DHS Designates Residential Construction as ‘Essential Infrastructure Business’

Filed in Advocacy, Disaster Response, Multifamily by on March 28, 2020

In a critical win for NAHB and the residential construction sector, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) today designated construction of single-family and multifamily housing as an “Essential Infrastructure Business.”

The designation will enable many home building firms to keep their businesses open during the COVID-19 pandemic and help to stabilize the housing industry and its supply chain in the near term. More detail about the construction workers who qualify as essential can be found in both the “Public Works and Infrastructure Support Services” and “Residential/Facilities and Services” sections of the guidance.

Keep in mind that there is no mandatory federal order on what is an essential business, and many states have their own rules. Although this DHS designation is not binding to state and local governments, it does mean that there could be more workers on job sites in the coming weeks.

NAHB was at the forefront among all housing groups in calling on DHS to make this designation.

“Americans depend on a functioning residential construction sector to provide safe, affordable housing for our citizens, and this need is especially acute during this pandemic,” said NAHB Chairman Dean Mon. “Moreover, a healthy housing market is critical to maintain a sound economy. I commend DHS for heeding the urgent concerns of the housing community and taking this decisive action to assure the men and women of the industry will be able to stay on the job and serve the needs of the American people at this critical time.”

On March 26, in an effort spearheaded by NAHB, 90 companies and organizations sent a joint letter to Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Jack Wolf urging him to designate the construction of single-family and multifamily housing as an Essential Infrastructure Business.

“As cities and states issue declarations and public health orders as a result of the crisis, it is essential that communities have access to our professionals to build and maintain essential services including: building, plumbing, residential property management, rental housing operators, roofing, electrical, HVAC systems, waste/wastewater treatment plants and power generations,” the letter stated. “Home construction, including those industries listed above, should be designated as ‘essential’ because it is necessary to maintain safety, sanitation, and economic security.”

The safety and health of all those who work in construction remains our top priority. The industry continues to adhere to all public health guidelines set forth by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Working on a new unfinished home site occurs primarily outdoors and does not involve going onto a location occupied by residents or a public location, and there is minimal (if any) physical or transactional contact with customers.

Access the latest NAHB news and business resources to respond to this challenge at the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response section on nahb.org.

 

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Comments (51)

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  1. Will this apply to remodelling?

    • NAHB Now says:

      This is federal guidance only and does not supersede what your state/locality has ordered. The guidance does not specifically mention remodeling activity so it will be up to your state/locality to determine. You can check out our resources to help you work with local officials who may be considering this type of order.

  2. Frank says:

    Yeah it’s ok to be still working, although hazard pay should come into account!

  3. Todd says:

    I build post frame buildings for Walters Buildings in Wisconsin. Are we still considered essential?

  4. Lori Fleissner says:

    Let’s hope Michigan follows this and allows our construction teams to work.

    • matt butterson says:

      Is it our understanding that because the governor of Michigan has said “landscaping and home builders are not considered essential” that we are still required to stay home? Or does this article and information tell us we can work? Everything is so hazy and covered with verbiage that’s unnecessary. What do you think?

      • NAHB Now says:

        Matt, as stated in the post, this is guidance only for states/localities making their determination and does not supersede any orders from a state or locality.
        “Keep in mind that there is no mandatory federal order on what is an essential business, and many states have their own rules. This is guidance from DHS that states can follow.”

  5. Scott says:

    I’m the only bread winner in my family.. it’s only me.. self employed at that.. I need to get back to work. I work 90 % Of the Time by myself..

  6. Richard Wehrstein says:

    Thank you for stepping up to help workers and contractors in this industry. We work and have no chance to fall back on unemployment compensation. We work day to day to make a living. No company that supplies electric or food pay bills won’t easy-to-use fetched money.
    Thank-you
    Richard Wehrstein
    RW construction
    Columbus NC

  7. Tyler Freeman says:

    So in Washington state, has the declaration been changed for residential construction company’s allowed to go back to work?

    • NAHB Now says:

      As stated in the post, this is guidance only for states/localities making their determination and does not supersede any orders from a state or locality.
      “Keep in mind that there is no mandatory federal order on what is an essential business, and many states have their own rules. This is guidance from DHS that states can follow.”
      You can check our map to determine to follow if there are any changes in state orders.

    • Doug says:

      We are not supposed to work unless the structural integrity or safety of a worksite is in jeopardy.

  8. Betty Swider says:

    Does this mean your company can keep working? I hope so.

    • NAHB Now says:

      As stated in the post, this is guidance only for states/localities making their determination and does not supersede any orders from a state or locality.
      “Keep in mind that there is no mandatory federal order on what is an essential business, and many states have their own rules. This is guidance from DHS that states can follow.”
      You can check our map to determine if your state has released any orders.

  9. John C Tabor says:

    Do we need documentation to continue to work?

