The impact of the Coronavirus pandemic has been felt across the whole industry, from the biggest principle contractors to the smallest. When lockdown first came in, many construction businesses were faced with unexpected shutdowns, temporary and permanent, and one would imagine the adverse impact this had on their finances. To make money on a contract, building and construction businesses must be able to finish their project in time and also have a good budget plan. This however has not been the case due to the new Covid-19 protocols and measures put in place to control the spread of the disease. These new rules are for the wellbeing of every individual, however this poses a number of negative effects on the building and construction industry. A shutdown stops businesses from earning revenue but the business may still have pre-existing overheads to account for. Everyone in the country is encouraged to practice safe social distancing in the home and in the work environment and some construction businesses may be forced to drastically reduce the number of operatives on site which may lead to unwanted redundancies, delayed completion of projects, and increase in expenses. In addition to this, businesses will be required to provide employees with face masks, hand sanitizer, and thermometers at entry points as a way of trying to prevent the spread of Covid-19. Unfortunately some clients are not so understanding and may enforce penalties on building and construction companies for delayed projects as opposed to extending the planned duration for the projects. This leaves business owners asking themselves if they will be able pay off all expenses and still be able make money on the projects. With the possibility of economic recession, the government may create difficult conditions for construction companies by making little to no investments in public projects like schools and hospitals.
Despite the various misfortunes that came as a result of Covid-19, all hope should not be lost as there are some solutions to the problems that were encountered. First and foremost owners of the construction should figure out how to make the site safe. It is possible to have different contractors, companies and workers all on site at the same time and for this reason owners of companies must make the safety of every individual their top priority as it plays a vital role on how efficiently their project is carried out. One way of doing this is having a She-officer at arms-length to provide guidance where needed. Provision of training workshops for staff where they are taught everything they need to know about Covid-19 and all precautions that they need to take will be beneficial, though it may be an additional expense in the short-run it will definitely prove beneficial in the long-run as there would be a decrease in inadequacies that may affect the running of the project. Everyone on site must wear their face masks and adhere to social distancing rules, which is to avoid grouping up unnecessarily and also make sure they do not exceed the number of persons allowed to be in one area at the same time. The site must be fitted with sanitisation stations and sinks where individuals can wash their hands, this is because the building and construction industry mainly consists of hands on activities and this involves touching many surfaces. Washing hands and sanitising regularly will help prevent spread of Covid-19. Temperature checks are a must, everyone going on site, whether employee or visitor must have their temperature checked before they can be allowed to enter the site. In the case of having to deal with difficult clients who may not want to cooperate when unfortunate events arise due to Covid-19, a contingency plan can be added to the contract that would protect the building and construction companies from not being able to make revenue from the project. The contingency plan would also include where the construction companies and clients stand contractually should any unforeseen events occur. Some companies may have specialised in sectors that were badly affected by Covid-19, and now would be the right time to reassess their niche and source out potential future revenue streams by looking for new sectors in the industry and trying to diversify as a business [Thorpe M, June 23, 2020]. Business owners should take into account the fact that delivery warehouses and logistics will be needed as there has been a rise in online shopping and home deliveries. Having warehouse space would help the business to meet the vastly growing market. There has been a surge in the use of technology and logistic centres would put construction businesses at an advantage with regards to marketing and sales the sooner they get a foothold in the market.
Written By: Tsholofelo Taboka Tabona