The coronavirus pandemic has had a devastating effect on the construction industry, and it will be a long road to recovery for the sector. On-site activity ceased almost overnight on Monday 23 March when the UK Prime Minister announced a national lockdown to attempt to contain the spread of the virus. Since then, building contractors, consultants and other organisations have grappled with cash flow issues, employee furloughs and record absence due to sickness or self-isolation.
However, when customers and clients required emergency assistance, and where deemed essential and safe to do so, contractors and surveyors continued to work, putting customers first and assisting others in whatever way they could. This was not without cost; ONS statistics released on 11 May revealed that the construction industry had fared worse than many others in the UK, with a rate of 25.9 deaths per 100,000 working-age males among what was classed as “low-skilled” construction workers.
Safe working practices are crucial to protect as many people as possible. As a result of the need to implement on-site social distancing, many contractors are citing higher than normal costs. Extra personal protective equipment (PPE), transportation costs and supervisory costs are just a handful of many examples. In addition, plant and materials have become more difficult to obtain. In particular plaster/plasterboard, aggregates and bricks have been in short supply. Many suppliers have now re-opened their manufacturing and distribution facilities; however, there will be a lag before availability returns to normal.
Crawford is responding to these significant challenges by adapting and enhancing our services. Crawford Building Consultancy successfully rolled out a desktop assessment service with an emphasis on top quality, promptly – delivering over 97% of all reports within three days, whilst receiving consistently positive feedback about the quality and value of the reports. Contractor Connection expanded their national decontamination service, assisting businesses and communities in safely continuing operations or returning to their premises following the actual or suspected presence of COVID-19.
On Wednesday 13 May, the UK Prime Minister made a further announcement highlighting construction as an industry that should ‘return to work’. In response, Crawford Building Consultancy has resumed its full project management service subject to complying with safety guidelines, albeit still utilising a remote solution where possible. Contractor Connection has liaised closely with network members to help ensure contractor coverage is available in all areas and that all assignments can be fulfilled ensuring the wellbeing of our most vulnerable customers.
All of us have been affected by the coronavirus in some way, and our thoughts are especially with all of those who have suffered from the disease or lost loved ones as a result, as well as our own team members, many of whom have adapted to changes in the way we’ve worked.
We continue to work together to fulfil our mission of restoring and enhancing lives, businesses and communities for our clients and their customers in a safe and vigilant manner.
John Humphries – Field Operations Manager, Crawford Building Consultancy
Tony Derbyshire – Network Director, Crawford Contractor Connection