefore prudent to allow additional time for orders and deliveries to site and to plan further ahead than usually required.
Although this may seem difficult on a building site, it would be wise to try and limit contact between site workers as much as possible. The main contractor could try staggering lunch breaks to avoid lengthy contact, avoid shaking hands, and rigorous washing and cleaning. Rather than face to face meetings, you should liaise with your contractors via phone, video call or e-mail wherever possible.
CHECK EVERYBODY FOR SYMPTOMS EACH DAY
Your build team should obviously not be working if they are showing any symptoms, and should be self-isolating as per the Government’s guidelines. Anybody that enters the site must be fit and well.
BUILD IN STAGES
It may be worth weighing up the risk and considering phasing projects – i.e. doing works area by area rather than all at once. This could add some additional time and cost, but it should keep properties habitable if required, and ultimately save you money further down the line should you be stuck without a house to live in. Of course, this may not be possible on well advanced projects.
HOLD REMOTE MEETINGS
Stop all face to face meetings unless absolutely essential. With today’s technology, you can speak with everybody via video call, text, phone or email very easily.
ASK IF OTHER KEY PEOPLE CAN WORK REMOTELY
Labourers cannot work remotely, but other people in the process should be able to most of the time. For example, architects can design, update designs, answer technical queries etc remotely. If you have a project manager, they don’t need to be on site as much as they would usually be. When they are, then of course they will adhere to strict personal hygiene, and limit personal contact, but they can do video tours / calls with the builder to inspect the site quite easily. They can also liaise with your workforce via phone rather than meeting face to face.
CHANGE TO WEEKLY OR FORTNIGHTLY PAYMENTS TO KEEP TRADESMEN AFLOAT
Valuations are the mechanism by which payments to the contractor should be calculated. They assess the work undertaken against the contract pricing, so that payments made do not go beyond the work actually completed on site. This de-risks your position. In these unusual and uncertain times, you may consider agreeing weekly or fortnightly valuations instead to help with the contractor’s cashflow.
KEEP THE INDUSTRY MOVING WITH MINOR REPAIRS
Things need to keep moving as much as possible, as people need work. There’s a very real risk of building firms (and others) going out of business so we need to do all we can to keep work flowing. If you’ve been thinking of having any minor works done (particularly external, given the circumstances), such as decorating and landscaping, now could be a great time. This community approach is crucial. We all need to look out for each other and protect the community’s interests, not just our own.
NEW PROJECTS CAN STILL GET GOING
If you were considering starting a new building project, but now unsure, there are still various things you can do at the moment. For example, project feasibility assessments can be undertaken, where you look at design and cost options. Measured surveys may not be possible but that’s ok, designs can be based on existing floor plans, or even estate agent plans, or neighbouring properties. For any other crucial measurements, you can always get your tape measure out! This could also be an ideal time to be researching interior ideas. The key is to keep positive, operate as normally as possible and to use the time productively.
Stay at home and stay healthy!
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If you’d like to discuss your building or renovation project please do not hesitate to contact Run Projects: firstname.lastname@example.org or 0207 384 1160