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We are currently under Covid-19 lockdown in South Africa, which has the effect that no contracted-in home improvement and renovation projects are underway because these services are not deemed essential services. No renovation contractors are therefore currently on sites in South Africa. However, the virus and infection will not magically disappear during the lockdown, and we in the industry will have to start thinking about how we will conduct ourselves once we are able to work. At Smarten Renovate, we believe that social distancing will be one of the key factors in the near future and this is what we think we should start thinking about:

1. Minimise client contact. For the experienced and competent renovation contractor, this should not be too difficult. Most project management tasks can be conducted electronically or with virtual contact. Think estimation, project planning, reporting, and so on.
2. Isolate work areas. In many cases, isolating the work area is attainable. Kitchens, bathrooms and individual bedrooms can often be physically ring-fenced be cut off from other areas in the property, thereby minimising the foot traffic and human interaction.
3. Limit on-site presence. This may be more difficult to do and will probably entail extensive planning. Renovation contractors may have to mobilise their office-based support to the maximum and keep their on-site workers to the minimum, working more efficiently to ensure that projects are still completed on time, in budget and within scope.
4. Focus on low-risk areas. Exterior work will present fewer opportunities for human interaction and will probably be the focus of many renovation contractors. Projects such as roof construction, maintenance and upgrades, exterior painting, paving, and so on will probably have to e prioritised.
5. Never compromise on precautions. Although the focus will be on social distancing as far as possible, many renovation projects by their very nature are intrusive, leading to unavoidable social contact. Here, the renovation contractor will have to have a no-nonsense approach to precautionary measures such as sanitizing persons and surfaces, washing hands, wearing masks and the like.

This is an extraordinary time, and extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures. The next months will demand much smart and alternative thinking. This will go a long way in mitigating the effects of what may well be the most devastating social and economic disaster of our generation.