We are now into the eighth week of the COVID-19 lock-down and the Government is trying to re-start the economy with manufacturing and construction as their focus. This should have a positive impact on my work and help you get your building project started or up and running again.
Already this week I have been contacted by a number of existing ‘on-hold’ clients and some new enquiries, asking me if “I am able to start architectural work again?” I.e. please can I come to their flat/house to talk through and progress their architectural wishes.
With the release this week of government guidance I have been pleased to advise them that subject to it being safe I can provide them architectural services, and visit them in their home.
The Government’s Guidance
I am not aware of any specific architectural guidance for architects providing design services to homeowners who want to carry out conversions, extensions, or alterations to their property.
There are a couple of relevant Government guides that came out this week
• Advice on home moving during Covid-19
• Working safely during Covid-19 in other people’s homes
I used these to draft up my own risk assessment to go through with existing and potential clients where I need to visit their property to progress their project. In this way I can now open up the services I provide to clients.
My Risk Assessment
The aim of my risk assessment is to manage the risk to all parties when I visit their property, and to minimise (ideally, eliminate) the danger of Covid-19 cross-infection.
My risk assessment is carried out over the phone. During the phone discussion we will;
• Establish if it is safe for me to go to their property
• Determine what we both need to do to manage and minimise the risk
• Agree on the actions both parties need to take to achieve this
How do we manage the risk?
There are a number of key actions to reducing the risk including;
• Social distancing, keep 2m distance from one another at all time if possible
• Basic hygiene including, hand washing on arrival, and use of sanitizer
• Person protection equipment (PPE) as necessary (gloves, face covering)
• Having as few occupants in the property as possible
From a risk perspective, it would be best for all the occupiers to be out whilst I am visiting. However, this potentially looses one of the key elements of a visit, the architect client interface. This is the best opportunity for the critical discussion with the client about their wishes and how realistic they are.
Is it safe for me to visit you home?
• Am I well?
• Am I showing any symptoms of Covid-19 (however mild)?
The health of all the occupants in the property.
• Are they all well?
• Are any of them showing any Covid-19 symptoms (again however mild)?
• Are there any occupants in the property isolating, shielding, or vulnerable?
• I cannot visit a property with a vulnerable occupant unless they can go out for the duration of my visit (if this is even possible?)
If together we can agree there is no or minimal risk then a visit can be arranged
The Property Visit
Agree appointment date & time and time required to carry out the visit
Who will be there?
Which rooms or parts of the property will I need to inspect?
Agree on hygiene processes;
I will wash my hands for 20 seconds on arrival; providing my own towels and dispose of them after use
Prior to my arrival, the occupiers will open all internal doors/partitions/loft hatches to avoid or minimise any contact I have with the fabric of the building
Both parties will seek to maintain 2m social distancing for the full duration of the visit (Accepting we are all human and it is easy to forget to do this all the time!)
I will wear a face mask (non-surgical) if we think we cannot achieve the 2m social distancing or if the client requires it
The Architect client interface – project discussion
Really useful to walk around the property with the client discussing one’s thoughts and if I am doing a full measured survey always good to talk through observations.
As part of minimising the risk, we need to try to keep any face to face discussion to a minimum, and where possible discuss the details of the project over the phone or via Zoom.
The Covid-19 rules & guidelines are there to protect us all from what can be a pretty nasty, and sometimes fatal, infection. However, life has to go on and property owners want to progress their architectural projects.
The Government has given us the green light to get back to work, provided we do it safely. If we; use our common sense, minimise the risks, and work within the safety framework that is there to protect us all there is no reason why you cannot get your architectural project back on track.
For details of my other blogs please check out my website: https://www.mccurdyarchitecture.co.uk/news/
Please note this is a guide and is not a definitive source of technical and/or legal information.
MM – COVID-19, Getting your architectural project back on track – V3 published – 15 05 2020