COVID-19: Can building work continue during the lockdown?

COVID-19: Can Building Work Continue During the Lockdown?


Yes. All building activity can continue subject to meeting the COVID-19 safety plan for construction sites.

The HIA have compiled the following information to help and support the Construction and Trade industries during this lockdown period. 

Builders need to create a COVID-19 Safety Plan online for all building work at unoccupied sites. There are different limits on the number and types of workers permitted on large construction sites, small construction sites and occupied renovation sites.

The sites will then need to be prepared with new site signage and check-in measures to comply with the requirements agreed to in the COVID-19 Safety Plan. A link to HIA’s step by step guide for small construction sites is provided below.

What are the worker limits for building work on unoccupied sites?

On site for construction, renovation and additions on unoccupied residential buildings two storeys and under:

  • Only one trade team may be on site at any given time, for example, bricklayers and carpenters cannot be on site at the same time.
  • Trades may only attend a maximum of five different sites per week.
  • These limits are not applicable to certain specialist roles that are on site for relatively short periods of time such as site supervisors, certifiers and professional services, engineers, surveyors, delivery drivers and specialist installers working on their own.

For large construction sites there are no limits on the number of trade teams on site, and no limit on the number of sites that can be visited.

For building projects over two storeys, the nature of a larger project means the COVID-19 control measures need to be site specific. Within a COVID safety plan, the builder/principal contractor must agree to comply with the density limit for indoor areas of 1 person per 4m2 and a range of other COVID safety measures set out in the plan.

What are the worker limits for building work on occupied renovation sites?

Renovation work on occupied sites is permitted to continue but must now meet limits on the number of workers on site and ensure additional COVID safety measures are followed.

For renovation work on occupied sites:

  • workers must remain separated from all residents when on site,
  • a maximum of two workers are permitted at any given time in indoor areas, and
  • a maximum of five workers may be on site at any given time in outdoor areas.

Occupied home renovation sites do not require a COVID-19 Safety Plan or a ServiceNSW Check-in code. HIA Making space on site guideline for renovation and repair sites site sign as a useful guide that renovation builders may choose to use, along with HIA’s guide for new home buyers and renovators.

HIA Making space on site resources for unoccupied small construction sites.

The HIA Making space on site resources developed last week for small construction sites in Greater Sydney can be used by members in the Hunter and Upper Hunter to meet these new safety obligations.

The HIA Making space on site resources include:

Whilst the process is lengthy and all workers to sites will be required to ‘check in’ and make declarations daily, following these rules will hopefully assist the Hunter region return to ‘business as usual’ as quickly as possible.

What are the face mask requirements?

Any person leaving their home is required to carry a mask at all times.

You must wear a face mask:

  • in all indoor and outdoor areas including a construction site where it is safe to do so.
  • in an indoor area on common property in a residential premises for example lifts and foyers.

An indoor area includes a building or other structure, whether or not temporary, which has a roof, ceiling or other top covering, but does not include an area with at least 2 sides open to the weather.

NSW Health has a range of posters available to use including sign for masks on construction sites (indoors).

The Australian Government also has a range of posters that can be downloaded for free. Construction sites should display the ‘masks are mandatory’ sign.

Can display homes and selection centres remain open?

No. Display homes or other selection centres open to the public must close during the lockdown as all non-essential retail premises are required to close.

The lockdown will effectively mean that it is unlikely a customer is permitted to justify leaving their homes to attend a display home over the next 7 days.

However, the public health orders recognise that “undertaking any legal obligations” is a “reasonable excuse” to leave home.

Therefore if, as part of the normal operating arrangements for your business, a display home or selection centre is used to carry out contract signing and other contract administration requirements, such as material selections, and these activities cannot be delayed, done from home or done virtually, it may be acceptable for pre-arranged and contractually required meetings to occur.

Should it be essential for these activities to be carried out at a display home or selection centre, HIA recommends that these be by appointment, be limited to a maximum of 2 people and all other COVID safety measures be adopted.

Can workers carpool?

Workers can only carpool if it is necessary for carrying out their work in a work vehicle.

If travelling in a work vehicle with another person you must carry evidence of where you live, for example a driver’s license and produce this to a police officer if asked.

Can manufacturing and warehousing facilities continue to operate?

Yes. There are no restrictions that require a manufacturing or warehousing facility to close during the lockdown.

Under the ‘reasonable excuses’ workers are allowed to leave home to carry out work that cannot be done at home. This means all workers that live in the affected lockdown areas are permitted to attend work in manufacturing and warehousing facilities.

Contacting HIA during the lockdown

HIA’s Hunter office will be closed to the public until Friday 13 August at this stage.

Our staff will all be available to assist members with questions by phone and email.

HIA will provide further advice on any changes during the lockdown that may impact members.

Other information

HIA has prepared FAQs and other information which is available on HIA’s COVID-19 website that will assist Hunter members to understand the specific limits that will apply for the next 7 days.

HIA is continuing to meet daily with the NSW Government in relation to the reopening of sites and making the process as simple as possible for everyone involved. It remains our intention that all residential building work can return to normal as soon as possible. We will keep members updated on any changes as they occur.

HIA recognises that the impact of COVID-19 has been significant on members, staff and families. Members should take time to look after your staff and your own personal health including being mindful about everyone’s mental health. HIA has resources available to assist members through our relationship with BeyondBlue.

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