Building Survey and Construction Site Inspection protocol in response to COVID-19

Building Survey and Construction Site Inspection protocol in response to COVID-19

As a result of the latest RICS correspondence, Paragon will now in specific instances and following all Government guidance, undertake building surveys and construction site inspections on behalf of clients whilst following strict conditions of inspection. Paragon will continue to monitor this protocol on an ongoing basis.

Why
This Protocol has been prepared to define the procedures to be adopted for all property and construction site inspections by all Paragon service lines during the COVID-19 outbreakIt will be updated in line with RICS and UK Government advice as the COVID-19 situation develops. This Protocol is intended for surveys and inspections of both unoccupied and occupied buildings and/or construction sites via bespoke Procedures to be adopted as required for the required scope of inspection.
 
RICS Guidance and Paragon Insurance

This Protocol has been prepared with full regard to professional guidance provided by the RICS, reference https://www.rics.org/uk/news-insight/latest-news/coronavirus-and-rics-events/guidance-for-professionals/. This Protocol has been prepared with full regard current to insurance maintained by Paragon for Public Liability and Employer Liability.
 
Paragon Director Authorisation

A Paragon Team Leader or Director authorisation is required for any survey or site visit pursuant to this Protocol having first referenced this Protocol and satisfied that all Conditions have been met and all Procedures will be adopted. Only the first site visit requires authorisation in the case of construction sites and repeat inspections.
 
Unforeseen Situations and Aborting Inspections

The Protocol is intended to be as comprehensive as possible and anticipate all survey and inspection scenarios. There will always be exceptions. The Surveyor/PM/CM should remain vigilant and observant prior to and during the inspection. If the Procedure you have planned to work to cannot be applied in practice on the day, due to something different from what you were expecting or something unforeseen, then you must inform your line manager immediately and abort the inspection.
 
Construction Site Visits and PPE

Current UK Government advice and Construction Leadership Council guidance does not require or recommend the use of specific COVID-19 PPE for non-clinical environments. This protocol does not therefore require Paragon employees to use a face covering whilst inspecting construction sites unless this is required to comply with a main contractors site specific SOP. Where site specific SOP does require the use of a face covering, this should be provided by the Principal Contractor (new and opened).

Property Inspections and PPE
This protocol does not require Paragon employees undertaking property inspections to wear a face covering unless that property is an occupied shop or supermarket. In England, you must by law wear a face covering in the following settings:

  • Public Transport
  • Shops and Supermarkets as of 24 July 2020

Specific advice on the wearing of face coverings can be found here:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/face-coverings-when-to-wear-one-and-how-to-make-your-own/face-coverings-when-to-wear-one-and-how-to-make-your-own

Different regulations exist for wearing face coverings in different parts of the UK about which you can find out more on devolved government websites:

https://www.gov.scot/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-phase-3-staying-safe-and-protecting-others/pages/face-coverings/

https://gov.wales/face-coverings-frequently-asked-questions

Clinically Vulnerable and Extremely Vulnerable People
If you are clinically extremely vulnerable as defined by UK Government advice specific to COVID-19, you will need to continue shielding until 31 July 2020 and as such will not be required to undertake site inspections before this date. From the 1 August 2020, shielding will be paused and you will be required to undertake site inspections unless agreed otherwise and so that alternative arrangements can be put in place. Please contact lauraharty@paragonbc.co.uk if you have any concerns or queries on this.

If you are clinically vulnerable as defined by UK Government advice specific to COVID-19 you can meet people outdoors and, from 4 July, indoors, albeit you should be especially careful and be diligent about social distancing and hand hygiene. On this basis, Paragon employees in this category can undertake property inspections and construction site visits provided they strictly follow the procedures set out in this protocol for social distancing and hand hygiene.

Further guidance on Clinically Extremely Vulnerable and Clinically Vulnerable People can be found here:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-on-shielding-and-protecting-extremely-vulnerable-persons-from-covid-19/guidance-on-shielding-and-protecting-extremely-vulnerable-persons-from-covid-19

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/staying-alert-and-safe-social-distancing/staying-alert-and-safe-social-distancing-after-4-july#clinically-vulnerable-people

Conditions
Before considering Procedures to be adopted, the following Conditions of inspection must apply and have been confirmed in writing to Paragon by the instructing client (or Main Contractor in the case of construction site visits):

For Building Surveys Procedure A, B or C

  • The building is vacant or unoccupied – use Procedure A
  • The building is vacant or unoccupied and remained so prior to the COVID-19 outbreak, which for the purpose of this Protocol will be January 22 2020 (the Public Health England announces it is moving the risk level to the British public from ‘very low’ to ‘low’ and before the first UK reported positive cases on 29 January) – use Procedure B
  • Where the building is occupied use Procedure C
  • Where the building is occupied, The Landlord (or Tenant in the case of a single occupier) has adopted a SOP for the building which maintains social distancing as defined by Public Health England guidelines. The SOP must have been received and reviewed and these procedures then adopted for the survey. For multi-occupied buildings, the Landlord SOP must also provide the SOP’s of the individual Tenants.
  • In the unlikely event that the Landlord or Tenant SOP does not extend to any of the steps in Paragon Procedure C, the surveyor must follow the Paragon additional steps.
  • Where the building is occupied but no SOP is available, a survey risk assessment will need to be completed by the lead surveyor (and signed off by the Service Line Head) before then adopting Procedure C.

