March 7, 2020
March 16, 2020


A lot of us have begrudgingly been spending a lot of extra time at home lately. Maybe this at-home stint has given you a chance to binge-watch a new series, catch up on long-lost hobbies, work in the garden, or spend the days participating in other relaxing and enjoyable activities. But for some, this nesting has afforded too much time to grow resentment towards an outdated bathroom, beat-up kitchen counters, damaged flooring, or walls closing in so tight that it’s clear they’re in need of an addition.

And while the desire to renovate and remodel is strong, some homeowners’ concerns about the pandemic are leading them to wonder; “Is it safe to have construction crews at my home?”

The Return Of Construction In Pennsylvania

On March 19 Pennsylvania became the first state in the nation to announce that all construction activity must stop. Most crews were only permitted on jobsites to secure their projects or apply finishing touches, a controversial move intended control the spread of COVID-19.

Beginning May 1 all businesses in the construction industry (new construction, renovation, repair, etc) were permitted to go back to work, but with a long list of procedural updates, and that’s actually great news for homeowners worried about safety.

Residential Construction Updates

Bringing strangers into your home can always feel a little unnerving, even when viral illness isn’t dominant in the news, so it’s no surprise the question of safety is on the minds of some people. But official guidance exists for construction crews that will help reduce your risk and in-turn fears, like:

  • Crews must physical-distance by 6 ft when possible
  • Masks/face coverings to be worn on jobsites
  • Implementation of cleaning and sanitizing, particularly for areas that are at high risk for transmission and limit tool sharing
  • Enact jobsite screening of employees based on CDC guidelines (in short, prohibit employees who exhibit COVID-19 symptoms from working)
  • Prohibit unnecessary visitors to work sites and limit supplier deliveries
  • Interior residential projects must limit operations to four workers on the job site at any time (does not include delivery persons, inspectors, and others who require access but are not directly engaged in construction)

A full list of guidelines and FAQ’s are available to help contractors and homeowners understand the methods intended to slow the spread of COVID-19.

So, Is Now A Good Time For A Home Project?

The answer is likely still yes, but with a few dependencies.

Are you and your contractor comfortable with making as many decisions as possible VIA e-mail, phone, and video chat? This is a great way to reduce the in-person conversations and interactions that you’ll need to have.

Will you have to be in your home while construction is taking place? We rarely hear of homeowners wanting to linger while their home is worked on anyway, but increasing the physical space between you and your contractors is probably wise, whenever possible.
Is your repair/remodel on the exterior of your home? New siding, roof, deck, or even landscaping projects pose little to no risk for homeowners, particularly if design decisions can be made over digital communication (like screen sharing) or video call.

Is your contractor able to take measures to reduce the risk of bringing anything into your home? If it makes you feel more comfortable, ask them about updates to their procedures, adherence to guidelines, or ask if they’ve designated a ‘Pandemic Safety Officer’ (not a requirement for residential projects, but another way to increase accountability).

Are you able to reduce the duration of potential exposure? Unfortunately, you may not have a say when it comes to repair work that needs to get done that could take minutes to hours to days to resolve. But for remodel projects, ask your contractor if there’s a way to consolidate the project without sacrificing on quality. Fair warning: This is going to be a tall order as tasks associated with the new safety guidelines for construction are more likely to cause delays that wouldn’t have previously occurred. Still, looking for ways to limit the number of days someone needs to be in your home can make the situation more appealing.

If you’re wanting some assistance in selecting a contractor for your project, the staff at GR Mitchell can provide options based on your need. As a material supplier we’ve worked with many of the contractors in the region and have developed a feel for their skillset, rapport with homeowners, etc. and can help to build a list for you to consider.

Of course, there’s other factors in play when determining to proceed with home projects (budget, do you plan to sell soon, etc) but being prepared to make the safest decisions for you and your family is an important place to start.