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Getting a tradesperson in during a pandemic

What is now allowed within guidelines and how do you decide whether to go ahead with non-urgent work?

The global covid-19 pandemic has ground a sudden halt to almost everything over the last 3 months. Since March, most of us have gone into ‘batten down the hatches’ mode with many people not even being able to work, never mind get on with home improvement projects, unless it was something that could be done without needing any specialist help.

However, lockdown guidelines are now relaxing and while many restrictions still apply, activities that have previously been off limits are becoming possible again. Especially from this weekend when pubs, restaurants, hair salons and visitor attractions are being allowed to open for the first time since lockdown was imposed in March, and non-essential shops are already open again.

So, what does this mean for tradespeople?

At the start of lockdown, when very strict measures were in place, this was very simple to understand: tradespeople could only come into homes to attend to emergency issues. For us, as a plumbing and heating company, this meant that we would only attend for boiler breakdowns, floods, leaks, broken toilets and issues affecting water supply. After a few weeks, we also re-introduced boiler servicing, due to its importance in keeping people safe and prevention of future problems. While very restrictive, these guidelines are very easy to understand. It becomes more complex, and a matter of personal judgement, when guidelines start to relax, as they are doing now.

The fact that tradespeople have been working throughout this pandemic, actually puts them in an advantageous position: coronavirus protocols are now second nature. Having implemented safe working practices for 3 months now, they are well practiced on the issues of social distancing, use of PPE and maintaining clean working spaces. It’s tried and tested and it works.

Many tradespeople have relaxed their guidelines on the nature of the jobs they will attend, in line with the general relaxation of lockdown guidelines. At Plumbcare.com, we will now attend for all types of plumbing and heating job. That means you can book an appointment for anything from a boiler breakdown to installing a new shower or drainage system.

The perception of essential

From the beginning, we have been guided by the notion of what is essential. If you only have one toilet and it can’t be used, that is essential. If your boiler has broken and you have no hot water or heating, that is essential. Now many are revising what they think of as ‘essential’. A dripping tap may not be urgent, but it’s annoying, it’s wasting water and it could get worse. A stop tap that is difficult to turn and in an awkward place, isn’t urgent but it could be a problem in the event of a leak.

Lockdown restrictions forced providers to distinguish between urgent and essential. A dripping tap, a stiff stop tap or an intermittent boiler fault may not be urgent now, but it is essential that they be resolved before they become a bigger issue. There may be other things that you have had to put on hold that haven’t been urgent but have prevented you moving forward with things: having to wait to decorate the bathroom until a shower is installed or putting off completing building works until the drainage system has been upgraded etc.

These things may not have been justified during the early stages of lockdown but now that they can go ahead, you have to consider both the practical and the psychological impact of not being able to get on with things that are important to you.

Confidence in relaxing lockdown conditions

We fully appreciate that, after so long sticking to very prescriptive lockdown regulations, it can be a scary prospect when things change. Some will want to dash to the pub as soon as it opens, others will be quite nervous and worried that we’re moving too fast. The same principle applies to inviting tradespeople into your home for non-urgent work. For some, especially those who have been shielding, being able to exercise your own judgement, rather than abide by a very black and white set of rules, is daunting. Therefore, maybe it’s useful to ask yourself the following questions:

  • Is it safe?
  • Is it within the spirit of the guidelines?
  • What covid-19 working practices are still in place with this provider?
  • How effective have their practices been to date?
  • It may not be urgent but is it essential?
  • Does the work potentially prevent a future issue?
  • Does not having the work done hold back other jobs?
  • What are the consequences of not having the work done?
  • What are the benefits that having the job done will bring?
  • How does this job impact other projects?
  • How busy will tradespeople be now that restrictions have relaxed?

All concerns in these unprecedented times are valid. Speaking for ourselves, while the range of services offered has expanded, the protocols we have been working to throughout lockdown remain in place, and we have no plans to change them any time soon. (We have had no cases of Covid-19 among engineers to date so we know our protocols are working).

Ultimately, it’s your choice and only you can weigh up the pros and cons according to your personal circumstances. If you are ready to start dealing with non-urgent tasks or even proactive home improvement projects, and you put your faith in us to carry them out safely and responsibly, we take that faith very seriously and will do everything we can to make it as safe as it possibly can be; just as we have been doing since March.

If you would like to book an engineer, you can call us on 0800 032 6478. Our phone lines are very busy so if it’s not urgent it may be easier to email us on [email protected] or complete the online form on this page.

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