Essential vs. Non-Essential Construction During COVID-19

Construction during COVID-19

Retail stores and other commercial businesses have adjusted to the COVID-19 pandemic as possible. Social distancing governs how we live, work, shop, and play. We’re living in a strange time now.

There’s been much discussion about essential and non-essential services in the United States. How we do business in the construction industry is greatly altered.

“Essential” construction industry projects are prioritized and may resume quickly. “Non-essential” construction projects may be on hold another month. Or longer.

Essential Construction

San Francisco has defined essential vs. non-essential construction for in-the-works projects. There are 8 categories of essential construction projects that may continue working if they follow social distancing requirements:

  1. Affordable housing/income restricted residential units’ development
  2. Construction necessary to safeguard existing construction sites
  3. Construction/repairs for Essential Businesses’ properties
  4. Critical, non-commercial services projects involving homeless, economically disadvantaged, special-needs, and/or elderly
  5. Healthcare projects directly related to COVID-19 response
  6. Projects directly involved with maintenance, operation, or repair of Essential Infrastructure.
  7. Public works projects
  8. Shelters/temporary housing (not including hotels/motels)

The Gray Areas

Companies must follow state-and-local-government-specific construction guidelines. In most areas, non-essential projects are on hold. “New parts of a non-essential infrastructure project” may not be started. However, if your project falls under the non-essential category, there are situations in which you might be able to complete work.

For example:

  • Completion is permissible if the work needed to shut down the project is equal to/more than completing the project.
  • If a housing project has a defined percentage of affordable housing, construction may continue.
  • New housing starts must meet a “critical need.”
  • Residential renovations may continue if the continuance is necessary for safety/functionality.
  • Residential work on vacant properties may proceed if the work will make the property habitable. Construction can be completed to guarantee usable:
    • Bathrooms
    • Ceiling/walls paint (for sanitation to prevent mold/vermin infestations)
    • Electricity
    • HVAC (heating, ventilation, air conditioning)
    • Kitchens
    • Plumbing
  • Roof installation can continue for weather protection.
  • You’ve got 3 walls built. You can build the fourth wall so the structure “stands secure.”

Site-Specific Health and Safety

By now you have developed your company’s site-specific health and safety plan, based on COVID-19 Construction Field Safety Guidelines. Record-keeping is critical: You will need to be able to track employee movements and note potential exposure events.

Be prepared. Soonyou’ll need to work harder…and smarter.

Construction Monitor’s success depends on your success. And the success stories for 2020 will be the construction industry-related businesses that used construction data to gain insight and develop marketing strategies. Call 800-925-6085 or contact Construction Monitor to learn more.

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