Should you plan to construct a home in pandemic, observe the following pointers

Jagvir Goyal

The second wave of Covid-19 has taken the country by storm. Death, destruction and despair are ruling the cities as new strains and initial vaccine hesitancy have added to the surging wave. Just like last year, many migrant labourers have already started going back to their hometowns. Under such circumstances, a house builder is likely to face many challenges while constructing the house. Here are some suggestions that need to be kept in mind when constructing a house in these tough times:

Arrangements for washing of hands.  ISTOCK  
Thermal screening

Ensure house plan approval

Be prepared for the delay in house plan approval but ensure it before beginning the construction work. Work from home is the new norm and house plan approvals may take more than normal time.

Procurement of material

One fear that constantly haunts the house builder is the likelihood of imposition of lockdowns, which can hamper the supply of construction material to the site. Therefore, the foremost task that needs to be taken care of is getting the estimated material requirement from an estimate provider and planning the supply to the site accordingly. It would be a good idea to tie up with the material suppliers on phone, ordering and stacking basic material like cement, steel, bricks, sand, coarse aggregates, pipes and conduits required in the first two months at the site by making proper arrangement for the storage. Ensure payment to suppliers through RTGS for unhindered supply of material. Plan for further requirement as well.

Water supply and electricity connections

The house builder should ensure provision of water supply and electricity connections to the house site by applying to the departments concerned. Ensure that electricity cables and water supply line to the house site are given enough earth cover to avoid any disruption in them due to the running of traffic on the road in front of house. No disruption in these two services can be allowed, nor expect immediate attending to a problem in these if a problem occurs. Better to ensure that there is a secure and foolproof provision.

Manpower vaccination

Enter a new clause in the agreement with working gang contractors that only those workers shall be hired who have undergone vaccination. Vaccine hesitancy is now over, yet vaccination may take time to reach villages, remote areas and labour class. Therefore, ensuring this agreement may be in writing or verbally will help in non-occurrence of spread of infection at house site.

Thermal screening

To avoid spread of viral infection, the house builder should hire a guard at the entry of house who should do thermal screening of anyone entering the site premises. Anyone having fever shouldn’t be allowed to enter the site.

Labour hutments

An essential requirement in these times will be to create labour hutments for workers engaged at house site. Normally, a house builder doesn’t provide such hutments but to avoid disruption in work during the pandemic, worker availability near the house site will be highly beneficial. Work out a mutual agreement with the labour contractor by sharing the expenditure on hutments. Once the first floor RCC slab is laid, some of workers can move inside the structure and the number of hutments can be reduced.

Hand washing & toilet arrangements

The house builder should resolve to spend extra in providing proper toilet facilities and a hand washing station for the workers. This will ultimately help in avoiding workers from getting infected and spreading the disease.

Wearing of masks & social distancing

Wearing of masks and social distancing is now a regular feature at all construction sites. It needs to travel to individual house sites also. Private builders constructing four-storeyed houses on plots have started following it, though workers are habitual of pulling the mask down once they enter the premises. A house builder should ensure that workers at the site wear masks and are spread out to the extent possible for social distancing.

Follow SOPs issued by the govt

During the pandemic, Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) are issued by the government from time to time. The house builder must go through these as following the SOPs is mandatory.

Woodwork workshop

Once the house plans are ready, the house builder should procure seasoned wood of desired quality and choose a woodwork yard for carpenters to work on it. The yard may be available at carpenters’ premises or a safe space can be hired on rent for it. Let woodwork continue as a parallel activity. Once the walls are erected, the carpenters can visit the site to have actual measurements and assemble door and window frames and shutters accordingly.

Tie up with shuttering team

Scaffolding and shuttering can be in a labour contractor’s scope. Otherwise, tie up with their supplier for timely supply of shuttering plates, pipes, concrete mixer, vibrators and other items on rent when required.

Have patience

Some delays in construction are obvious under these circumstances. Production is down and material supplies too may get delayed due to frequent lockdowns. Have patience to accommodate such delays.

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