Coronavirus: can my building work continue?

With new Coronavirus measures in place, what happens to renovation work and other building projects in people's homes? We examine the latest available information

coronavirus: can my building work continue?
(Image credit: Getty)

As the UK goes into countrywide lockdown to try and slow the spread of Covid-19, there has been considerable confusion among builders, homeowners, and employers around current building projects and whether they're allowed to continue. If you are in the middle of a house renovation or extending a house, is this type of project allowed to continue? 

While the government is standing firm on major building sites continuing work so long as it's outdoors and social distancing is observed, the situation is much less clear on building work done on residential homes indoors. If you currently have builders in a home that you own, what is the right thing to do? 

Senior minister Michael Gove has offered an attempt at clarification on building work that should and shouldn't be happening on ITV's Good Morning Britain:

'If it is the case you are reconstructing or building a home in which there is no one present, that is appropriate and it can go on.

'But if we’re talking about the sort of construction work that involves a builder coming into home in order to deliver an extension or something like that, that would seem not appropriate and not in line with the clear guidance.'

When asked to clarify, Gove said that builders coming into a home that's currently occupied to deliver an extension would not be appropriate under current rules. This makes the situation a little bit clearer, for the time being, although pressure is growing on the government to stop all non-emergency building work in homes and on construction sites. 

Nicola Sturgeon has advised building workers not to come into work, as has London's Mayor Sadiq Khan. Many building firms have pointed out the fact that it's difficult or impossible to observe social distancing on a building site. 

At this point, if your builders' employer take the decision to close operations, there's not a lot you can do, unless the completion of the work is essential to the site's safety. If the builders working on your renovation/extension project are worried about coronavirus, it would be prudent to pause work until the lockdown is lifted, or to allow the workers to operate at a reduced capacity to ensure their safety. Of course, if your project is near completion, this may not be possible, but for projects that still require a lot of work, it is best to renegotiate the time frame.  

Finally, if you have builders working in your property, ensure they have ample hand sanitizer and access to hot water and soap to wash their hands.