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Updated: Oct 18, 2021

In light of the Winter Lockdown which started 5th November 2020, After Build are meeting the challenge of organising ‘safe-working’ in other people’s homes.

Last time, construction industry was faced with securing sites and for some, suspending all activities before the hammer fell on building works. However, this time round, things feel a little different and, as a sector, we’re more prepared.

Since the recent announcement of the November Lockdown, After Build have consulted with various industry bodies to ensure any decisions that may affect our clients and their contractors, are informed ones. It was clear from the Prime Minister’s statement that the construction industry should remain open where it is safe to do so, but there was no mention of non-construction repairs.

Our question was: Can contractors access people’s homes in the lockdown, for repairs?

This question effects several bodies including social and private landlords and any developer, contractor or occupier who has a stake in the house builder’s aftercare liability.

Many of our colleagues will have seen the Q&A Tweets posted over the weekend by Robert Jenrick, the Secretary of State for Housing, in which he laid out scenarios that could take place throughout the lockdown. He confirmed that a tradesperson could enter someone’s house to carry out repairs.

We were signposted to these Tweets by the Homes and Communities Agency, who have a spotlight on new homes at the moment, and by Insider Housing who released a news bulletin confirming the inference that the repairs community will continue working through November or until told otherwise.

Steve Turner, Director of Communications at the Home Builders Federation, confirmed to us, “The consensus is that if contractors are working to agreed protocols in terms of the measures in place to protect them, and customers, then work can continue. He went on to say …. The Government and HBF jointly issued a charter that allowed sites to open back in May, and I know the FMB (through the CLC) developed guidance for builders carrying out remedial works – so as long as they are adhered to we believe work can continue.”

Based on what we have learned, there is a clear message for our developer and contractor colleagues. Defects arising during the Builder’s Rectification Period can and should continue to be addressed during lockdown.

There are some caveats to this message, which we will be publishing more about but, for the time being, we want those with a stake in the BRP to understand that the Lockdown and Covid-19 are not reasons in themselves not to continue to attend for repairs.

As always, the number one concern of any organisation should be the welfare of its employees and those people that they come into contact with. The government has made public details of safe working practices for social distancing and we are making those available here and on our website.

Access granted to contractors should be made possible on this basis and always assuming that individual trades are taking proper precautions when entering people’s houses. Developers and main contractors should be mindful of supporting any individual operative in securing the correct PPE and training to fully understand their health and safety obligations.

What are After Build doing to help?

After Build have published ‘safe-working’ protocols for all our clients and have communicated our advice for best practice to those contractors who work with us, and the occupiers whose properties we manage.

Our aim is to continue to facilitate the same remote management of the Builder’s Rectification Period and provide a high level of service to our clients. We want to keep jobs moving but only when we can do it safely.

We are also contacting the major warranty providers to have proactive dialogue about a possible surge in jobs over the winter months, where resources to carry out a normal repairs service may be limited. In the meantime, our Out of Hours service will continue to provide support to homeowners reporting a legitimate emergency.

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