Last updated: 21st January 2021
During these uncertain times, it’s important that we all work together to stay safe and healthy. So, we’ve brought the latest government advice together with our top tips to help you protect yourself and any tradespeople carrying out work for you.
Country-specific coronavirus rules
The government’s advised that tradespeople in England can carry out work inside people’s homes during the national lockdown (in place from 5th January 2021). They are also exempt from the gatherings limit in a home, as long as they’re there for work. This is as long as you, the tradesperson and both your households are well and have no coronavirus symptoms. The tradesperson must also follow the COVID-Secure guidance.
A tradesperson shouldn’t carry out work in your home if anyone in your household is self-isolating, unless the work is to sort a problem which is a direct risk to your safety, like emergency plumbing or repairs, and if they’re willing to do so.
From Friday 20th December 2020, the whole of Wales is at alert level 4. The Welsh government has confirmed that tradespeople can legally enter your home for reasons such as carrying out repairs and maintenance, activities supporting a house move, gardening, domestic cleaning and construction work.
Tradespeople should only work in your home if they can do it safely and they, the homeowner and their respective households are well and have no coronavirus symptoms. They must also follow all the reasonable measures and the guidance on working in other people’s homes.
The government has recommended that no work is carried out in a household where someone is isolating, unless it is to repair a fault or to carry out an adaptation to allow you to stay in your property. Additional precautions should be taken in these instances, to keep both you and the tradesperson safe. Public Health Wales can advise you in these specific cases. Find out more about the regulations around having building, repair or maintenance work done in your home on Gov.wales.
From Saturday 26th December 2020, additional restrictions are in place in Northern Ireland. The government has confirmed that tradespeople can continue to enter people’s homes to carry out work such as repairs, installations and deliveries, unless they are specifically required to close under the regulations.
The tradesperson should follow the public health advice and regulations whilst they’re in your home, including keeping a 2-metre distance from you. No tradesperson should enter your home if they, anyone in their household, or your household, has coronavirus symptoms. Read more about having work done in your home on NI Direct.
From 5th January 2021, mainland Scotland is in a temporary lockdown (some islands will remain at Level 3) meaning you can only leave your house or garden for an essential purpose. The Scottish government has confirmed that you can leave your home for work.
The Scottish government has also confirmed that tradespeople can enter other people’s homes to carry out essential work, such as:
- Utility (electricity, gas, water, telephone, broadband) safety checks, repairs, maintenance and installations (where they can’t be delayed).
- Repairs and maintenance that would otherwise threaten the health and safety of the household.
- Deliveries, installation or repairs of key household appliances and furniture such as fridges, washing machines and cookers.
- House move-related work, such as furniture removal.
- Domestic cleaning for people in vulnerable circumstances and/or living with a disability, who are unable to clean their own home as a result of that circumstance or disability, in order to support a clean and safe living environment for them.
When working inside your home, tradespeople should follow the guidance on working safely, including wearing a face covering and maintaining social distancing. Work can take place as long as you, the tradesperson and everyone in both of your households are well and have no coronavirus symptoms.
Hiring a tradesperson safely during the coronavirus pandemic
Try to cut down on unnecessary face-to-face contact as much as possible – we’ve advised our tradespeople to do the same. You can do this by:
- Sending a photo or video of the problem that needs fixing to the tradesperson. Many tradespeople have let us know that they’re happy to use these to provide an accurate quote, just remember to send as much detail as you can alongside them.
- Being supportive if the tradesperson needs to reschedule your appointment because they’ve developed coronavirus symptoms (like a high temperature, loss of smell or taste, and/or a new, continuous cough). Our Protected Payments service is a useful way to pay for work without needing to meet in person, plus your money is protected should the job be delayed – find out more about Protected Payments.
Once you’ve hired a tradesperson, you should keep in contact with them throughout the process. Let them know if you or anyone in your household is ill – the tradesperson should do the same so work can be rescheduled if needed. You can send messages to them using our Chat feature, which you can access within our Rated People Homes app or through our website. Read more about it on our Homeowner help page.
If your household is isolating, or an individual is being shielded, no work should be carried out unless it is to remedy a direct risk to the safety of the household, such as emergency plumbing or repairs, and where the tradesperson is willing to do so.
Preparing for a job
There are steps that you can take to create a safe working environment in your home, such as:
- Keeping in touch with the tradesperson. Let them know if you’re part of a more vulnerable group, for example you’re elderly or pregnant, so that they can put any additional protective measures in place before visiting you.
- Not allowing work to go ahead if you, or anyone in your household, displays any symptoms of coronavirus.
- Agree how the work will be done safely before the tradesperson arrives, particularly how they will maintain the the 2-metre distancing rule. If someone in the household is clinically vulnerable, but hasn’t been asked to shield, for example, someone over 70, you should make arrangements with them to avoid all face-to-face contact, for example, when answering the door.
- Clearing the room if necessary. For example, if you’re having a room painted, remove any furniture that could be in the way and take photos down from the walls, if possible. This will reduce the amount of contact that the tradesperson has with your possessions.
- Stocking up on biodegradable/recyclable paper cups and plates for the tradesperson to use.
- Making sure that hand washing facilities are available. Our tradespeople are being very vigilant by washing their hands with soap and water and using hand sanitiser regularly.
We’ve also advised our tradespeople to bring protective products on jobs, such as tissue, hand sanitiser and a plastic bag to dispose of used tissues.
Keeping safe whilst work’s taking place
Whilst the tradesperson’s in your house, it’s important that you:
- Let them know where they can wash their hands as soon as they come into your house.
- Minimise physical contact, for example by avoiding handshakes.
- Practice social distancing. The NHS recommends staying 2 metres away from other people in your house, so stay away from the work area as much as possible. If you’d like to read the government’s tips for maintaining social distancing for tradespeople, visit Gov.uk.
- Have the windows open if you can – this helps clean air to keep circulating throughout the room.
- Where social distancing guidelines can’t be followed, you should think about whether the work should continue.
What to do after the job’s done
Once your home’s been transformed, it’s a good idea to:
- Disinfect door handles, handrails and any other surfaces.
- Make sure to let the tradesperson know if you develop any symptoms of coronavirus, so they can take the appropriate precautions for themselves and anyone they’re in contact with.
Can tradespeople still work during the coronavirus pandemic?
The government is encouraging anyone who can’t work from home, such as tradespeople, to go back to work as long as they and anyone in their household has no symptoms. They shouldn’t carry out work in households that are self-isolating or if an individual is classed as vulnerable and being protected, unless the work is to sort a problem which is a direct risk to the safety of the household.
Countries may approach the different phases of lockdown differently. This guidance is in line with the UK government’s advice and is being followed in England. See the specific government websites for any differences.
Can I move home during the coronavirus pandemic?
Yes. The government has confirmed that you can move home in England (across all restriction tiers), Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland, even if you live in a high alert level local area or you’re in lockdown, as long as it can be done so safely.
You can still attend house viewings (at the moment, initial viewings tend to be virtual and any in-person ones will be by appointment only), and estate/letting agents and removal firms can continue to work.
What to do if you feel ill, or someone in your household is ill
If you have any symptoms of coronavirus, the latest NHS advice is to stay at home. If you have symptoms of coronavirus, you’ll need to stay at home for at least 10 days. Find out more about when you can stop self isolation on the NHS website. If you live with someone who has symptoms, you’ll need to stay at home for 14 days from the day the first person in the home started having symptoms.
Note: Countries may approach the different phases of lockdown differently. This guidance is in line with the UK government’s advice and is being followed in England. See the specific government websites for any differences.