COVID-19 & Renovating


We are currently in extremely unusual times, where it often feels like we are placing our lives on hold. However, does this include putting on hold your dreams of carrying out a new build, extension, or renovation? Depending on your own individual situation this may not be necessary. This Q&A article aims to demystify the current situation in the world of COVID-19 and to provide you with the tools for making informed decisions. This is general advice specific to private residential projects in the state of Victoria. And, we recommend that you obtain your own individual financial advice before proceeding with any project, along with legal advice before signing a building contract.

Is COVID-19 affecting the design process?

To date, in our practice, COVID-19 is not affecting the design process. We are now having all meetings remotely (via Zoom or a similar platform), which is a practice we were doing with some clients and consultants before the current pandemic. And, our specialist consultants – like surveyors, engineers, etc. – are still working.

Should I hold off starting my project?

For most of our projects, which require a Town Planning Permit, we find it typically takes twelve months to take the project from concept through to starting on site. For smaller projects where a Town Planning Permit is not required, like a renovation as opposed to an extension or new build, it typically takes around six months to take the project from concept through to completion on site. Thus, if you are planning to start construction on your project at the other end of the current pandemic, you may need to take into consideration the design and documentation period.

Will construction periods be affected?

In the current climate, under the current restrictions, the state government’s requirements of social distancing apply to construction sites. Thus, fewer construction workers are allowed on site than you would typically see. We have also seen trades being unwilling to be on site whilst other trades are there as an additional precaution. Thus, the short answer is yes.

Should I be signing a building contract in the current climate?

Yes, you can still sign a building contract in the current climate. And, we are currently moving towards signing two new building contracts, and we will be adding special conditions written by lawyers that address force majeure events.

Should I hold off on the Construction Stage of my project?

This depends on your own individual financial circumstances, so we advise that you should seek your own financial advice.

Are there increased risks in signing a building contract under the current circumstances?

There are risks associated with signing any contract, and it is important to understand these risks along with risks associated with COVID-19. These are mainly to do with the timing and supply of items.

Is the current pandemic affecting the supply of items for the site?

In the industry, there have been some issues with the supply of items. To date, we have only had one issue which meant going to another supplier for one material. Thus, we would recommend that there are provisions placed in the Construction Contract that orders on certain items are placed early. And, you may need to be more flexible if an item is not available and that it may need to be substituted for another item of equal quality.

Is there anything I need to be aware of before signing a Construction Contract?

We always advise our clients to obtain legal advice before signing a Construction Contract.

Will there be a correction in the construction industry?

This is difficult to predict as we are currently in a time which is unprecedented.