The coronavirus has disrupted the routines of many industries. While construction is considered an “essential” service, and industry by the majority of states in the US, some regions have put a halt on construction as the pandemic became rampant. Many cities in California have opted to allow construction of certain structures and facilities.
If you have a vested interest in building and construction, you will need to research the regulations in your area. And if there is a new or ongoing dispute that needs to be addressed with an attorney, you can contact a local construction attorney for your legal needs.
The Impact of COVID-19 Pandemic on Construction Projects Across U.S. States
As the COVID-19 Pandemic continues to unleash its reign of terror, its overall impact on construction businesses may evolve greatly over the course of the remaining half of the year. Judging from recent developments in European countries and China, construction businesses in the USA may also witness similar disruptions to supply chain distributions, shortage of labor, and nation-wide lock-down of construction facilities.
In America, the coronavirus effect on construction activities varies from state to state. Despite guidelines issued by the federal government concerning what constitutes an essential infrastructure service, some states and local authorities have taken entrenched positions on the matter, calling for a total shut-down of construction projects.
For example, initially, the state of New York excluded construction from the list of government-restricted services. But in late March 2020, New York revised its restrictions to cover virtually all types of construction projects apart from roads, health facilities, and other projects.
California didn’t categorically issue any shut-down orders targeting construction projects. With that being said, California adopted some federal guidelines to limit the number of ongoing construction activities on housing, and maintenance procedures, among other areas. However, all workers in the essential construction services list are encouraged to observe social-distancing and other COVID-19 protocols while on site.
In Boston, Massachusetts, all construction projects were initially grounded until the governor stepped in and reopened the state for all construction projects, citing them as essential services while making provisions for construction workers to obey the coronavirus protocols. The Massachusetts governor later revoked that statement and restricted the construction of offices and hotels from the list of essential services.
All in all, the coronavirus impact on construction projects will change with time, depending on the intensity of the caseloads in various states in the USA.
Measures Construction Workers Should Take Against the COVID-19 Impact
Whether your construction service is partially or totally shut down by the pandemic, developers can take the following actions to tackle the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on their construction projects.
To make sure you are within your legal rights with all the changes;
1. Look at your Contract
You will be able to find any provisions that are implicated by your local circumstances. The owner of the project can contact construction attorneys to examine the restrictions put in place by state authorities. This will ensure that your contract does not lead to legal actions.
2. Talk with your Contractor
You need to know how the coronavirus is going to impact the construction and what you can do to mitigate the project setbacks. Also, check with the project management team to make sure that they are taking the necessary health precautions and sanitation measures for the site. The contractor will also need to submit a claim of the setback within 21 days of the event if the work is delayed for more than 30 days.
3. Consider Project Termination Possibilities
The chain of circumstances that may necessitate the suspension or continuation of the project may lie in the hands of the owner. Approach each unique option with careful consideration. But the contractor is allowed to terminate the contract—in the case of a national emergency. In the unlucky event of a project suspension, the owner of the property may be liable for the inconvenience caused. They may end up bearing the losses incurred by the contractor, such as payments already made for construction materials as well as termination fees.
4. Consider Contractor Claims
The coronavirus effect will likely take a dangerous toll on project owners since contractors may be seeking claims for delay damages, and the need for time extensions. However, in some cases, project delays attributable to the pandemic can be regarded as excusable, since the COVID-19 events are beyond the control of both the owner and the contractor. When signing contracts for construction projects during the pandemic, both parties may want to ensure that there are clauses to protect them against claims.
In summary, you need to document as much as possible, in case you get involved in a court case. You will want to document all that you can in terms of when documents arrived, and the agreements and statements that were made. In case a legal dispute arises, you can contact a construction attorney and the documents you provide can help him to defend you in the law courts.