The New York State Builders Association has gone on record to ask the state to allow construction to resume right away—statewide—rather than wait for the proposed phased approach by region that the governor has outlined.
Lewis Dubuque, association executive vice president, said in a May 4 statement that homebuilders “have a limited time-frame based on the weather to undertake construction of residential housing. It is critical for the building industry to get back to work to capture as much of the remaining construction season as possible,” according to the statement.
“Residential construction companies that reside in areas that border other states further risk losing valuable subcontractors who may search for employment in Pennsylvania, Connecticut, New Jersey and Ohio where construction is currently ramping up,” he said.
In late April, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo outlined a phased plan to re-open New York and re-imagine a new normal for the state starting with construction and manufacturing. He said the plan will be based on regional analysis and determinations. Based on CDC recommendations, once a region experiences a 14-day decline in the hospitalization rate they may begin a phased reopening.
Phase one will include opening construction and manufacturing functions with low risk.
But few details have yet to be released.
Cuomo said the phased reopening would be based on individual business and industry plans that include new measures to protect employees and consumers, make the physical work space safer and implement processes that lower risk of infection in the business. The state is consulting with local leaders in each region and industry to formulate these plans.
“Gov. Cuomo has indicated the importance of a regional approach to restarting New York economy. Unfortunately for New Yorkers, market-rate residential construction is currently considered an essential industry in Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Delaware, but not here in New York,” Dubuque said.
“Further, New Jersey and Vermont are allowing projects that are currently under contract to be completed with a maximum of five employees on the job site, and Pennsylvania is allowing construction projects to resume with four people on a job site.
He said the current essential business construct does not have to be changed in any way to accommodate residential construction. Building code officials, material suppliers and local government officials are already considered essential.
“It is not too much to ask for New York to allow residential construction companies to resume working on projects that were already in place before New York shut down businesses on March 22.” Dubuque said. “Home builders are ready and able to respond to Gov. Cuomo’s challenge to ‘re-imagine the workplace.’ We are currently working diligently at this difficult time to provide innovative ways to respond to this crisis by continuing to provide employment and shelter for New York state’s residents.”
According to Dubuque, “the residential construction work environment is uniquely situated to effectively limit the spread of coronavirus to the public and protect workers at the job site with safety protocols. That is why every other state has already allowed market-rate residential construction to resume. We believe that New York should, as well.”