Lockdown construction fears are growing, amid warnings that more needs to be done to halt the rapid spread of Covid-19, and many embarking on a self build or renovation are likely facing some uncertainty about what the pandemic means for their project in the short-term.
With one month left of lockdown (as things stand), here’s a rundown of the most pertinent questions facing self builders and renovators.
Lockdown Construction - Will it Continue?
Construction has so far been allowed to continue during the third lockdown, providing construction workers socially distance where possible, and ensure hygiene standards are met.
This means that self build and renovation projects can also continue.
However, there is pressure on the government to tighten restrictions, with scientific advisers warning prime minister Boris Johnson that the restrictions do not go far enough.
Meanwhile, new business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng, who replaced Alok Sharma last Friday, said in an open letter to the construction industry this week that construction should be allowed to keep going.
“It is vital that construction continues through these unsettling times and I want to reassure you that the government values the crucial contribution your sector is making,” he said.
The full list of safety recommendations drawn up by the Construction Leadership Council can be found here (opens in new tab).
Are Builders’ Merchants Open?
Yes. Builders’ merchants and garden centres in England have been classed as essential retailers, and there are no restrictions on DIY products.
However, KBB (kitchens, bathrooms and bedrooms) showrooms have had to close.
Are Building Materials Available?
There has been an ongoing plaster shortage since the first lockdown, and timber and roof tiles supplies are generally low at present.
There is also concern that supply chains are stretched, meaning lead times could be longer, and prices could rise on some materials in early 2021.
However, it’s not all doom and gloom. The Brexit deal means that materials from the EU should flow through ports, and retailers including Homebase and Travis Perkins have confirmed they are not experiencing any reduced supplies.
Can Tradespeople Work in Your Home?
Yes, providing they follow social distancing guidelines and maintain hygiene standards.
TrustMark has produced a guide called Work Safe, Safe Work (opens in new tab) to help homeowners and tradespeople stay safe during lockdown. These include:
- Disinfecting doors and handles daily before and after your tradesperson comes into your home
- If you have to get close with a tradesperson, stay side-to-side rather than facing each other.
Is the Housing Market Open?
Unlike the first lockdown in March where the housing market froze, aspiring home buyers and sellers can still participate in viewings and market activity will continue - an important point if you're trying to make the most of the stamp duty holiday.
This week, however, Labour leader Keir Starmer said that housing market activity should be restricted during lockdown, and urged the government to consider restricting the operation of the housing market. This would mean viewings would be stopped and estate agents would be closed.
A petition (opens in new tab) calling for the government to close all estate agents during the current lockdown has attracted more than 3,000 signatures so far.
Jack has worked in journalism for 11 years and is the News Editor for Homebuilding & Renovating, a role he has had since 2019. He strives to break the most relevant and beneficial stories for self builders, extenders and renovators, including the latest news on the construction materials shortage and hydrogen heating. In 2021 he appeared on BBC's The World at One to discuss the government's planning reforms.
He enjoys testing new tools and gadgets, and having bought his first home in 2013, he has renovated every room and recently finished a garden renovation.
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