What do the latest lock-down announcements mean – for would-be home renovators?

The construction industry was allowed to continue during the first phase of lock-down, but problems with supply of materials, and the challenges of working with physical distancing, has meant that renovation work has become much slower and trickier to implement.

Following the latest announcements, some of the current barriers to completing work should start to lift.

Construction

As builders’ merchants start to re-open, we anticipate most basic construction materials will be easier to come by, and as deliveries from Europe recommence, we’re hoping to see more specialist and ‘2nd fix’ items arriving.

Contractors have been working more slowly as they are working with reduced teams – both to allow for physical distancing, and because some tradespeople have not been working during this time. (Many are also avoiding public transport and lift-sharing, etc. to sites which makes journey times longer.) 

As the government is now actively encouraging construction workers to return to work, we’re expecting to see more workers available – but challenges with working with appropriate distancing and difficulties with safe transport to and from site mean that longer project times are likely to continue.

We’re encouraging clients with projects ‘on pause’ to plan to restart so that they can get a contractor team secured for the work, place any orders with long lead times, and make sure all regulatory matters have been checked and implemented as necessary.

Bespoke Joinery being assembled on site.
The contractors on this project ordered materials ahead of lock-down so they could continue to build the bespoke joinery.
A utility room in the process of being installed.
Some kitchen suppliers have been able to work, but in small teams, so installation takes longer.
Paint test patches on site
DIY enthusiasm briefly led to a national shortage of paint, but the contractors we work with managed to track some down!

Specialists & suppliers

After the initial three weeks of lock-down, some manufacturers (in the UK and Europe) re-opened their workshops with revised working practices and longer lead times. We expect to see more continue to re-open in the coming weeks after the latest announcements.

Availability of rental properties

We always advise moving out during significant renovation works where possible – there are many risks & hazards on site that are much easier to mitigate if the property is not occupied. (And this is leaving aside the mental torment of living with building works & dust for any length of time…) With house moves strongly discouraged during phase 1 of lock-down, this has been a barrier to starting work for some people.

Moving is likely to become easier in the coming weeks, and with tourism and short-term lets severely disrupted, it may be easier than usual to find a property for a mid-term let for the duration of the works.

Managing the work

If you are working towards renovating, consider engaging a project manager. We’re finding that overcoming the new challenges being created by working safely during the crisis requires all of our expertise, contacts, persistence and existing good relationships with suppliers.

It is also more important than ever to plan ahead – even with restrictions starting to lift, many products and services do have extended lead times, so it’s really crucial take the time to think everything through and to get as much as possible lined up to avoid delays once work starts.

APM are continuing to work – making site visits when it is possible to do so safely, and using video calls to stay connected to the contractor teams, clients and each other.

If you have been considering renovation work and aren’t sure how and when to get started, get in touch.

Team APM working during lock-down, L-R: Cat visiting site / cultivating a home-office jungle / Liz working from home
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