When Covid-19 hit the United States in March 2020, it affected millions of businesses around the country and caused many to close their doors temporarily and some business to permanently shut down. These businesses included those related to new home construction, renovation, and repair; many families had to delay projects they had been planning. But, over last summer and into the fall, a lot of home service providers were up and running again with precautions in place, such as wearing masks, wearing gloves, and using disinfectant.
Even with those precautions in place, many homeowners might be worried about hiring for their remodeling or new home construction projects. Having contractors inside the home during a pandemic would make anyone anxious. However, you can make sure that the project will be as safe as possible if you take certain steps during the hiring process.
Before you hire a general contractor to remodel your home, or build a new home, you should do thorough research. Obviously, you want to limit how much contact you have with people at the moment, but through emails, phone calls, and even video calls, you can contact home builders and contractors in your area. Check out their websites as well to see if they have detailed information on what steps they are taking to stay safe from Covid-19. Many construction companies have also integrated live chat into their websites, and you can talk to them using that feature.
Make sure you have some photos, drawings or videos that you can give to potential service contractors to let them get an idea for what work is to be done. You can always email them over, but video conferencing works good as well. That way you can talk about what you’re looking for while also showing them the images. With the images and the information you provide, you should be able to get a good estimate even without them seeing your home.
During this pandemic you want to limit person-to-person contact, fortunately a lot of your research can be done online. Make sure to read all of the reviews for the contractors that you are considering. By now, there will be no doubt some reviews that mention Covid-19 precautions contractors are taking along with their workmanship and customer service. This can help narrow down your list of options. However, for some projects, the contractor may need to visit your home to give you proper estimate. If there are unique aspects to the project, or complications such as complex landscape or surrounding property, then they may need to see it in person.
It’s never been a better time to take advantage of online idea books. These will help you share and collaborate with your designers and professionals. You can show them what you’re looking for, and they can also provide feedback and other design ideas. These applications can also make scheduling and asking questions simpler so you may want to choose a contractor that uses one.
Understand the Guidelines
We’ve all heard the recommendations from the various health authorities throughout the pandemic. They include masking and social distancing. These are for personal behaviors, but there are guidelines for industries, including construction. Make sure that you read up on information from the CDC, OSHA, and various construction associations, such as the National Association of Home Builders and the Associated General Contractors of America. By understanding all of the rules and regulations, you can identify if a contractor is cutting corners. Most of this information is easily available on public health websites and on the websites of the organizations themselves.
Ask Good Questions
Communication is very important when going through the hiring process for home service professionals. Make sure that you ask a lot of questions, and make sure that they are the right questions. Ask them about their protocols, and be open about your own anxiety about having people in your home.
Make sure to ask them how they will communicate with you, and what their protocol is if there are issues. They should be committed to communicating with you every day if you wish, and providing updates throughout the project. If anything changes, they must offer to notify you immediately. Some of this information may be on a company’s website, but it’s valuable to get it straight from the horse’s mouth as well.
Ask questions about the protocols they’ll have in place for your specific project, such as what they will do to keep everyone isolated and distanced. They should be very detailed and make you feel confident that they can achieve what they say they can. After you’ve asked the questions, try to choose a limited number of questions to the contractor for when you meet in person. In the past, pre-pandemic, most home owners would save their questions to ask their contractor or home builder in person. During these times limiting in-person contact should be a priority, your contractors will appreciate this as well.
Choose the Right Project
Millions of people are finding themselves spending more time at home than ever before. This means that a lot of home renovation projects are about making new spaces, or re-configuring rooms into offices. Many are also looking at making their current spaces multi-functional because they are doing more activities at home. Some are even adding bedrooms, offices, pools and work out rooms to their homes to accommodate isolation if necessary.
It might be a good time to take on outdoor projects if having people in your home is worrisome for you. This can be landscaping work, gardens, driveways, or pools. The requests for new rooms and re-configurations are at an all-time high, so you may have trouble finding a contractor to do indoor work in an appropriate timeline.
You should always know what you are getting into when it comes to a home renovation, new home build or remodel. Will you be staying in your home while the work is being done? Be prepared to deal with loud noises and disruptions. Not only that, but you will be closer to workers, which means more chances for Covid-19 transmission. That said, you can make sure that they are following safety protocol, such as placing plastic sheets between rooms in which they are working and the rest of the house.
Your contractor should have made it very clear what to expect during the project. However, they are probably not used to having so many people at home during the day when they are working. This is good in the sense that you can keep track of your project, but then you will also have to deal with things like water and power shut-offs that you would have missed if you’d been at work. You may also lose your internet at times, which could affect your work as well.
Associated General Contractors of America is a trade group that has laid out recommendations for contractors and their crews. Some of those guidelines include washing hands before leaving the site, asking for 6 feet of space from the occupants of the home, and not having visitors on the job site. They also should be screening workers for symptoms, such as cough and fever. On top of that, workers should be wearing protective equipment such as gloves and masks at all times.
They must also have the proper PPE supplies (personal protective equipment) for when they are on the job site. This includes having a portable toilet and a portable sink. That way, they won’t have to use the homeowner’s.
You should never hire a home services professional that you can’t trust, but it’s never been more important. With a pandemic raging around the world, you need to make sure that your contractor provides safety along with quality workmanship.