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HIA Update on the construction industry lockdown

HIA Update on the construction industry lockdown

HIA: Greater Sydney update
on construction restrictions

Housing Industry Og Australia (HIA) has recently provided the following information to members, answering some of the questions you may have around definitions, terms and amendments to Covid-19 regulations. You will also find some tips on how to close the site and manage communications with clients during this time.

The amended Public Health Orders released yesterday provide further clarification regarding what activities are permitted as urgent work on residential building sites until 30 July.

HIA is awaiting further advice from the NSW Government regarding a small number of other matters. We will advise members on these issues if they impact any of the advice provided to date.

Definition of urgent works on construction sites amended

 

The updated Public Health (COVID-19 Temporary Movement and Gathering Restrictions) Order 2021 has slightly amended the activities recognised as urgent work under clause 24AB (1)(c).

The full clause now reads:

24AB Directions of Minister concerning closure of construction sites

(1) The Minister directs that work is not to be carried out on a construction site in Greater Sydney, unless the work is urgently required for the following purposes:

a) to ensure the safety or security of the construction site,

b) to deal with environmental risks,

c) to maintain and ensure the integrity of the critical plant, equipment or assets, including partially completed works, that would otherwise deteriorate,

d) to receive deliveries of supplies that would otherwise deteriorate,

e) to maintain public utilities,

f) to ensure the safe operation of existing transport infrastructure,

g) by or on behalf of NSW Health in response to the COVID-19 pandemic,

h) because of an emergency.

(2) The Minister directs that an employee or other person is not to enter or remain on a construction site in Greater Sydney, other than to carry out work required under subclause (1).

This updated definition aligns with HIA’s advice yesterday. (19.7.2021)

On this basis, HIA believes the following activities would fall within the scope of urgent works during the shutdown period:

  • making a building site safe and secure including completing partially constructed elements to limit the risk of damage to the structure and to ensure the safety or security of the construction site,
  • ensuring any building materials are securely stored,
  • ensuring any exposed building materials that will be damaged by weather are covered, protected or moved to a safe place,
  • ensuring any building elements that need to be securely fastened are checked and made safe, and
  • ensuring any potential hazards on site are checked and made safe.

HIA’s Site Shutdown checklist can assist members to work through how to manage to close a home building or renovation site.

Managing clients and contracts during the shutdown

 

There are a range of matters beyond the building site that members will also need to manage while the sites are shutdown. These relate to the client, any employees, insurance and finance matters.

HIA’s information sheet Site Shutdown – Managing clients and contracts outlines a range of steps to assist you in understanding what these issues are and the best way to deal with a very complex situation.

HIA’s Workplace Services team are available to help members with any questions relating to these matters.

FAQs on Site Shutdown

 

HIA has fielded a significant number of calls and emails from members asking a broad range of questions about activities permitted during the shutdown. These FAQs may help members to determine what activities can be undertaken. If not, please contact HIA’s Building Services team.

Can I do emergency roofing and gutters of an occupied home in Greater Sydney that would otherwise result in water ingress issue?

Yes. The Public Health Orders permit urgent work at an existing home for the purpose of ensuring the safety and security of the site, to deal with environmental risks (i.e. weather) and to maintain integrity of the building that would otherwise deteriorate.

A person is permitted to visit a place of residence in Greater Sydney if the work is urgently required to ensure the health, safety or security of the place of residence or the members of the household.

The workers should only remain on site for the duration of that work and upon making the building weather tight, other work would then need to cease upon making the site safe and secure.

Can kitchen manufacturers or similar manufacturing workshops remain open?

Yes. Manufacturing workshops/factories are not listed as businesses or premises required to close, therefore these businesses can continue to operate.

However, going to a construction site is only permitted for deliveries of supplies that would otherwise deteriorate.

Suppliers involved in installations can attend a construction site if the installation is required to maintain the integrity of the building structure that would otherwise deteriorate.

Can I attend a site for delivery such as for windows or framing that was scheduled prior to the closure of sites?

