A LEADING Ballarat builder says while larger construction companies remain working during the coronavirus stoppages, a downturn might still be coming for the building sector.
H Troon director James Troon said the company was operational, but he expected this could change in coming weeks and months as tender processes slowed down. The company has already been forced to make five workers redundant this week. While Mr Troon said he could not be sure this was related to coronavirus shutdown effects, this was an adjustment to slowing work.
"We have had to adjust some of our business practices, to suit restrictions as announced by the government," Mr Troon said.
"Every time the cabinet meets you sit there with bated breath.
"Every time the cabinet meets you sit there with bated breath.- James Troon
"We've changed a few things in the office in that respect we have a few people working from home.
"Out on site, we are practicing the same distancing rules as everyone else. Fortunately, for a lot of our projects we don't have a number of guys on the site."
Mr Troon said split lunch breaks, additional accommodating to ensure everyone was working in a four-metre radius and increased hygiene and cleaning were all part of the daily working routine, while any visitor to any work site has to complete a form before entering.
There is just so much up in the air that you don't know what your next step should be.- Adam Drake, Dracon Construction
Mr Troon said the businesses, which employs 85 people, mostly in Ballarat, was planning for a likely future downturn when projects were complete.
"We are relieved that we can continue to move forward at this point of time, we'll deal with it if it changes," he said.
"We expect there might be a drop off in work in the next few months.
"Right now we've got projects underway or set to commence and there's normally a regular flow of tended work, or more projects to come through, that is where we would probably expect a drop off in that market in next few weeks."
CLARIFICATION: The Courier incorrectly stated H Troon was continuing fully operational with 85 staff in a previous edition of this story. H Troon has continued to operate but has been forced to make redundancies in the past week due to a slow in work load. The Courier apologies for distress this has caused.
The CFMEU constriction arm remains steadfast that the construction industry remains an essential service.
"The CFMEU C&G Division Vic/Tas branch believes that it is not in the interest of the industry and its workforce for sites to be closed down partially or fully due to Covid-19, while we must all maintain public and private health standards for everyone in the community," it said it a statement.
"Building sites are operating under new regulations to ensure workers stick to social distancing guidelines.
"The biggest construction companies are splitting break times and locations as well as staggering shifts to keep works across the country running and on schedule.
"The sector employs 1.2 million people and is among the biggest provider of full-time jobs in the national economy."
Adam Drake, owner of Ballarat house building and renovating business Dracon Construction, said the coronavirus pandemic had not yet affected inquiries or jobs already lined up, but it had slowed his workflow.
"It has slowed me down a little bit, because I am a bit reluctant to start anything that is critical," he said.
"We do a lot of high end bathroom renovations. If I was to go and pull out someone's bathroom and I couldn't get the toilet or the shower base... that would put me in a bad position.
"It is not particularly that I can't get the supplies now, it is that I don't know what the next measures are in order to control this virus."
Mr Drake said he and his employee would continue working as long as it was safe, allowed and jobs continued to flow in.
"There is just so much up in the air that you don't know what your next step should be," he siad.
"That is the biggest thing for me at the moment, the uncertainty of where to place your cards.
"Apart from that, I will continue on and do what I can while it is within the parameters of the restrictions the government has put out there. If I can operate I will operate, as long as it doesn't put anyone in harm's way."
- with Rochelle Kirkham
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