  10. Rob Baugher says:

    What about Remodeling?

    • NAHB Now says:

      This is federal guidance only and does not supersede what your state/locality has ordered. The guidance does not specifically mention remodeling activity so it will be up to your state/locality to determine. You can check out our resources to help you work with local officials who may be considering this type of order.

  11. Joe cottone says:

    How many people can work on a construction site at any given time?

    • NAHB Now says:

      Joe, as the post states, this is only guidance from the federal government to assist states/localities when making their determinations. This guidance does not supersede any orders that states/localities have issued. You can check out our map and click on your state to see any order that has been issued.

  12. John Hershey says:

    Does that override Governor Wolf’s classification of essential businesses

    • NAHB Now says:

      As stated in the post, this is guidance only for states/localities making their determination and does not supersede any orders from a state or locality.
      “Keep in mind that there is no mandatory federal order on what is an essential business, and many states have their own rules. This is guidance from DHS that states can follow.”

  13. Chuck Phillips says:

    Unfortunately, this is not the case in Austin, Texas. Very confusing edict only allows certain types of construction to continue and unfortunately residential construction is not one of them. Unless of course it is for the homeless or low-cost housing.

  14. David Hartley says:

    How does this relate to remodeling activity?

    • NAHB Now says:

      This is federal guidance only and does not supersede what your state/locality has ordered. The guidance does not specifically mention remodeling activity so it will be up to your state/locality to determine. You can check out our resources to help you work with local officials who may be considering this type of order.

  15. Tracy DeGlandon says:

    What about remodeling while homeowners are living in the houses ?

    • NAHB Now says:

      Tracy, as the post states, this is federal guidance only and does not supersede what your state/locality has ordered. The guidance does not specifically mention remodeling activity so it will be up to your state/locality to determine.

  16. James M Molyneux says:

    In Michigan our Governor has specifically stated our construction workers are not to be working. The only construction allowed is restoration: IE your home roof collapses and the construction company is allowed to put on a new roof. No new construction allowed.

    • Vlad says:

      It would be a good idea to contact local authorities that are in charge of enforcing the” stay at home order” in order to verify your specific type of construction/remodel service fits their definition of your States memorandum since they must have a clear idea of what they need to be enforcing.

  17. Roger Ralph says:

    We need to get back to work. Can’t wait for another month . Please keep me informed as to when we can start Thanks!

  18. Thank you NAHB for your continued hard work in representing us in the construction industry throughout the United States.

  19. Getting Residential Construction considered as “essential” with DHS is great for most of our country. We are located in Washington State where it is not considered essential. Having 2 branches of our heating business, these are scary times. Can you help us with becoming essential too?

  20. Jeff Taylor says:

    Someone From DHS needs to call Governor Wolf in PA and let him know. Building in shut down completely! I’m building a community for Ryan Homes, they have 13 homes sitting, waiting to be finished and 13 more sold that need to be started. I’m the developer, I MUST start the next phase of lots them.

  21. Sean Prouty says:

    In Washington state after saying we could work, the very next day they said we couldn’t work on residential projects. This is devastating and we are right in the middle of a project with the customer’s home in disrepair. Please help get this sorted out.

  22. I’m a specialty siding and window contractor. Please consider putting our industry on the the essential list!

  23. John halbing says:

    With this designation, does this trump the state regulations? Here in Pennsylvania our governor has deemed new construction as a non-life sustaining industry.

    • NAHB Now says:

      As stated in the post, this is guidance only for states/localities making their determination and does not supersede any orders from a state or locality.
      “Keep in mind that there is no mandatory federal order on what is an essential business, and many states have their own rules. This is guidance from DHS that states can follow.”

  24. If the workers use social distancing (stay back a minimum of 6 feet ) should work on the job site as well as everywhere else. Add hand sanitizer and masks brings safety to the project and helps the economy.

  25. Cindy Samons says:

    Hi there! We are a window company in Jacksonville, FL. We install windows and doors in new construction homes and replace windows and doors in new construction homes and existing homes that we service. Is my company ok to continue working without any laws that may deem it as Non-Essential work?

    I have my crew stocked with hand sanitizer, masks, etc……..

    Just want to be sure I do the right thing, so asking here for confirmation.

    Thanks,

    R P

    • NAHB Now says:

      Cindy, as the post states, this is federal guidance only and does not supersede what your state or locality has ordered. You can view our map to see if your state/locality has issued any orders.

  26. Shelly Powers says:

    Apparently Governor Jay Inslee didn’t get the memo here in WA state! Maybe you could send it to him again since he shut us down for building.

  27. Christopher white says:

    I’m an independent contractor. This order here in Pennsylvania is killing this state. I hope that this ruling changes minds here. Thank you for all you do.

  28. Patrick Manfredo says:

    I’m an independent roofing company in Long Island just trying to find out if we are considered an essential company so that we can continue to work all of our work is performed outside