As lockdown measures are slowly eased, there is much uncertainty about what areas of work can resume and which still pose a risk. Building work with properties remains a key area of confusion with many wanting to resume construction work as soon as possible. So what should you do if you are looking to call in the contractors but want to keep them and you as safe as possible? Here are a few tips:
Conduct non-essential communications online
If you are looking for a quote for a new project, or need to update your contractor on the current state of your project, consider conducting as much of this part of the discussion as possible online. Send pictures, discuss on the phone and clarify quotes and specifications via email. Naturally, seeing a project in the flesh so to speak is necessary to confirm exact details, but the vast majority can be discussed without the need to meet face to face. Remember to back up any verbal conversations or agreements with a quick email to confirm, as this will act as a valuable paper trail should there be any changes or discrepancies in the future.
Maintain social distancing
If the building work is to be conducted within your home, make sure that you adhere to social distancing at all times. Keep the kids well away, perhaps encouraging them to make a den in the living room or turn it into a home cinema and watch a few movies, coupled with some popcorn and other sweet treats. If you need to speak with your contractors whilst they are in your property, maintain the 2 metre distancing rule and wear a face covering, being sure to follow strict hand washing practices both prior to applying the mask and after you remove it. Ideally, you should put on a new face covering each time you are close to your contractors to avoid any cross-contamination within the home from applying and removing the same mask multiple times.
Provide separate refreshment facilities
This may sound a little extreme but don’t worry, I’m not talking about kitting them out with an entire mobile kitchen and staff room! But to avoid any risks of cross contamination, if you have a travel kettle for example, it would be worth providing your contractors with the ability to make themselves a drink directly, without having to either use your cups or you bring their cups into your kitchen in order to make a drink. This is all about keeping your contractors as distanced as possible, and with mounting evidence that the virus can be transmitted particularly well on hard surfaces, everything you can do to minimize transmission will help to keep all parties involved safe.
Use a separate bathroom
Not everyone has the benefit of having two bathrooms in their property, but if you are fortunate enough, dedicate one bathroom to the family and the other to your contractors. This means that you can keep all contact separate and you can fully disinfect the bathroom after the contractors have left. Remember, this is also about keeping them safe as much as you and your family, so this is yet another step towards avoiding any kind of cross contact.
Submit regulation checks online
Some building work will require inspection and sign off before being able to progress to the next phase and typically this would involve a building inspector visiting the property to review the works and advise on any modifications that may need to be made. Some of these approvals are now able to be conducted online, through the submission of detailed photographs and descriptions which include all of the measurements, materials and positions. Bear in mind that not all authorities will offer this and it may only apply to certain types of building work, so be sure to check with your own authority and regulators to see if any planned physical visits can be replaced with an online submission instead.
Get away for a few hours
If you’ve got trustworthy contractors in place, why not consider vacating the property for a few hours and leaving them to it? You could take the kids for a long walk or a bike ride and even pack up a picnic to help make a day out of it. This will not only give you all some much needed fresh air and family time but will help to reduce the risks of any accidental contact because the kids don’t understand what social distancing actually means in practice!
Despite the continued uncertainty that Coronavirus presents to communities across the world, there is a real desire to return some sort of normality to everyday life and this includes getting people back to work. Whilst there will always be a risk of spreading the virus when anyone who is not part of your household enters your property, these steps can help to maintain the all important social distancing that can ensure the risks of transmission are as low as possible.