Planning a House in Times of Pandemics

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Planning a House in Times of Pandemics


Jagvir Goyal

Second wave of corona virus pandemic has taken the country by storm. Death, destruction and despair are ruling the cities as new strains and initial vaccine hesitancy add surge to the wave. Migrant labour is returning to their hometowns. Under such circumstances, a house builder faces new challenges while planning to start construction of his house. Here are some tips that may lessen his worries:

Ensure house plan approval: Be prepared for delay in house plan approval but ensure it before start of construction work. Work from Home is the new norm and house plan approvals may take more than normal time. Have patience for that.

Procurement of materials: During the construction period of house, one fear that house builder will face is imposition of lockdown causing a stop to supply of materials to his house site. Therefore, his foremost task will be to get the material requirement estimated from an estimate provider and plan their supply to his site. Tie up with material suppliers for phone ordering and stack basic materials like Cement, steel, bricks, sand, coarse aggregates, pipes and conduits required in first two months at site by making proper arrangement for their storage. Ensure payments to suppliers through RTGS for continuous supply of materials. Plan for further requirements also as scores of materials are required during house construction.

Water supply and electricity connections: The house builder should ensure provision of water supply and electricity connections to the house site by applying to the concerned utilities. Ensure that electricity cables and water supply line to the house site are given enough earth cover to avoid any disruption in them due to running of traffic on the road in front of house. No disruption in these two services can be allowed nor expect immediate attending to a problem in them if occurs. It’s better to ensure their secure and foolproof provision.

Woodwork workshop: Once the house plans are ready, the house builder should procure seasoned wood of desired quality and choose a woodwork yard for carpenters to work on it. The yard may be available at carpenters’ premises or a safe space can be hired on rent for it. Let woodwork continue as a parallel activity. Once the walls are erected, the carpenters can visit the site to have actual measurements and assemble door and window frames and shutters accordingly.

Tie-up with shuttering man: Scaffolding & shuttering can be in labour contractor’s scope. Otherwise tie up with their supplier for timely supply of shuttering plates, pipes, concrete mixer, vibrators and other items on rent when required.

Labour hutments: An essential requirement in the times of pandemics will be to create labour hutments for the workers engaged at house site. Normally, a house builder doesn’t provide such hutments but during pandemics, to avoid disruption in work, workers availability near the house site will be highly beneficial for house owner. For this, work out a mutual agreement with the labour contractor by sharing expenditure on hutments. Once the first floor RCC slab is laid, some of workers can move inside the structure and number of hutments can be reduced.

Thermal screening of labour:To avoid spread of pandemic, the house builder should hire a guard at the entry of house who should do thermal screening of anyone entering the site premises. Anyone having fever shouldn’t be allowed to enter the site.

Manpower vaccination: Learning from the pandemic times, enter a new clause in the agreement with working gang contractors that only those workers shall be hired for work who have undergone vaccination. Vaccine-hesitancy is now over yet vaccination may take time in reaching villages, remote areas and labour class. Therefore, ensuring this agreement, may be in writing or verbally will help in non-occurrence of spread of infection at house site.

Ensure wearing of masks and social distancing: Wearing of masks and social distancing is now a regular feature at all construction sites. It needs to travel to individual house sites also. Private builders building four storeyed houses on plots have started following it though workers are habitual of pulling the mask down once they enter the premises. However, a house builder should ensure that workers at his site wear the masks and are spread out to the extent possible for social distancing.

Hand washing & toilet arrangements:The house builder should resolve to spend extra in providing proper toilet facilities and a hand washing station for the workers. This will ultimately help in avoiding workers from getting infected and spreading of disease.

Follow SOP issued by the Government: During pandemic times, Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) are issued by the Government from time to time. The house builder should ensure to go through them as following these SOPs is mandatory.

Keep patience: Some delays during construction are obvious under these circumstances. Productions are down and material supplies get delayed. Have patience to accommodate such delays.