For Construction Site Inspections Procedure C

  • The main contractor has adopted a SOP compliant with the Construction Leadership Council guidelines. Further information on the current version of this guidance see http://www.constructionleadershipcouncil.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Site-Operating-Procedures-Version-5.pdf
  • The CDM Principal Contractor has formally incorporated the SOP into the CDM Construction Phase Plan (CPP)
  • The appointed CDM Principal Designer has confirmed that the CPP has been sufficiently updated and developed to enable construction operations to continue or recommence
  • In exception circumstances where a construction site is closed and there is no SOP in place e.g. a main contractor in administration, a survey risk assessment will need to be completed.

Procedure A

  • The Surveyor undertaking the inspection confirms to the instructing Director or Team Leader, they have not had Coronavirus symptoms for at least 7 days or it has been at least 14 days since they had contact with someone with Coronavirus symptoms. Further guidance see https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/coronavirus-covid-19-list-of-guidance
  • Travel to inspection must be by the Surveyor’s own transport (car, motorcycle, pushbike) wherever possible. Where more than one Surveyor is inspecting, car sharing is not permitted and social distancing should be maintained at all times during the inspection.
  • If the above in not possible, travel may be undertaken by overland rail services or bus provided that Social Distancing Rules can be maintained for the journey and a face covering is used. Surveys should be planned to avoid use of public transport during peak times. It will be at the Surveyor’s own discretion as to whether this can be maintained based on the level of passenger congestion using the service at the time of travel. If in doubt, the Surveyor should abort the travel, cancel the inspection and notify their team administrator. For the avoidance of doubt, travel by Underground Rail Services is not permitted by this Protocol.
  • Upon arriving at the building, the Surveyor is to phone their team administrator confirming the building is unoccupied, time commencing survey and estimated duration of survey
  • Prior to commencing the inspection and entering the building, use any PPE required by the building SOP. Where the SOP requires use of a face covering or disposable gloves, ensure these are new and unopened PPE if provided to you on site
  • When obtaining keys, signing in/being let in, remain a minimum 1m and ideally 2m from the security guard/keyholder
  • Upon completing the survey, the Surveyor is to phone their team administrator confirming that the inspection is complete
  • Upon completing the inspection, any disposable PPE used should be removed and the Surveyor should wash their hands (at the building if suitable washing facilities remain available) or with hand sanitising gel which the Surveyor must carry.

Procedure B

  • Travel to inspection must be by the Surveyor’s own transport (car, motorcycle, pushbike) wherever possible. Where more than one Surveyor is inspecting, car sharing is not permitted and social distancing should be maintained at all times during the inspection.
  • If the above in not possible, travel may be undertaken by overland rail services or bus provided that Social Distancing Rules can be maintained for the journey and a face covering is used. Surveys should be planned to avoid use of public transport during peak times. It will be at the Surveyor’s own discretion as to whether this can be maintained based on the level of passenger congestion using the service at the time of travel. If in doubt, the Surveyor should abort the travel, cancel the inspection and notify their team administrator. Travel by Underground Rail Services is not advised .
  • Upon arriving at the building, the Surveyor is to phone their team administrator confirming the building is unoccupied, time commencing survey and estimated duration of survey.
  • When obtaining keys, signing in/ being let in, remain minimum 1m and ideally 2m from the security guard/keyholder.
  • Upon completing the survey, the Surveyor is to phone their team administrator confirming that the inspection is complete

Procedure C

  • The Surveyor/PM/CM undertaking the inspection confirms to the instructing Director or Team Leader, they have not had Coronavirus symptoms for at least 7 days or it has been at least 14 days since they had contact with someone with Coronavirus symptoms. Further guidance see https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/coronavirus-covid-19-list-of-guidance
  • Travel to inspection must be by the Surveyor’s/PM/CM own transport (car, motorcycle, pushbike) wherever possible. Where more than one Surveyor/PM/CM is inspecting, car sharing is not permitted and social distancing should be maintained at all times during the inspection.
  • If the above in not possible, travel may be undertaken by overland rail services or bus provided that Social Distancing Rules can be maintained for the journey and a face covering is used. Surveys/inspections should be planned to avoid use of public transport during peak times. It will be at the Surveyor’s/PM/CM own discretion as to whether this can be maintained based on the level of passenger congestion using the service at the time of travel. If in doubt, the Surveyor/PM/CM should abort the travel, cancel the inspection and notify their team administrator. For the avoidance of doubt, travel by Underground Rail Services is not permitted by this Protocol.
  • Prior to commencing the inspection and entering the building, use any PPE required by the building SOP. Where the SOP requires use of a face covering or disposable gloves, ensure these are new and unopened PPE if provided to you on site.
  •  When obtaining keys, signing in/being let in, remain a minimum of 1m and ideally 2m from the security guard/keyholder
  • Undertake the inspection, remaining a minimum of 1m and ideally 2m from all other persons on site/in the building.
  • Upon completing the inspection, any disposable PPE used should be removed and the Surveyor/PM/CM should wash their hands (at the building if suitable washing facilities remain available) or with hand sanitising gel which the Surveyor/PM/CM must carry.
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