The Covid-19 lockdown will continue at least until mid-May, and self builders and renovators continue to face difficult decisions about what to do with their projects.
The big question for self builders and renovators in the midst of projects is: should I continue to keep the site operational where possible, or take some downtime and prepare for when work can begin again?
Around three quarters of on-site residential projects have reportedly halted because of the coronavirus pandemic, but self build and renovation sites can remain operational providing social distancing is maintained.
The government has regularly stated its aim to keep Britain building during this crisis to help stimulate the economy, and earlier this month it issued guidance for tradespeople working in people’s homes. In Scotland, however, all non-essential construction work has halted.
If you’re debating the best next step for your project, here’s a rundown of the challenges you could yet face as well as some tips to make the most of your current situation.
The Challenges Facing Projects
Self builders and renovators have already had to contend with a myriad of challenges since lockdown was introduced. These include:
- Some builders merchants closing and supplies being unavailable
- Tradespeople being unable to complete certain tasks because of social distancing requirements
- Self build project timelines and costs being affected if builders are unable to work, or unable to transport required materials.
Jason Orme, Content Director of Homebuilding & Renovating, says that in many instances these challenges have proved too much to overcome. “For most people in the middle of projects, active work has at least slowed down and in most cases stopped completely,” he said.
However, Orme believes there is scope for optimism among those in the midst of projects. “A couple more weeks of lockdown at least provides some certainty for the nation’s army of self builders and renovators. Furthermore, the materials supply market has at least settled down with some suppliers beginning to ease restrictions.”
Keep Your Project Running
If your project remains operational, there are several things you can do to increase its efficiency.
Paul Testa, from Paul Testa Architecture, recommends making use of the resource of companies which can offer you detailed advice on every aspect of your build.
“These companies might have only had five minutes to spare you before the lockdown, but they can now spend an hour with you. So make use of that and build those relationships.”
Testa adds that ultimately the pressure is off self builders and renovators, and you can use the slower pace to your long-term advantage.
“Quite often people are frantically making decisions during build work whereas now they might have two months before they need to make a decision.”
Because active work on sites will have slowed down, and fewer tradespeople will likely be working on your project, you can use this time to make better-informed decisions.
Additional tips to maximise your project’s efficiency include:
- Keep constant communication with construction workers and managers about which areas of the project can be focused on
- Use video chats when face-to-face meetings are not essential
- Follow our live blog for the latest construction updates and information on which builders merchants are operational
Use the Downtime Effectively
If it’s problematic to keep your build site operational then don’t worry, you can make significant progress by stepping away and planning ahead for when lockdown ends.
Some tips to make the most of the downtime include:
- Cross off as much from your to-do list as possible that doesn’t require you travelling to the build site
- Book in works for later in the year as soon as you can – this will help you avoid the rush when things get back to normal
- Spend time giving the interiors some considered thought: from refining furniture layouts to details such as light fittings (if you have not already done so), or hire an interior designer to help you do so.
“Self builders and renovators can use this time to their advantage – you really can never do too much planning and so use this quiet time to plan the project, research materials and second check designs,” says Orme.
“This all pays off in the long term and in the majority of cases self builders don’t give this nearly enough time before rushing into the build itself.”
Testa echoed this advice. “If you’re on site and work has slowed, take advantage to make sure you’re not rushing things when work speeds up again.”