Shelter-in-place Breakthrough

Contractors relieved as home improvement resumes under new COVID-19 regulations
Fridays on the Homefront
Construction is back on—and that move has gotten most home-improvement professionals to rejoice about the recent loosening of the Bay Area's stay-in-place order for service companies. However, things are still far from business as usual. Some contractors, like the masked man above, find themselves throwing up their hands in frustration in the midst of the slowly evolving process.

Shelter-in-place orders to slow spread of the COVID-19 virus have put a bad hit on many industries, and so the recent news that all types of construction projects can resume has been greeted with relief and enthusiasm by designers and contractors statewide.

"Construction's back on, which is great: we can get back out to jobsites," rejoiced John Klopf, the namesake and principal of San Francisco-based Klopf Architecture, adding, "It makes a big difference."

Of course, things are still far from business as usual, as each sector of the industry figures out how to resume or expand work under the latest version of the order, which took effect May 4.

Fridays on the Homefront

Klopf and other sources in the industry were candid when queried about what they have and haven't been allowed to do since the first shelter-in-place order was issued by six Bay Area counties March 16 and adopted statewide three days later.

"I've had to come up with a way to have virtual meetings," acknowledged Tiffany Truong, chief operating officer of Keycon Construction and Design, a Mountain View-based firm that, like Klopf, works extensively on remodeling Eichler homes.

Both Klopf and Keycon have been more fortunate than some in the industry in that they were able to continue work on numerous projects in March and April for a variety of reasons.

Fridays on the Homefront
Architect John Klopf: "The truth is, some of these remote practices are better [than how it was before]." Photo: David Toerge

"We are a company that's being proactive about these issues," said company owner and founder Ron Key, referring to Truong when he added, "She's really up to speed on all that."

"We have a few jobs that we've still been able to work through," said Truong, noting that unfinished projects that pose potential safety hazards have been allowed to continue with restrictions throughout the succession of shelter-in-place orders, "at least [to] put a roof on and windows so it's weathertight."

"One of the things about architecture," said Klopf, noting that sometimes "we're not really required to leave the office."