Lockdown measures to fight the spread of coronavirus are being eased over the coming months. But what if you need a tradesperson or engineer to enter your home?
Where does it leave you if you're about to have work done on your home, you're halfway through a renovation or you're faced with an emergency such as a boiler breakdown?
We talk you through the points you should consider and how you can protect your household.
Article first published: 23 March 2020. Last updated: 15 May 2020
This means limiting face-to-face contact with people who aren't in your household and maintaining a two-metre distance between one another. And in the limited situations where this isn't possible you need to use non-medical grade PPE.
The government is advising that you should wear a face-covering in enclosed spaces where social distancing is not always possible and you come into contact with others you do not normally meet, for example if a tradesperson is required to enter your home.
The most important question to ask yourself is, is the work essential or can it wait? The best way to limit the risk is to postpone the work if it is non-essential.
No work can be carried out by any tradesperson or engineer who has coronavirus symptoms, however mild.
As a first step, find out whether your trader or engineer can offer some services from a distance, either by speaking to you over the phone or using technology. Some of the we've been speaking to reported that they were using tools such as FaceTime, Google Hangouts and Skype to provide quotes or site visits.
But if a trader or engineer needs to visit your home, there are steps you can take to protect yourself and avoid spreading the virus. You should:
People who are over 70, pregnant or who have underlying health conditions are most at risk, so you'll need to be particularly careful if anyone in your household fits these criteria.
The government has stated that no work can be carried out in any household which is isolating or where an individual is being shielded, unless it is to remedy a direct risk to the safety of the household, such as emergency plumbing or repairs, and where the tradesperson is willing to do so.
If you do need to let a trader or engineer in, let them know in advance about any vulnerable people in your home so they can take appropriate measures.
You may also need to further isolate more vulnerable people in your home. For example, they may need to stay in a different room, separated from the rest of the household, while work is underway.
If the work has to go ahead, you must warn any traders or engineers who are due to visit so that they can assess the risks and carry out the work safely if they do come to your home.
It's not just you who needs to take steps to avoid spreading COVID-19. Your trader or engineer is responsible for health and safety when working on site.
Before their visit, find out what measures they will be taking to protect you and themselves. Larger companies will probably have a statement online setting out what steps they are taking. You may need to contact smaller companies for more information.
Some of the key things you should look out for are:
If you don't feel your trader or engineer is taking appropriate measures, particularly if you have sick or vulnerable people in your household, you may need to refuse entry to your home.
If you have a project booked in the next few months that hasn't started yet, consider:
Talk to your trader, engineer or utility company as soon as possible about how you want to proceed. Even if your contract doesn't seem to allow flexibility, there's likely to be more scope to negotiate and come to a compromise in the current circumstances.
If you plan to go ahead, check whether the trader is willing and able to do the work. Discuss what will happen if one of you becomes ill before the project start date, or if stricter social distancing measures are introduced.
The key things to consider and do if your project is already in progress are:
Bear in mind that you may have to be more flexible about the schedule for the project if it continues. Traders working on your project may become ill, need to self-isolate or may have to work around childcare responsibilities now the schools are closed. Delays won't necessarily entitle you to cancel the contract.
If you decide to cancel for any reason, find out whether you would incur any financial penalties.
If your trader decides not to finish the project, you may have the right to cancel without penalty, depending on the circumstances and the terms of your contract.
Good communication with your trader will be key to managing the situation. Approach any discussions calmly and try to work out a compromise.