Adapting Major Works Projects In The Current Climate
Despite Government intervention, Covid19 continues to have a significant impact on construction and maintenance projects, however it is possible to keep projects moving. Leaseholders and Managing Agents will be wondering how exactly major works are going to continue safely, whilst complying with all the new and constantly changing restrictions and advice. In this article, we will look at the main changes for major works from a practical perspective:
The Government has produced the document ‘Working safely during COVID-19 in construction and other outdoor work’ (latest update on 29 May 2020). Within this guidance it provides recommendations on moving around buildings and worksites:
· Reduce job equipment rotation, for example, an operative should have single tasks for the day.
· Reduce movement by discouraging non-essential trips within buildings and sites. To do this the contractor should encourage the use of mobile phones and cleaning them between use.
· Separating sites into working zones to keep different groups of workers physically separated as much as practical.
In practical terms this will mean that the time taken to complete projects is likely to be increased as points listed above are going to have a detrimental effect on efficiency.
Although the first question often asked by leaseholders when a scaffold is erected is, “when will it come down again”, we would recommend allowing the contractor extra time to complete the job, if necessary. We would recommend this is discussed early on with your surveyors and contractors to best ascertain the effects on programme and preliminaries costs.
The ‘Working Safely’ document also advises on how to conduct meetings and site inductions:
- Reduce the number of people in attendance at meetings and try holding them outdoors wherever possible (with social distancing).
- Use remote working tools to avoid in-person meetings. Video calls have proved invaluable over the last few months at Hamilton Darcey when a physical site visit was not an option but visual input was required.
- Only absolutely necessary participants should attend meetings and should maintain 2m separation throughout.
- Avoid transmissions during meetings; for example, avoid sharing pens and or other objects.
Managing Agent, leaseholder, surveyor and contractor interaction is commonplace and often necessary for a project to be carried out successfully. This will also need to be carefully considered and face-to-face interaction should be limited as much as possible.
At Hamilton Darcey we are taking the approach of keeping numbers at site meetings limited whilst distributing detailed site progress reports for leaseholders to track progress, whilst also asking leaseholders to submit any issues they want highlighting in writing for the surveyor to pick up in their site meeting with the contractor.
If a leaseholder(s) is shielding this should be conveyed to all parties and updates provided on a regular basis. This may however affect some programmed works, for example where access is needed to a flat for window repairs. Unfortunately costs and delivery time are likely to increase as a result of lost productivity from implementing the government guidance. However, with careful Health and Safety precautions and considerations through the course of the project there is every chance of keeping contractors and occupiers safe whilst getting the economy moving again.