Covid-19: What Should Contractors Be Doing?
Danny Frost – Managing Director, Quantity Surveying Services.
The guidelines and restrictions imposed to limit the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic have already seen the construction industry face a number of complications. Progress and productivity have been affected by labour attendance, travel restrictions and material deliveries, which have experienced delays or been prevented altogether since the forced closure of many merchants/suppliers. We expect that this will cause considerable delays to a number of your contracts and we recommend for any notices of delay/loss to be issued sooner rather than later, if this hasn’t happened already.
To recover any entitlements for both time and money and to protect yourselves from claims from Employers, you need to have issued the appropriate Notices that comply with the contract you are working under. Therefore, you should both consider and undertake the following as a minimum:
- Issue compliant notices in a timely manner and as the contract dictates.
- Update these notices as the situation becomes clearer.
- Check for contract amendments, in particular definitions of force majeure, and for condition precedence to entitlements.
- Establish the status of the work undertaken at the point of impact, ideally in the form of a survey.
- Establish the actions you have taken to demonstrate best endeavours to mitigate the situation. This will include engaging with your supply chain to understand how they may be affected, finding out what can be done to mitigate and then obtaining such evidence in support of demonstrating these measures.
- Maintain detailed records of resources on site and, where possible, record where and how works have been affected.
- Confirm all instructions and directions you receive in writing.
- Safely store all applicable correspondence.
- Consider the directions and instructions you need to give to your subcontractors.
- Check with your insurers to determine if you have business interruption cover.
Each project will have different circumstances to take into consideration and there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution. However, with a full lock down looming and further restrictions inevitable, doing nothing is not an option. Taking the appropriate action at the earliest stage is of the utmost importance.