The construction industry is getting ready to pick up its tools and get back to work but only some will be able to pick up exactly where they left off.

Pāpāmoa contractor Todd Duncan spent 48 hours before the lockdown in March shrink-wrapping housing frames, meaning it's full steam ahead for his customers come level 3.

"Like the rest of New Zealand, we had 48 hours to go into lockdown," he said. "We've been in the industry for five years and had built a couple of houses and are painfully aware of the damage that could have taken place in terms of the frames and the trusses when they're in situ."

Shrink wrap has many uses on a construction site such as general safety, dust containment and storage. But now it's got one more.

Advertisement

"We came up with a solution which was to shrink wrap them. Normally we put shrink wrap over scaffolding but this was a last-ditch attempt to preserve the integrity of the projects because at that stage it was scary times with no one knowing how long lockdown was going to be.

"It's got treatments in there which reduce the amount of UV exposure that can come through but most importantly it was keeping the rain off those projects," Duncan said.

The shrink-wrap solution has been recognised by Scaffolding, Access & Rigging NZ Association.

"There will still need to be some checks on the actual scaffolding and rest of the site depending what type of work it is, but for the most part, the idea with the wrapping is that it protects the site," general manager Jessica Pritchard said.

And on Tuesday that's one less thing for builders to worry about.

"With 48 hours' notice we did everything we could to protect the jobs where they were at," said Rik Flowerday, of ZB Homes.

"We wanted to protect them from the elements, the frames and the floors on a multi-storey house. We knew it was a four-week lockdown but it was potentially going to go longer and we wanted to be in the best position to kick things off when we come out of the lockdown."

Carl Charlton, of C3 Construction, says the process means they can start work faster.

Advertisement

"Basically we can cut the wrap off and start working on it immediately without having to go through the moisture-test process. Nine times out of 10 the council would stop you and ask for you to do a treatment test to make sure the treatment isn't compromised."

Even though construction can resume from Tuesday, things will be a little different.

"Some things will continue at the same pace," said Fiona Flowerday, of ZB Homes.

"If it's just a builder or a couple of builders on site they will carry on pretty much the same as normal, but where you're bringing other trades into the site, there will definitely be a slowdown.

Also, with deliveries coming on site we need to have two delivery drivers. We can't help the delivery person, so that will probably slow down deliveries. There may be supply-chain issues as well, that we don't really know yet with processing materials. It will definitely be slower."

Covid19.govt.nz: The Government's official Covid-19 advisory website

Flowerday says a number of new systems have been rolled out to stop any potential spread of Covid-19.

"We've had to put a control plan in place that is quite detailed, which we've sent out to all of our suppliers and contractors, which they all need to adhere to on our site because we're essentially in charge of our sites. Things like distancing ... there needs to be minimum or no contact with people on site, normally only one trade on site now. There's lots of contact-tracing information required so when you enter and leave the site we need to know where you've been, where you're going."

And they'll be monitoring things closely at C3 Construction.

"I've got two site managers walking round policing, speaking to the foreman to make sure they keep in touch with it. If it's an electrician fitting things off, they need to wipe everything down before they leave. Kitchen installers … they've got to wipe everything down as well."

For all the effort, the changes are embraced by the industry.

"The construction industry has been given a great opportunity to get back to work ahead of a lot of other industries," Flowerday said.

"But with that comes a huge responsibility to keep the site safe and make sure that everyone is vigilant and keeping to the rules. From everyone I've spoken to in the industry, there's a real feeling of making sure we need to get this right. We need to be really careful and make sure everyone stays safe."

Made with funding from