Yes. Construction sites are permitted to receive deliveries of supplies that would otherwise deteriorate. Once these deliveries have been received on a site they can, and should, be made safe and secure to ensure they do not deteriorate or become a risk for theft.

For deliveries – can more than one person be in the same vehicle for a delivery?

Yes. Workers travelling in a work vehicle to undertake a delivery of materials requiring more than one person is permitted.

The Public Health Orders do not permit carpooling in a vehicle in Greater Sydney unless the person is from the same family. However, there is an exemption for people engaged in work travelling in a vehicle for work purposes.

All persons travelling in a vehicle with another person over the age of 16 must carry evidence of their address and produce on request by a police officer.

Can I install a garage door or windows/doors for building security?

It will depend on the circumstances.

The Public Health Orders permit urgent work for the purpose of ensuring the safety and security of the site, to deal with environmental risks (i.e. weather) and to maintain integrity of the building, equipment or assets for partially completed works, that would otherwise deteriorate.

This will require judgement on a case by case situation.

If the non-installation of the garage doors or windows would otherwise:

create a site security issue and there are no other security measures in place in lieu of the door(s)/windows being installed, then installation would make the home secure, or have a detrimental and immediate effect on the structural integrity or weatherproofing of the dwelling then the door(s)/windows would permitted to be installed.

I’ve had a site excavated for a pool, site cut or retaining wall – can I get on site to shore up the excavation to make safe?

Yes. Shoring up of trenches for site cuts and excavation is a critical task to ensure the safety of the site and potentially adjoining properties.

Can I undertake building work at my own home in Greater Sydney during the lockdown?

Yes. There are no restrictions on carrying out building work on your own home that you reside in during the lockdown.

Can site supervisors drive by sites during the lockdown to check on building and site security?

Yes. There are no restrictions on driving through Greater Sydney in a vehicle during the lockdown to check on building site security. A person would also be permitted to attend a construction site to carry out any activities that will make the site safe and secure, such as repair site fencing, signs, waste storage or the like.

Can I undertake inspections of sites more than once during the lockdown?

The Public Health Orders permit work to be undertaken to ensure the safety or security of the construction site.

HIA recommends that during the shutdown builders carry out regular inspections (every 3 days) to ensure the safety and security of the site is maintained. In HIA’s discussions with the NSW Government, they did not oppose these ongoing site inspections during the lockdown.

HIA’s information sheet on securing a residential building site provides further guidance.

In undertaking a site inspection I notice some safety or site issues – can I undertake work to fix the issue?

Yes. Urgent work is permitted for the purpose of ensuring the safety and security of the site, to deal with environmental risks (i.e. weather) and to maintain integrity of the building that would otherwise deteriorate.

Can I go to the site to repair damaged doors, windows or locks at an occupied home?

Yes. A person is permitted to visit a place of residence in Greater Sydney if the work is urgently required to ensure the health, safety or security of the place of residence or the members of the household.

The building works in Greater Sydney have reached practical completion – can I hand over the property?

Yes. Compliance with a contractual obligation that would facilitate settlement of the property would be considered a reasonable excuse to leave home. Undertaking a legal obligation is a reasonable excuse to leave home.

Further, a property that has reached practical completion is no longer a ‘construction site’ and so may fall outside of the matters permitted as urgent work during the shutdown.

Can I carry out a contractual progress stage inspection?

This will depend on the circumstances.

If you consider this is a legal obligation that must be fulfilled in order for the works to progress, then you may be able to attend the site for an inspection.

However, given that construction work cannot be carried out, it would seem unreasonable to consider a progress stage inspection necessary given works cannot be undertaken during the shutdown period.

Can a builder allow a building certifier/engineer to enter a site to carry out a critical stage inspection?

Yes. If a mandatory critical stage inspection is required by a building certifier/engineer for work that was undertaken prior to the shutdown it should be carried out in a timely manner.

If a critical stage inspection is required for work that is been undertaken during the lockdown for the purpose of ensuring the safety and security of the site, to deal with environmental risks (i.e. weather) and to maintain the integrity of the building that would otherwise deteriorate, the timely inspection of that work would be considered appropriate