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How Construction is Responding to COVID-19

Evan Maindonald is CEO of MELT Property and has over 25 years of experience in Property Development and Investment. Here Mr Maindonald gives his opinion on how the UK Construction Industry is responding to the Coronavirus pandemic.

Covid-19 has forced the construction industry to examine closely how it conducts business. As a result of coronavirus, construction was left in lockdown limbo, with ambiguous and unclear advice on what was or was not safe. At the coal face, on site, this caused a difficult situation with main contractors, sub-contractors, and individual operatives having to make decisions as to what was or was not safe.

Some of these decisions led to courses of action being taken that were potentially in breach of contract. For example, a small builder shutting down a domestic site would be in breach of contract for abandoning the site. Similarly, a main contractor shutting down a large site could face ‘extension of time’ claims from subcontractors. The circumstances of the last few months were without precedent and will probably lead to a review of construction contract law.

Thankfully, many companies choose to work together to find solutions and many sites returned to work with new social distancing protocols in place. On our sites, we have made masks mandatory for all workers and have introduced a limit of not more than one person working on each floor of any property.

One of the unforeseen benefits for the industry has been the acceleration of the adoption of new technology throughout the industry. Public engagement exhibitions for planning applications have been held virtually. This has proven that, in some senses, they are more effective in this setting than their traditional counterpart. Developers, estate agents and architects have adopted the use of virtual reality to showcase their design. The proliferation of CGI video technology- developed originally for gaming software – has meant that hyper realistic, interactive walkthroughs are now an important part of the toolkit.

However the full impact of Covid-19 on the construction industry is yet to be felt. How many SME contractors have paid too great a financial cost to keep going? The furlough scheme would not have been of benefit to many contracting companies, as the majority of their staff will have been self-employed. This does beg the question as to whether or not there will be sufficient viable contractors to supply the construction industry once this crisis has abated.

Evan Maindonald Bio

Evan Maindonald has over 25 years of experience in Property Development and Investment.

In the last 18 years, his company MELT Property has built over 100 properties in London, Gloucestershire and Kent with total end values of over £22m. Evan has a degree in Computer Science and an MBA from IMD in Lausanne. He regularly presents at property events around the UK, appears on a number of different programmes on Property TV and is currently writing a book about how to get started in property development.

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