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Commercial Building during a Pandemic: How to Move Forward

Due to the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), the construction industry faces challenges that restrict the way they do business efficiently, particularly with building projects. While construction still falls under the “essential business” category, some areas of the business are experiencing stricter limitations, especially on the type of construction allowed (e.g., affordable housing, critical infrastructure, etc.).

If your construction project is one of the fortunate ones continuing despite the pandemic, here are some considerations:

Hold Regular Inspections

Even if you don’t have your full crew reporting on-site, regular inspections (e.g., construction progress monitoring) give you an idea of the work that has been completed. Full-service commercial building contractors in Fort Wayne would also recommend holding virtual walk-through inspections so that you can keep track of projects without compromising your safety.

Open Communication Channels

Due to the pandemic, the current situation of the society changes without an end date secured in the future. For this reason, all involved parties (e.g., consultants, contractors, owners, and lenders) should communicate more often using email or phone.

Video conferencing has become the communication tool of choice during the pandemic. Use ZOOM or other video conferencing tools so you can still meet with clients in-person, albeit online.

Rethink Your Schedules

In terms of timelines, consider the following questions:

  • Is your building project’s schedule still possible, given the current climate?
  • How long will it take for your materials to reach the site? How will this affect the schedule?
  • Is there enough labor allowed on-site to keep the project moving forward?

Work with your contractor to re-construct your schedule in accordance with the workforce, funding, inspecting entities, and other factors impacting your project. Your contractor can help you establish realistic and revised timelines. Your fund control manager can also assist you in flagging materials/items that can cause shipment or production delays.

Monitor Your Costs

computation of expenses

Costs go hand-in-hand with materials, labor, and the project timeline, as any problem associated with these factors can negatively impact your costs. With delays, general conditions can also affect your costs. Insistence on completing the schedule despite the pandemic could also cause contentions, which can result in premium pays and additional overtime.

Review your project carefully to identify factors that can impact the budget, whether it is due to labor shortages, schedule considerations, or material shortages.

Have COVID-19 Protocols in Place

Most commercial construction projects already have procedures in place, but it helps to institute COVID-19 protocols to address safety and production concerns. Updated safety protocols should include specific pandemic-related measures such as checking the temperatures of workers before allowing them on the site, daily contractor check-ins, required staggering start times, and rotating breaks, requiring the wearing of masks, and regular cleaning/sanitation.

While creating and new protocols take time, it’s a worthwhile effort that ensures the safety of all parties involved, as well as offers peace of mind.

The industry’s fate seems uncertain now, but the best way to move forward is to adapt to best practices quickly. Doing so will ensure that your project finishes on time despite the pandemic.

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