With the constantly evolving situation around Coronavirus it is important that any self builders working on site are fully aware of the latest advice and guidance. Always visit www.gov.uk for the latest updates and be sure that you are safe and compliant. Also check for local country updates, for example, Scotland has shut all construction sites, with the exception of essential sites.
At this date, construction sites in England and Wales have not been required to close, but anyone on site must be able to meet Public Health guidance, including for travel arrangements. Read the advice for professional sites by the Construction Leadership Council for examples of good practice.
Meeting the 2m safety requirement may be quite manageable on a self build, especially depending on the work, and many self builders may be working solo on site. If you are working alone on site make sure you are safe, using proper safety equipment and practices, and that someone knows you are on site. Ideally keep you phone on you, too, in case of a fall or trip.
The Federation of Master Builder’s has a general page which has lots of links for help and advice that may prove useful.
Homebuilding & Renovating has a useful rolling guide: Building As Usual, that’s also a great source of information about self building during the crisis.
Many self build mortgage release funds at stages, and these stage payments are still being released by most lenders. BuildStore says its self build customers may want to get evidence of work either via Warranty Certificates or Architects Reports, where possible with photos, to ensure the process runs smoothly – get in touch directly with them to check what is needed.
With regards to other products, check with your provider if you have any concerns in advance. However applications are slowing as these are dependent on valuers, so keep an eye on the situation of who is, and isn’t, working and able to visit sites, as per government guidance.
Be aware that cyber criminals will be taking advantage of people’s concerns during this time, so make sure you protect yourself from phishing and spam calls. Check out the FMB’s guide to protecting yourself, here.
If you are in England and Wales and planning on working on site, make sure that your insurances still cover you and the site by checking with your provider if possible. Many site insurance products have a cessation clause, typically that involve a site not having been worked on in the last 60 days, for example. Providers are reviewing the processes around such clauses, so ensure you check if you are planning to cease work on site to see how you are affected.
You are responsible for ensuring your site is secure and safe, both for visitors, workers and for wider public indemnity. If you are closing your site make sure the perimeter is secure from theft and vandalism, and that any tools and equipment is secured safely on site, or removed where possible. The National Business Crime Centre has some good advice – and while it is designed for larger sites, many of the principles equally apply to smaller sites. Or read Self Build Zone’s advice on Homebuilding & Renovating’s website.
Materials and tools can be a target for theft or damage, so ensure you are protecting your investment. Check out the FMB’s video for preventing tool theft.
One element that is most likely to hamper you working on your own site is a lack of materials, equipment or tradespeople, as so many business have closed temporarily. This might mean you have to get creative and do non-essential jobs you are able to do rather than the most pressing jobs that you can’t right now. For example prestaining or painting timber ready for use, if you have the materials on hand. So be prepared to be flexible and realistic as to what you can achieve.
Using your time well
If you have decided to halt your site, you can still plan for the work yet to be done. Planning and budgeting is never time misspent, especially if you can reach decisions in advance. The internet is a rich source of advice for your project, and many companies have galleries or case studies that are really informative about products and options – allowing you to be aware of the scope of what’s on offer before you make any choices.
For a hand personal take on working on site, read self build specialist Mike Hardwick’s blog on the National Self Build and Renovation Centre’s website.