Builders going into houses for jobs such as loft conversions will effectively have to seal themselves off from the people living there in a “workers-only zone” to minimise the risk of infection after the lockdown is eased.
Building firms expect a surge in work once they are given the all-clear to start operating again, not least from clients who have been working from home from the kitchen table and want to create a permanent office space.
Guidelines drawn up by the Federation of Master Builders, which represents about 8,000 firms, show that the days of homeowners taking up mugs of tea for people working on their property are over.
Brian Berry, chief executive of the federation, said: “Our advice is all about minimising contact so sharing mugs is really not a good idea.”
He added that builders would have stay on a different floor to the occupants of the house and use different bathroom facilities.
Where that is not possible a portable toilet would have to be installed to maintain as high a level of separation as possible.
If the work cannot be carried out on a separate floor the guidelines suggest “residents should stay in a different room with the door closed”.
Builders will also be responsible for bringing their own soap, paper towels and hand sanitiser, as well as PPE equipment such as gloves and masks.
If any areas in the house do need to be shared the guidelines say “they should be cleaned regularly at least twice a day. Examples of items that should be regularly disinfected are door handles, ladders, taps, and toilets”.
Mr Berry said builders and clients should have an open and frank discussion before work starts about any extra costs that the measures might involve.
Workers will be told the observe the two-metre safe distance rule wherever possible, while accepting that this might be practical where two people are needed to carry a heavy object.
Breaks will have to be taken alone with workers sitting in their own car or van. Tools should not be shared.
Each job will involve appointing a nominated “coronavirus co-ordinator” responsible for keeping records of who is on the site, any reports of illness or breaches of the guidelines.
Neil Ogilvie, chief executive of the Painting and Decorating Federation, said contact could be reduced by quotes being drawn up following Zoom or WhatsApp calls.