It might seem a strange thing to say given the current climate, but 2020 might be the best time ever to build or take the plunge and start your knock-down/rebuild.
As the world struggles to come to grips with the COVID-19 virus, builders and sub-contractors may be concerned about work slowing down. But, as history has shown us, the best time to act, is often when everyone else is retreating.
The building industry is leading our economy through the challenges our country is facing and the Government is committed to supporting our industry in the safest way possible. Land prices are certainly not increasing at present. It is a buyer’s market. Further, the builders and trades that are still working are the absolute cream of the crop and they are working harder than ever before. This is your chance to use this opportunity to, not only build your dream home, but to assist with rebuilding our country’s economy, while taking advantage of the First Home Owners Grant/s, the Home Builder Grant and the Stamp Duty Concessions (where applicable). More information about the Home Builder Grant is here. But basically, if your house and land is valued as less than $750,000 and you meet the other eligibility requirements, you could receive $25,000 through the Home Builder Grant and if you are a first home owner, then the First Home Owner Grants are on top of that! So if you are building in regional Victoria and you are a first home owner, you could receive up to $70,000 in government grants toward your new home!
Our industry is already feeling the effects of workforce disruptions and changes in both the global and domestic supply chains, which are likely to continue as a result of this unprecedented event. We are uncertain if this means that material and supply prices will increase in future, so again, now is a great time to lock in a fixed cost, before this happens. So, if you have been sitting on the fence about buying land and building your dream home or plunging into your knock-down/rebuild, now is an amazing time to do so. This is your opportunity to have your dream home built at potentially less than you would be paying in 6 months’ time. But you obviously need to act now in order to have time to get your designs completed and lock in your pricing as soon as possible.
But what about the risk of infection?
I understand that people are concerned about the risk of infection, but rest assured, we are taking this pandemic very seriously and are acting at every step on the best health advice available. While construction sites do not attract the same restrictions that apply to other activities, this can only continue as long as we work together to implement safe work practices at all our sites to reduce the risk of Coronavirus. Accordingly, we are following the Governments’ guidelines and strictly working in line with the ever-changing Stage 4 restrictions and have strict policies and procedures in place to ensure we can continue building homes to an elite quality in a safe and diligent way. We have enacted a Universal Covid Safe Plan and we have issued Permitted Worker Permits.
We do not have any homes or displays available for inspection, however, we do have several photos of our homes in the albums section of our photos on our Facebook page and virtual tours of many of our homes, available by request as we are currently updating this section of our website. We also update our project progress on our Instagram.
We are still working on site and conducting business as usual, except with many adjustments which will be strictly enforced. We have adapted to this new way of conducting business with meetings only being undertaken online via video conferencing and Building Contracts now executed electronically only. We are able to meet with our customers on site where vital (i.e. final inspections or handover) following the Government’s strict social distancing guidelines and maintaining 4m2 distance between us (or 1.5m where that is not possible), but all meetings are otherwise done online. Please be aware, that as a precaution we will be wearing gloves at any such meeting as we may need to touch handles or surfaces. As for you and your safety at handover, we have recently teamed up with one of our trade partners and now offer a full disinfectant service on our homes prior to handover for your peace of mind.
Please note that we will cancel any face-to-face meeting if we, or you, are exhibiting any cold or flu like symptoms. Nevertheless, please rest assured that this will not delay the handover of your home. We pride ourselves on the personal service and experience that we deliver, however, if anyone is unable to meet in person for any reason, we will do whatever is necessary to get you the keys to your new home. We can express post them and be there with you on a video call as we would love to see your face when you enter your home for the first time and certainly afterward to obtain your feedback as well.
