With the COVID-19 pandemic, a lot of industries have ground to a complete stop because of the stay at home measures put into place by governments all across the globe. The local renovation market in Vancouver has been affected by this but projects are still ongoing. How is it different from before the pandemic?
In the past couple months, there has been a drastic shift. There was the initial shock to all stakeholders but all have now established a new rhythm. The discovery phase is pretty much the same. The meeting of the client, talking about floorplans, sharing images, etc. While working virtually is not new to a lot of designers, for most of them it is the first they are working virtually even with clients that are just around the corner.
The Virtual Discovery Phase
The design industry relies heavily on the platform Zoom for its virtual meetings during discovery. Since this is a very personal industry, experts are finding themselves using up to 10 minutes to get the call to work. The process really takes more time, more preparation, and more planning. Everybody involved understands this and that is really important for a seamless process going forward.
There are of course challenges of not doing this part of the process in person. When it comes to conveying textures and colors here is where we see challenges. Computer and phone lighting and angles can affect the perception of both parties. This challenge is met by design or renovation teams purchasing extra samples and having these delivered to their clients ahead of time. Again this causes an extension of the timeline.
Scheduling meetings and making sure that everything is properly labeled helps to make it easier for clients to be walked through the process of the virtual meeting.
Sometimes clients have to be taught how to accurately measure their spaces. So that the design process could begin. All in all, more preparation is needing, more planning and so the renovation time is being prolonged but work is still underway.
Limitations Brought on By Social Distancing
Most sites only allow one trade to present at a site at any time during the COVID pandemic. For larger projects where it is possible for trades to keep their distance, multiple trades are allowed on-site at one time. The challenge in Vancouver is that most spaces are smaller. So all construction projects are looking at longer periods.
General contractors have gotten on board with the new site rules which also include regular hand washing and disinfecting. And of course, there is the mask-wearing and keeping of distance. People in our perception have really been adjusting very well to the rules.
What Types of Renovation Tasks Have Been Affected?
Everything from small tasks as repainting and carpeting is all taking longer than typical. People have to be schedule, keys have to be handed over with no contact. Some have to deal with the booking of elevators if they are working in a condo. All these things take up more time. So while workdays are not longer, simple tasks are taking longer and stretching out the timeline for completion of a project.
The good part is that everyone affected understands. And while a long wait time can be frustrating for all involved, we have so far learned to be more patient and to work together towards the end goal of a completed renovation project.