Commercial Construction Is Shut Down

Commercial Construction is Shut Down. What can I do?

In light of the Provincial Government no longer listing commercial construction as essential, many construction projects across the Province are being shut down. As a result, our clients are asking us what they should be doing to ensure they are in the best position when construction resumes.  The answer depends on where you are in the planning and construction cycle.

If construction has already commenced, it is important first to ensure that your contractor safely shores and secures the site. You should also request photographs to properly document the status of the work at the time of the shutdown as owners and contractors will be liable for the cost of work already performed.

If you are about to enter into a new lease, the uncertainty around the duration of the shutdown may impact your ability to complete construction and prepare for your move by the intended commencement date.  It is advisable to reach out to your landlord now in order to determine your options for amending critical dates.

If construction is well advanced, it is likely that you have already paid one or more progress applications.  Where your lease includes for payment of a Tenant Improvement or Construction Allowance, recovery of your funds will now be impacted by the delay.  You may wish to initiate a dialogue with your Landlord to determine their willingness to pay the allowance in installments rather than waiting until construction is complete.

If construction has not yet started, there are several tasks that you should review to ensure the work will progress more quickly once sites are reopened.  First, if your project has not yet been tendered, this time can be used to complete the tender process for all divisions. Special attention should be paid to the potential impact of the shutdown on individual subtrades and their ability to execute the project once construction reopens.

Once the project is tendered, make sure that Letters of Intent and Purchase Orders are issued so that subtrades are awarded and ready to commence activities at the appropriate time. You can also take this time to review the list of materials and ensure orders are placed. It is likely that the shutdown is going to disrupt the supply chain, so ordering early can maximize the chance that your delivery will not be delayed. This will also allow your consultant team to complete the shop drawing and submittal review and approval process, again minimizing the chance for delays once construction reopens. Extra time will be required to ensure suppliers and vendors will be able to fulfill these orders and, if not, substitutions can be selected now without impact to your schedule.

This is also the time that, if not already completed, you should complete the planning and procurement for any required third-party work including furniture, audio-visual and security. We have already heard from a number of vendors and suppliers that supply chain has been affected for these items so it is important to ensure you have enough time to either select alternatives or understand impacts of any delays to overall schedule.

Finally, if you are in the late planning stages, take this opportunity to consider how the pandemic may impact the way you design your space and make any necessary changes to your layout.  Work with your design team to finalize plans and prepare for permit submission.  The planning departments remain open to receive and process permits in some jurisdictions; take advantage of this opportunity to have all approvals in place so you are ready to ramp up once the green light to proceed is given.

In summary, viewing the shut down as an opportunity for further planning and preparation will ensure your project is optimized and ready to go once construction can resume. Doing this work now, may even allow you to make up some of the lost time.