Building As Usual (BAU): LIVE UPDATES on Lockdown, Merchants and More

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The National Custom and Self Build Association has tweeted its support for builders still working on projects across the UK.


DIY-savvy Brits may be relishing the prospect of doing their own jobs for a while, but for millennials, the return of tradespeople can’t come quickly enough.

Tradesmen directory surveyed 1,073 millennials in the UK about how confident they felt doing their own DIY jobs. Millennials, look away now.

Respondents could not identify eight out of 15 tools on average, and a review of Google Trends over the last 24 hours revealed that asking whether DIY stores are staying open during lockdown have increased by 3,000%.

While doing your own DIY can save costs, it’s important to only commit to DIY projects you are confident and experienced in, and know what to leave to the professionals.


Construction News is reporting that it has seen an email from a senior prime ministerial adviser which says the government is not closing construction sites nor is it encouraging them to.


Fears for construction workers at build sites has been raised by many, but not so much fears for employers. Now, Forbes’ legal experts say closing construction sites could protect employers just as much as workers.

David Mayor, an associate in the insurance law team at Forbes Solicitors, added: “The Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 (CDM 2015) are underpinned by the need to identify and control site hazards, avoiding or reducing risk where possible.

“It will be difficult for government guidance to be wholly observed and if it ends-up actually increasing risk, employees could reasonably claim a breach of the Regulations or other health and safety legislation. This is a needless and avoidable scenario for both employers and workers.”

Underpinning the concern for construction workers is that social distancing is difficult and impractical to enforce on some build sites.


60% of Builders Cease Work

More than half (60%) of builders have stopped between 76% and 100% of their work, according to the Federation of Master Builders (FMB) this morning, which says only emergency and critical construction work should be allowed to continue.

Furthermore, the FMB says around two-thirds of its members believe the government is not doing enough to support, citing the safety concerns now being commonly raised over travelling to and working on build sites.

Brian Berry, chief executive of the FMB, said: “Most FMB members have already taken the lead and ceased the majority of their work. It is almost impossible to follow Public Health England’s social distancing advice on many sites, and it would therefore be safer to close them.”

Berry concluded: “No one should have to choose between feeding their family and protecting their health and yet that is the position many builders currently find themselves in.”

The FMB has also pushed for chancellor Rishi Sunak to support self-employed builders equally as well as those on PAYE. The government has been challenged for days to provide a financial support package for self-employed workers, many of whom are builders.


Interest in Extensions Soars by 20%

Inquiries for extensions, garden rooms and home offices have risen by a fifth in the last week, according to modular house-builder Built & Spaces, as more of us realise we need more space if we’re going to be homebound for several weeks.

Steve Wilkie, Director of Built & Spaces, said: “People are suddenly working from home, looking around and they’re thinking, ‘I need more space.’ Homeowners might have been thinking about extending their house for years, but now they’ve got time to do something about it.”

Parents were reported as fielding the most enquiries, with parents across the UK trying to juggle work commitments with their children being off school.

(MORE: Coronavirus: Keep Busy at Home With These Easy Home Improvement Projects)

25 March 2020 08.50

Wednesday’s Recap

Welcome back to Building as Usual’s (BAU) live updates on how the lockdown is affecting the homebuilding industry.

Wednesday saw Boris Johnson defend the decision to keep build sites open, despite the risks posed by the spreading coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic and mounting clamour for the government to protect builders, many of whom had been seen cramming into London Tubes to get to work.

Given the uncertainty over which build sites should remain open, the Construction Leadership Council sought to provide clarity by issuing guidance to the construction industry, urging employers to use their common sense when managing live projects and ensuring that employees can follow the government’s guidance and practice safe social distancing on site.

Meanwhile Selco announced that it will cease trading for three weeks. But JewsonTravis PerkinsScrewfix and Toolstation are among the builders merchants still operational in some capacity, albeit only through delivery services.

It was quite the day. Stay with us throughout this beautifully sunny Thursday for the latest news and updates relating to your building projects and the wider construction industry.


How to Protect Your Build Site

We’ve just had this in from Self Build Zone managing director Paul Kempton, who recommends self builders adopt a gamut of measures to protect their build site from more than coronavirus.

“In times such as these the main problems outside of your control are going to probably be theft and arson,” says Kempton.


Making a Valuable Contribution

This tweet from Paul Fasham serves to raise awareness of how everyday people can make a valuable contribution during these unprecedented times.


Johnson Rebuffs Construction Fears

Departing Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn took aim at Boris Johnson’s policy over build sites in Mr Corbyn’s last-ever Prime Minister’s Questions, asking: “Can the Prime Minister be absolutely clear that construction work on non-emergency work should stop now?”

Somewhat predictably, the Prime Minister remained stoic. Mr Johnson said people should work at home “unless they must go to work” to keep the economy afloat, and reiterated the need for social distancing. 

For now, no change regarding the government’s stance.


Advice Issued for Heating Engineers

The Heating & Hotwater Industry Council (HHIC) has issued updated advice to heating engineers, based on daily changing government recommendations.

Engineers are still working nationwide, and must maintain a 2m distance from any household occupants to ensure everyone’s safety.

Additionally, HHIC says: “No work should be carried out in any household which is isolating or where an individual is being shielded, unless it is to remedy a direct risk to the safety of the household, such as emergency plumbing or repairs, and where the tradesperson is willing to do so. In such cases, Public Health England can provide advice to tradespeople and households.”


Khan Challenges Johnson

London Mayor Sadiq Khan is leading the demand for government action with regards to build sites. The Prime Minister can expect quite the outcry during Prime Minister’s Questions, which has just begun in the House of Commons.


Johnson Under Pressure to Close Build Sites

The government is facing calls to close build sites as fears escalate about ensuring safety at building sites and preventing the spread of coronavirus (Covid-19).

Many construction workers were seen on packed London Tubes yesterday attending build sites, and as Boris Johnson appears before MPs today for Prime Minister’s Questions, he is under growing pressure to halt non-essential construction work.

Mr Johnson is also facing calls to provide a financial support package for self-employed workers, many of whom are builders.

25 March 2020 10.19

Introducing BAU

We’re committed at Homebuilding & Renovating to keeping you informed of anything that matters in the world of self build, home renovation and construction. That’s why today we’re launching BAU which stands, rather cleverly we think, for Building As Usual. Because, while this current crisis is anything but usual, we’re sure that you, our community of homeowners looking to create their dream home, and tradespeople, designers and builders, will find a way to keep on building – in whatever format.

Check back here regularly for updates of essential news, merchant openings (and closing), and find out what everyone else is doing to make the best of all this.

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