Further, as stated above, we are following the Governments’ strict guidelines and screening all workers coming to site, where workers must declare that they have not been overseas or in contact with anyone who has the Coronavirus or have flu-like symptoms. We have all guidelines clearly displayed on site and have contacted each supplier and subcontractor that will be attending on site and conveyed our expectation that they strictly follow all procedures and guidelines on site. If any of our workers or supplier representatives have been overseas or in contact with anyone with the Coronavirus, they will be placed in an enforced quarantine for a self-isolation period of 14 days. If any worker or supplier representative is experiencing flu-like symptoms regardless of whether they’ve travelled overseas or had contact with a confirmed case, they must not attend on site, then advise their workplace of the same and not return until they’ve been cleared by a medical practitioner.
For those workers and people that will be on site, they must practice social distancing wherever possible and PPE equipment is mandatory. If enclosed areas, 4m2 distance is to be maintained. This should not be difficult to achieve because we are only allowing one trade in an area on site at a time. We have also instructed our trades to ensure they stagger their meal breaks to reduce any further risk.
Further, we have our Covid Safe Plan on site and hand santiser on entry to the site. We also have health information and the mandatory hygiene practices displayed in prominent locations on site on our site fence and also within our set of plans for everyone to have easy access to and to follow without exception.
We ask that all workers on site minimise the use of shared tools and require that tools are cleaned regularly. On top of this, we are implementing twice daily cleaning to frequently touched surfaces (door handles, handrails, light switches, bench tops, tapware, etc). Advice on cleaning and disinfecting non-healthcare settings to reduce transmission is also located on our job sites. Click here for more detailed information. Trades and suppliers must clean behind themselves, including the site toilet.
We are ensuring that our sites are cleaned daily, by ourselves when we come through and also by the trades attending on site, who we require to clean after themselves and we commit to have each home completely sanitised prior to handover to ensure our customers’ peace of mind.
Changes in our office procedure
There have been several changes in our own in-house procedures. We are working around the clock to ensure our trades’, suppliers’ and customers’ safety as well as our own on site. We are educating our staff, our trades and our suppliers by sharing the important messages from the Government, HIA and the MBA. Our family is self-isolating, except for Nick who is our Director, Supervisor and the brave man who heads out to do our shopping, pick up the mail and attend on site to make sure that everything is running safely, smoothly and efficiently.
As already mentioned, we are no longer offering in-office meetings. All meetings are undertaken via Zoom and all Building Contracts and relevant documentation are reviewed and signed electronically.
We are still using our online customer portal and project management system Co-Construct, which allows our customers to log into their building project anytime, anywhere and ask questions or see the upcoming schedule of works, the financials, selections, files and photographs.
We have also recently partnered up with HazardCo, an innovative Health & Safety software developer that enables our people to induct themselves on site and scan in and out of the jobsite by using the app on their smart device with no close proximity contact required.
The time is now
This is a unique time in our lives. It’s a time where you will find Melbourne’s leading builders and trades working harder and smarter than they ever have before. All while we are experiencing record low interest rates and even holds on mortgage repayments in some circumstances (please note that the payments and interest that would have been paid during the 6 month period is added to the total of your principle loan and we recommend you make your own enquries in this regard).
The Government incentives to build right now are really appealing. For instance if you are a first home buyer in regional Victoria (i.e. Baw Baw Shire) and you are eligible, you can apply for the State and Federal First Home Owners Grants and the Home Builder Grant and potentially receive up to $70,000 from the Government and there are also concessions on Stamp Duty! It was also announced this week that the Home Builder Grant is being extended for a further 3 months! So you have 6 months to commence building your home from the date of signing your Building Contract. Further information on Grants is here.
The time to act is now. It is still possible to build your dream home or delve into your knock-down / rebuild and lock in current supply and material costs, whilst still mitigating against the risks of COVID-19.
We are not going to survive this unprecedented time, we are determined to thrive beyond it.
Call us today to find out how we can help.
Wishing you health and happiness.
Please stay safe.
Nick & Bek Bishop
Coronavirus updates: https://www.dhhs.vic.gov.au/coronavirus
Coronavirus hotline: 1800 675 398