Who is Essential? Home Builders Take Precautions Against Coronavirus as Business Continues

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According to the most recent Dallas County shelter-in-place orders, residential home construction is considered an essential business. However, builders are expected to take measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 among crews and subcontractors.

Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins amended his order earlier this week outlining the different protective measures builders must engage in order to operate (seen here on page 11), which includes mandatory temperature checks as workers arrive on the jobsite and before workers are sent home.

That’s problematic, says Phil Crone, Dallas Builders Association executive officer.

“Keeping workers safe must be the utmost priority of any jobsite. This is especially the case during the COVID-19 crisis,” Crone said. “I had hoped Dallas County would have simply stuck to the guidelines that were developed by the Construction Industry Safety Coalition (CISC), which is the leading organization and health authority on this issue. Their guidance can and should be followed by all prudent operators.”

But the temperature check order is outside of those guidelines, he said.

“Our concern with the Dallas County order is the temperature taking guidelines. Many operators cannot locate this equipment. Even if they do, they are taking them from medical professionals who need them right now,” he said. “Social distancing and sanitization is the only proven strategy to stop the spread. Again, we need standards that are effective and that any prudent operator can abide by, not just the wealthiest of the construction community.”

Crone also took issue with the terminology used in the order.

“We are also confused as to what is an elective addition or maintenance,” he added. “Does this apply to ongoing projects of that nature? If so, can they continue until the project is at a safe stage or to a stage where residents can live there? We agree that now is not the time for new elective projects or maintenance that can wait until later.”

Of course, Crone and DBA members are committed to doing business in a way that shows the very best side of the industry. If builders aren’t abiding by the law, they should be shut down, he said.

“We also agree that operators who do not show a bona fide commitment to social distancing, sanitization, and protecting workers in a manner consistent with the CISC guidelines should be shut down,” he said. “We cannot emphasize enough the need for all builders to take this seriously.”

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Joanna England

If Executive Editor Joanna England could house hunt forever, she absolutely would. Instead she covers the North Texas housing market and the economy for CandysDirt.com. While she started out with the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University, Joanna's work has appeared in The Dallas Morning News as well as several local media outlets. When she's not knitting or hooping, or enjoying White Rock Lake, she's behind the lens of her camera. She lives in East Dallas with her husband, son, and their furry and feathered menagerie.

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