The Premier yesterday outlined the roadmap and plans for easing of restrictions in Victoria.
Following a week of working with Government and putting forward a comprehensive plan for more flexibility in the domestic building industry, the outcome from today represents some steps forward but concerns remain which HIA will work to redress in the weeks ahead.
What has been announced yesterday?
The Premier has announced a strategy and timing for easing of restrictions in Victoria. He has outlined the likely timeframes for various activities to be resumed. It represents a staged recommencement to certain activities.
None of the changes in either metropolitan Melbourne or Regional Victoria will commence until midnight on 13 September. Changes relevant to the operation of the residential building industry will not commence until at least 28 September 2020.
Regional Victoria may continue to be treated differently to Melbourne due to the low number of cases.
Date for restrictions
The critical dates for the restrictions easing are as follows and these will be dependent on the cases at the time:
- First Steps – from midnight 13th September
- Second Step – can start from 28th September but conditional on number of cases
- Third Step – can start after 26 October but conditional on number of cases
- Last Step – can start from 23 November and based around further health milestones.
The Government has outlined key activities associated with small scale construction, large scale construction and land development, that could be approved during each of the four steps.
Key outcomes for domestic building
Contract Signing and Inspections
Under the current restrictions, the Government has confirmed several key areas of our industry will be able to continue during all stages including:
- Manufacturing of building materials as a permitted industry
- Client (or agent) contract meetings including document signing conducted remotely where possible. If not reasonably practicable, on-site meetings permitted by appointment only with physical distancing.
- Final inspections conducted remotely where possible. If not reasonably practicable, on-site meetings permitted by appointment only with physical distancing.
Small scale construction sites
Up to and from 13 September the flexibility announced earlier this week for trades pre-base and post fixing stages will continue, with 5 workers on a site with high risk COVID Safe plans and restrictions in place.
It is expected that from 28 September, specialist contractors will be allowed more flexibility and will be able to attend up to five sites per week with a maximum of two sites per day.
Renovations in client’s homes continue to be restricted for now. Details released today indicate that when the reopening phase commences renovation activities will be permitted at owner occupied sites:
- external to the residential premises, and
- where is it possible to create a physical barrier between workers and occupants and / or the occupier can temporarily vacate the premises for duration of the works.
HIA sees this as a major problem for many of our members and understands the difficulties the current restrictions on renovations are causing. HIA has already made further representations to Government on this point and will continue over the weeks ahead.
As display homes are classed as “open retail” facilities they will not be allowed to open until the relevant reopening stage is reached. HIA has already made further representations on this point and will continue over the weeks ahead.
Landscaping and Gardening Businesses
Gardening landscaping and garden maintenance businesses with an ABN are intended to be added to the permitted worker list and should be allowed to work from 28 September 2020.
The Government will translate today’s announcements into the directions required to give them legal effect. HIA hopes these directions are made well before their commencement to assist members prepare for the changes.
Whilst HIA has pushed for the reopening of displays homes now, it seems the Government will continue to regard them as retail facilities and adopt a very cautious approach, despite their importance to our industry.
Having announced that for now stage 4 will remain in place for an additional two weeks, until 28 September, HIA will continue to call for more flexibility for all areas of the domestic building industry. Our plan to Government includes an easing of restrictions for workers moving between sites and a reopening of renovations activity. It also includes ways to safely reopen display homes and allow for better arrangements for contract signings, colour and material selections, final inspections and other inspections.
HIA will continue to emphasise the significant capacity of the domestic building industry and small scale construction sites to continue operating safely under the current restrictions. We will continue to also pursue sensible changes that will assist members at the earliest possible timeframe in the reopening process.
What about Regional Victoria?
As mentioned Regional Victoria will look different to metropolitan Melbourne at this stage and will be able to continue to operate under current stage 3 restrictions.
Tools to support small scale construction sites
HIA has successfully worked with the Government to include the Making space on site guidelines in the material available for use by our industry to meet existing requirements.
Details of today’s announcement are available online for small scale and large scale construction sites and for early stage land development.
HIA will continue to update members on the status of stage 4 restrictions and all other matters as further information becomes available.