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Lockdown advice published on home maintenance and servicing work

By Alan Beresford

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NEW advice has been issued to households across Scotland to help answer questions over whether maintenance or servicing work can still be carried out in the home during the Covid-19 lockdown.

OFTEC's Malcolm Farrow.
OFTEC's Malcolm Farrow.

According to a survey conducted before the pandemic, over half of UK homeowners were planning to have work completed on their property during 2020, at a total cost of £55 billion.

Many households may now be asking whether their plans can still go ahead in the current climate and, in response, OFTEC, the registration body for off-grid heating work, has answered some of the most common questions to help homeowners in Scotland comply with government advice and stay safe.

These include:

  • Can work continue in my home? Repair and maintenance work can be carried out by a tradesperson providing no one in your, or the tradesperson’s, family are showing any Covid-19 symptoms. However, two metre social distancing rules must be followed and regular handwashing is recommended. It may also be worth considering whether it may be better to postpone ‘non-essential work’. OFTEC has advised technicians to undertake additional risk assessments and many businesses have signalled that they will only carry out emergency work.
  • Are there circumstances when work must not be carried out in my home? Work should not be carried out in households where occupants are self-isolating or being ‘shielded’. If there is an urgent need to address a direct risk to those living in the property, such as emergency plumbing or repair work, this can go ahead if the tradesperson is willing to do so. Additional precautions may also need to be put in place.
  • If it is safe to carry out work in my home, what should I expect?
  • Many tradespeople have introduced additional precautionary measures and it is important to follow these carefully. They may include: Asking you to stay in a separate room whilst the work is completed; Requesting doors and windows are open to increase ventilation; Adapting payment methods e.g. no paper invoices or cash payments; Wearing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE); Regularly washing their hands and bringing their own towel; Declining refreshments.
  • Can I still have heating oil delivered? Yes. There are 135,000 households in Scotland who rely on oil to heat their homes and, fortunately, the price of oil has plummeted which is a welcome relief when many incomes have been reduced. However, delivery times may be slightly longer than normal so regularly check your oil level to ensure you don’t run out. Some oil delivery firms are prioritising vulnerable households so ask your provider if you fall into this category. More information is available from the liquid fuel distribution trade association’s website.

Malcolm Farrow of OFTEC, commented: “It is a very unsettling time for many households and there is a lot of confusion about tradespeople working in homes.

"The government advice is regularly being updated so ensure you check their website for the latest information.

“Most tradespeople are also introducing new safety measures as a precaution for both your and their benefit so don’t take it personally if they change the way they work. If you have any questions or concerns, don’t hesitate to raise them with the tradesperson.

"Remember, always ask to see an ID badge to check their credentials such as whether they are OFTEC (for oil and solid fuel) or GasSafe (for mains gas) registered. This will ensure the work is completed safely and to a high standard.”

More information and advice is available on the OFTEC website.

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