What the new COVID-19 restrictions mean for the building industry

In the wake of recent announcements by the Victorian Government, changes to the building industry will come into effect from 11:59pm on 27 October 2020. It is essential that all builders, owners and developers are aware of their new rights and obligations.

Important changes:

The building and construction industry has been removed from the “high-risk” industry list. This means that businesses will only require a COVIDSafe Plan and will no longer need a High Risk COVIDSafe Plan.  

There are also the following changes:

  • Worker number limits removed meaning there is no more 5-worker limit per site;
  • Restrictions on movement for workers and specialist contractors between multiple sites are no longer in place; and
  • Pre-contract works on occupied homes i.e. surveying or quoting can now take place. (It is important to note that owners and contractors must use their best measures to create a physical barrier between workers and occupants).

For homeowners across Melbourne, renovations of occupied homes are now able to commence. In addition to allowing renovations, further changes allow for:

  • Outdoor non-essential home maintenance and repairs (e.g. painting, electrical etc);
  • Outdoor pool and spa maintenance/cleaning for private residences and other outdoor cleaning; and
  • Solar power installers are able to continue work.

Extensions of Time

Existing Contracts:

Builders that have delays from COVID-19 restrictions may be able to claim an Extension of Time (EOT) under current contracts.

An EOT allows extra time to complete building projects as necessary if the cause of the delay is beyond the builder’s reasonable control. The pandemic qualifies as being beyond reasonable control which may allow for a valid EOT.

It is important for builders who entered into building contracts before COVID-19 restrictions came into effect in March 2020 to act immediately to claim any EOT requests for any delays to their construction project.

For more information on dealing with Cost Escalation caused by COVID-19 read our previous article here.


New contracts entered into post COVID-19:

Before entering into new contracts, it is imperative that builders carefully consider the effects of COVID-19 and subsequently estimate their time accordingly. It may be necessary to allow for more conservative timelines to ensure a builder’s performance is not impacted by the current restrictions in place.

For anyone entering into contracts after the advent of COVID-19,it is necessary to allow for delays in the construction period timeline due to labour/material shortage and to draft special conditions covering circumstances in which restrictions are enforced.  

At Oldham Construction Lawyers, we have drafted special conditions to deal specifically with the delays and cost escalation caused by the pandemic.

Our Services:

If you are unsure of your obligations and what restrictions apply to you, or need assistance on preparing relevant special conditions, please do not hesitate to call Daniel Oldham on (03) 9640 0002, or via email info@oclawyers.com.au

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