Home renovations and project planning during COVID-19
The COVID-19 pandemic has affected everyone and everything. For some homeowners, its timing came at a particularly bad time. Those in the middle of a renovation saw their project slow down. Some wondered if their project would be put on hiatus for the unforeseeable future.
Happily for them, the Ontario government listed residential construction projects essential where the renovation work started before April 4, and where a footing permit has been granted for single family, semi-detached and townhomes.
This technically allowed us to continue working on all our projects, but – in practice – most of our work has been interrupted or dramatically slowed down to accommodate the concerns of our clients and subtrades who are isolating at home.
On April 30, the government released its Health and Safety Association Guidance Documents for Workplaces During the COVID-19 Outbreak. The construction sector guidelines cover everything from supervisor and worker responsibilities to how to handle paperwork.
These guidelines are critical to help safeguard the health and safety of clients and workers during the pandemic. Under Ontario law, employers have the duty to keep workers and work sites safe and free of hazards. Addressing the pandemic has simply added to the list of protocols.
Construction companies and their employees must follow controls to help limit the spread of the coronavirus. Like anywhere else, workers must observe at least two meters distance from one another, delivery personnel and clients. On our project sites, we currently receive materials with touchless curbside delivery. Subtrades are now allowed generally exclusive access to the home while they operate, and homeowners are not allowed on the premises while work is ongoing.
Notification of our COVID-19 guidelines is posted at the main entrance of each of our active jobsites, and any subtrade entering the premises must provide a declaration of their health status. Our on-site teams wear face masks as they work, and access to handwashing with soap and water or alcohol gel is standard operating procedure. Any worker who feels sick must self-isolate immediately and seek clinical assessment over the phone.
Design and estimation work on new projects are ongoing despite the temporary suspension of new permit application processing, to ensure we are ready to move as soon as the City reopens.
In-person meetings have been replaced with virtual meetings that allow screen-sharing of design proposals, estimates and plans. Google Earth and Street View allow our team to assess building sites from afar, and clients provide us with virtual walk-throughs of their homes with a laptop or mobile device in hand. The rapid transition to and acceptance of this “new normal” has ensured that our design and development work can continue to the point of permit submission.
The ease and efficiency of these virtual tours and meetings has been a revelation, and I suspect they will continue to be used post-pandemic.
So: if you are staring at your walls and envisioning a change while on lock-down, know that it is still very possible to proceed with the planning of your home renovation!