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Is It Safe to Hire a Contractor During the COVID-19 Outbreak?

[Updated: Jan 21, 2021 ] Apr 02, 2020 by Maurie Backman
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Some home projects are easy to accomplish yourself, like painting or even, if you're reasonably handy, putting in tile. But if you're looking at a job that's complex or potentially dangerous if done incorrectly (think changing out wiring), then you're better off hiring a contractor who knows what he or she is doing -- and is licensed to boot.

Under normal circumstances, bringing a contractor into your home is generally no big deal. But right now, we're not dealing with normal circumstances; we're grappling with a major health crisis that's already turned life as we know it upside down. As such, you may want to think twice before hiring a contractor at this point in time -- but that doesn't mean you need to postpone all of the home projects you need to get done.

Stick to outdoor work

Having a contractor spend hours in your kitchen or living room probably isn't the best idea right now, but if you have exterior work on your radar, there are ways you can hire someone without exposing yourself to potential germs. For example, if you need a landscaper to reseed your lawn, a repair person to fix loose shingles on your roof, or a service to clean out your gutters, these are all projects that don't require an outside person to actually step foot inside your home.

As such, there's no reason you can't have a contractor drive up to your property, talk to you outdoors from a distance, do the work at hand, and leave a bill in your mailbox before departing. From there, you can pay that bill from the safety of home without having to come into contact with anyone.

What if you have an emergency indoor job?

Hiring someone for outdoor work is fairly low risk these days, but what if you need a job tackled inside your home that you can't put off? For example, if a pipe comes loose or bursts and you need to shut your water off until it's repaired, that's hardly a setup you can live with for weeks or months.

If you're stuck with an emergency repair, there are some precautions you can take to bring in a contractor when you need to. First, when you call to check on availability, make sure the person who might come to your home isn't experiencing any questionable symptoms. Err on the side of paranoia, and if that contractor can't stop coughing during that conversation, politely move on. Next, ask your contractor to wear shoe covers once he or she enters your home so germs (and dirt) aren't dragged everywhere.

Once that contractor is in your home, stay at least six feet away as he or she outlines the scope of the work. Then, step away and let your contractor do the job at hand. If the bill for the service in question needs to be paid on the spot, have your contractor read you your total out loud. Then, in a separate area, write out a check and stick it in your mailbox for your contractor to grab on his or her way out. If you need to pay by credit card, aim to not touch your contractor's hand directly as you hand it over to be swiped. Then, wipe your credit card down with disinfectant before placing it back in your wallet.

Once your contractor leaves, aim to disinfect every surface he or she may have touched. And then thoroughly wash your hands with soap for at least 20 seconds.

Now's really not the time to invite a contractor into your home, so only do so if there's a pressing reason. On the other hand, you don't need to shy away from hiring someone for exterior work. In fact, now may be an optimal time to do that, before the weather gets unbearably hot.

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