Why We Temporarily Suspended Construction During COVID-19

March 2020
by Rachel White

This post was published on March 16, 2020. We resumed field operations the week of May 26th and updated the title to reflect that the work suspension has passed. No other edits have been made to the original post.

Upton Sinclair wrote, "It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on his not understanding it."

At Byggmeister our salaries depend on our being able to go into your homes and make them better. But these days, our going into your homes stands a very real risk of not making them better, but instead exposing you and your family to a virus that is not only highly contagious but potentially lethal to more fragile family members and friends.

We have thought long and hard about this, discussed it internally at length, and come to the difficult understanding (to use Sinclair's words) that we have an obligation to suspend remodeling work until our community has greater clarity about how to manage the risks of the current pandemic.

Project planning work, which can mostly happen remotely, will continue (we are gearing up for lots of video conferences!).

At Byggmeister, we spend a lot of time looking at graphs, charts, and tables. We intuitively understand the concept of "flattening the curve." But as a service company we also keenly understand the human element behind "flattening the curve." Those who can get out of the way should, so that those who need to remain on the front lines, from emergency room doctors to grocery store clerks, can do so with less personal risk and lower social costs.

Byggmeister is blessed with a strong, resilient team, solid finances, and loyal clients. We can take a harder punch than most remodeling companies, and thus feel that it's our responsibility to do so. We will admit that it also feels pretty scary and exposed.

Every homeowner's nightmare is to have their remodeling contractor disappear for a few weeks, and every aspect of our project planning and management process is geared towards avoiding just that. And yet here we are.

For homeowners to have to practice social distancing and be largely home-bound at the same time as their renovation project has been put on hold for an indeterminate period can only compound stress, anxiety and frustration. Knowing that we are placing homeowners in this position is wrenching. The only thing that would feel worse right now would be to be responsible for introducing COVID-19 into a home.

When we look back on this decision months or years from now, we may feel that we overreacted. But based on what we know about the magnitude of the threat, and what we don't know about the pandemic's trajectory, we feel that temporarily suspending construction is the most socially responsible thing to do.

May we all stick together through the next few weeks and hopefully come out stronger as a community.