Michigan Home Builders Ready to Get Back to Work
Survey shows majority feel ready to work safely during COVID-19 concerns
Michigan construction crews say they’re ready to get to work, and they’ve got data to prove it. Home builders say they’re ready to go – safely – as soon as they get the green light from the governor’s office.
Brian Terhune of Terhune Construction in Traverse City says he’s “eager to get back to work. Everybody’s been laid off, everyone on my crew. You can only do so much from home.”
Spring is here, and with it, what is supposed to be another busy season of home construction. Bob O’Hara is the Executive Officer with the Home Builders Association of the Grand Traverse Area. He says, “We’ve got five, maybe six months where we can get our work done. We’re just at the beginning of that season. So there is some urgency to move forward on a plan.”
Terhune adds, “I’ve got a lumber pack sitting in front of a project ready to go. It’s been sitting there for several weeks. So I’d like to get started on that and a couple others too. And homeowners feel the same too.”
The Home Builders Association of Michigan says they’ve surveyed all of their members. The HBA survey, according to O’Hara, asked builders, “If you are ready to go back to work do you have a plan to do that safely? And if you have a plan to do that safely do you have the supplies you need?” Six hundred contractors replied to the survey, and 94% say they have a safety plan to address COVID-19 concerns. And 92% say they have the necessary personal protective equipment (PPE) needed to do their jobs safely.
Terhune says, “I think using personal protective equipment, keeping our tools clean, keeping the number of employees on a job site to a minimum. I think there’s ways we can accomplish our work and still not be a hazard.”
O’Hara says safety plans include sanitizing stations at job sites, with masks, gloves and safety glasses; as well as limiting contacts with other workers. “We want to go back to work safely. It’s not an either/or proposition. It’s (that) both of them have to happen. Yes we need to go back to work but we need to do it safely.”
The state’s largest construction-related trade association says they’re working with lawmakers to make that clear. And their window of time on construction season is already closing. O’Hara says the window is “still kind of at the top but it’s starting to slide down. This is the time when contractors are out. We’ve already got foundations in the ground. Starting to frame-up houses.”
Terhune hopes it doesn’t take much longer. “I’m hoping that after the 30th we can get back to work and people use that, implement that, and use a work-safe procedure. Other businesses have shown they can operate safely, and I think we can too.”
For now, the machines – and the work crews – sit idle… waiting for answers.