Contractors practicing safety while remodeling homes amid the spread of coronavirus

Posted at 7:28 PM, Jun 18, 2020

For those fortunate to work from home during the COVID-19 pandemic, many are finding they now have more time to commit to home construction projects large and small and everything from retiling a bathroom to a large home renovation.

"In many communities in the home space itself, what we’ve seen is after that initial decline and slowdown where many of these businesses were struggling, a pretty pronounced uptick now in the level of business coming through," said Nate Chai of Thumbtack. Thumbtack is an app that helps people connect with contractors and other service providers.

Chai says more people are in their homes spending more time looking around at the projects they want --or need -- to get done.

"Pretty much everywhere we’re just using our homes more often. Things break down. That annoying leak becomes something that has to be addressed urgently," says Chai.

Thumbtack has guidance for both homeowners and contractors on how to get their projects done safely during the COVID-19 pandemic. Chai encourages people to have open conversations with contractors about who the project will be completed in a safe, socially distant manner.

"Things like are you wearing a mask, are you bringing a crew and if so what will that crew be doing? Where will they be? Are you going to clean and sanitize the space afterwards? So those questions are really important to get squared away from both parties up front," said Chai.

And for contractors, showing your clients first and foremost that you value their safety.

"We have professionals who, for example, have changed their profile pictures to show themselves in a mask. So, that adds that extra layer of security and awareness and understanding from the start, to proactively bring up their safety measures," said Chai.

Fillip and Jamie Hord, founders of Horderly, which is a professional organizing company, are currently in the middle of a home renovation project. They have some advice for how people can safely prepare their homes for construction during a pandemic.

"We actually recommended the contractors put up the plastic sheets sectioning off the room and then they can do zippers on those. That was [our] first request and Jamie has been wiping down the door handles before they come and when they leave," said Fillip Hord, who is also Chief Organizing Officer of MakeSpace.

The couple also recommends decluttering and clearing out the space you want worked on, requesting contractors wear masks, stay six feet apart and wash their hands frequently. But also be prepared for your home project to take longer than expected.

"Instead of having 14 different contractors and three different trades in your house at one time, you're going to have the carpenter one day. The next day maybe one electrician. The next day maybe a plumber and then the plumber has to wait for the electrician to come back," said Fillip Hord.

Still, they say getting the projects done right now has its benefits.

"Now is the perfect time to take time to get to those projects you’ve been wanting to get to for a while in your home. There’s really no better time," said Jamie Hord.

"From what we saw at the start of the pandemic is people sort of hunkered down. There was quite a drop in the number of projects coming through our platform but in more recent weeks, what we’ve seen is it actually accelerating pretty fast," said Chai.

In fact, at the end of March, Thumbtack says home renovation projects were down 40 to 50%. Now, they're back up to normal levels.