Tips for Completing Your Development Projects amidst the COVID-19 Pandemic

April 30, 2020 • Author: Howard Taylor
tips-for-projects-during-covid-19

The economy in our country, as a whole, has felt major negative impacts as a result of the Coronavirus. As Forbes has observed, there are entire industries projecting substantial losses for the year. However, the affects on the construction industry vary depending on the job type and the location of the project. Most local governments view construction as an essential business. You can find out if your project will be put on hold, or maintain business as usual by viewing this interactive map from ConstructConnect. The state of Florida considers construction projects to be essential, but even still, there are currently 235 projects which are “on hold” or “delayed indefinitely”.

For even further details regarding status of construction sites in the state of Florida, you can read the Executive Order from the Office of the Governor by clicking here. A full list of state-by-state orders can be found on the Partner ESI website here.

The latest Department of Labor reports indicate 30.2 million Americans filed for unemployment as the Coronavirus keeps the economy shut down. Many employees who work in construction are thankful to still be earning a paycheck. It’s a relief to many in the field, many of whom are the primary breadwinners in their household, that they will still be able to support their families financially. However, construction workers also express concerns about not practicing social distancing, thus risking the spread of the disease to their families, or becoming sick themselves. If your projects have the benefit of moving forward, you may want to consider the below steps to keep your team happy and your business thriving through this unprecedented time.

COMMUNICATE

Use all the resources available to you in this era of digital communication. It is crucial for the safety and the conscience of your crew and your partners that you communicate in detail and often. That means you should be calling, emailing, and video conferencing with lenders, owners, general contractors, etc. Keep everyone aware of any changes to your building schedule, construction progress, and certainly communicate your business’s plan for keeping worksites as safe and healthy as possible. Communicate regularly with your clients and crew about how your company is contributing the national effort to flatten the curve of the Coronavirus.

“It is crucial for both the safety and the conscience of your crew and your partners that you communicate in detail, and often.”

REEVALUATE

Since so many businesses worldwide have significant delays in their transactions as a result of COVID-19, you have to step back and consider what changes should be made to your project, and how to account for the anticipated set-backs. You could be looking at long delays in receiving materials, or possibly cancellations of your orders due to out of stock items. Your schedule may be pushed back because your subcontractors are stuck in their home states due to travel restrictions. You may be short staffed because some of your crew had to quit the job, to stay home and care for their children whose schools or daycare facilities were shut down. Obvious cost implications are involved with any changes to your original project plans, so be sure you have room in your budget to account for unexpected events. This goes back to our first tip about communicating regularly with your teams, merchants, and accountants, too.

RISK MANAGEMENT

Some slight accommodations are being made for businesses when it comes to regulations. Take for instance, compliance with OSHA standards. The US Department of Labor Through the Directorate of Construction, issued a memo regarding employer’s “good-faith”. The statement announced OSHA’s understanding that during a national health emergency, it may be difficult for employers to prepare for inspections. Businesses in the construction Industry were notified that “CSHOs should evaluate whether the employer made good-faith efforts to comply with applicable OSHA standards”.

However, you can’t guarantee that type of empathy from every party. It’s important that you or your attorney review your contracts and agreements to check for legal repercussions, should the Coronavirus result in the delay or shut down of your project. Again - communication, communication, communication!

Also consider the health risks of COVID-19 on your crew. It’s important to take the steps recommended by the CDC to keep workers healthy and feeling safe. Some examples would include instructing workers to stay home if they’re feeling sick, limiting the number of workers on site at one time, keeping worksites clean after each shift, providing masks to be worn at all times, etc. For additional guidance on how to prevent the spread of COVID-19 on your worksite, read this industry-specific alert from OSHA for the construction workforce.

No one knows how long the quarantines and shutdowns will last, but we know that the construction industry will always be essential to Florida’s economy. Stay grounded, don’t panic, and keep your eyes on the prize. Things will return to normal in due time.