Most construction managers and home builders are overwhelmed just trying to plan their way through the COVID-19 pandemic, much less think about the future. However, now is the time to start planning and preparing for the post-social distancing market. Here is what you need to know about recovery in the short term and the long term.
Short-Term: Prepare Your Project to Start Back Up
Different states have created different definitions for what they deem “essential” workers. Washington State’s Stay Home, Stay Healthy order deemed home construction workers “non-essential,” halting many projects overnight. If your project was affected, it is important to prepare your job site to become operational as soon as the order is lifted.
Use this time to review your project scope and make adjustments based on the new time. Set new dates for completion, and review them with the client to make sure you are on the same page.
While you are making adjustments, document the current state of your work site and see what needs to be repaired. If the job site has sat vacant over the past few weeks or months, there may be problems or unexpected issues that need to be addressed. Flooding from storms, damaged infrastructure, missing materials or tools, and broken machinery are all issues you may need to build into your budget and timeline.
Short-Term: Order Materials Now
Disruptions to the construction supply chain are expected to continue, which means you may not have the materials you need once your job site opens again. This could cause further delays that your customers are less understanding about.
Use this downtime to secure the materials you need and have them shipped to the site or to a storage space. Giving your suppliers added lead time to secure your materials will help them to find ways to source things that may be in limited supply. The cost of storage you pay now may be worth the time and money you save competing in a limited-supply market.
Long-Term: Consider Safety Upgrades to Your Job Sites
Several leading industry experts are calling the safety precautions used on job sites during the pandemic “the new normal.” While some of the more extreme social-distancing measures may be lessened once the worst of the virus passes, there are several best practices that you may want to adopt fully.
“By improving standards to protect our most important assets, our people, we can ‘grab the bull by the horn’ and revolutionize ourselves, coming out the other end more efficient, with safer, healthier job sites,” Brad Tabone, Cofounder of HammerTech, writes at ConstructionDive.
Aspects of the job site like improved protective gear, close enforcement by management, and clear guidelines are good habits that some construction companies implemented long before the coronavirus was in the news. These companies have only had to make minor adjustments to the CDC- and WHO-recommended health and safety changes.
At the bare minimum, use this time to develop clear and effective standards for safety culture. Think about how you can better protect your workers and make your expectations clear. This will make your job site safer while improving the overall health of your employees.
The construction industry wants work levels to pick up again and for business to return to where it was pre-COVID-19. However, some changes are for the better, so use this downtime to update your plans, order the materials you will need, and decide which safety measures should become standard practice.