If your home remodel has been sidelined because of COVID-19, you’re not alone. Almost 50 percent of general contractors have had to delay a project in the last six weeks, according to a national survey from the Associated General Contractors of America. But don’t lose hope: as regulation around construction loosens, safety on the job site improves, and regional officials can better assess the risks to communities nationwide. Remodeling your home, then, is not out of the question — especially if you proceed in a cautious, informed way. It’s simpler than you might think. Read on; we’ll clue you in.
Do your research.
Every industry nationwide is dealing with its own new normal in the wake of the pandemic, including construction. Regulations around how operations can continue and mandated modifications are created at both the state and local level, so make sure you’re well versed.
If your region has begun the process of reopening, look to your county’s website for information on sector-by-sector best practices. Your local officials may encourage additional safety precautions beyond state mandates like social distancing and wearing masks; they may ask that businesses retrain their employees, for example, or ban communal lunch breaks. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has also released construction-centric guidelines; find them here.
Plan on being patient.
Delay on a project is a common occurrence in the construction industry even under normal circumstances — it’s a phenomenon that could be further exacerbated by pandemic-related safety protocol. Social distancing among crew members, for example, might reduce the speed at which contractors are able to work, while outside factors like delays in shipping for necessary materials could also have an adverse impact on your remodel timeline.
Operate with a conservative date of completion in mind — and do your best to brace for the unexpected. This might mean also taking into account the financial buffer you’re comfortable working with in case you find yourself facing higher than expected labor costs. It’s also important to communicate openly and often with you general contractor, who can help keep you in the loop.
There’s a long list of additional steps you can take to emphasize the safety of both your family and your general contractor, and you likely won’t find all of them on the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)’s website.
You might think about how you can change the course of your remodel to supplement the additional safety precautions you’re taking. If your remodel spans multiple floors of your home, consider asking your general contractor to work one floor at a time to limit exposure. Looking to finish your basement and redo your upstairs bathroom? Start with the basement — you and your general contractor will have an easier time distancing from each other. Ensure workers have access to a separate entrance and bathroom while in your home, if possible. If you’re finding that everything goes smoothly, make the move into the higher-trafficked areas.
Crews should also work in spaces with open windows in order to facilitate proper ventilation when possible. You might also consider designating entrances in the home — one for you, one for project crews — so as to limit surprise face-to-face meetings.
Consider using Punch List.
Understanding how to make your home remodel physically safer during the pandemic is a crucial step. Still, navigating the logistics — approving finished work and actually paying for it — could prove tricky.
Enter Punch List. The app-based construction project management software centers on making the home remodeling process easier than it’s ever been, providing homeowners with a direct line to general contractors at all time via an in-app direct message function.
Punch List smooths over the process of approving work: General contractors can send written details and pictures of completed renovations through the app’s chat function. Once you’ve eyed the photos and approved a job well done, Punch List will generate an automatic, digital invoice that you can complete in-app. That means funds are transferred directly to your general contractor almost instantly, negating any need for in-person discussions or demonstrations. And no more handing off physical checks — or delays in payment and progress.
Punch List makes it easy for you and your general contractor to complete a home remodel while maintaining social distance -- you never have to set foot on site during the remodel, but you’ll still be able to keep tabs on the remodel progress.
The construction industry is easing into a new kind of normal. As a homeowner, you’ll need to do your part by doing your research and aiding your general contractor in their efforts to keep employees safe. Sometimes that’ll mean getting creative, extending the timeline of your remodel or using technology to help limit in person interaction. Ultimately, it is possible to safely remodel your home right now — and you’ll have to emphasize constant communication while working together with your general contractor in order to do so.