Can Florida Construction Sites Remain Open During the COVID-19 Pandemic?
The Miami-Dade order specifically declares “[c]ontractors and other tradesmen,” as well as “[o]pen construction sites, irrespective of the type of building,” to be “essential” services that can remain open during the COVID-19 emergency. Additionally, businesses that provide “support or supplies necessary to operate” for contractors and construction sites can remain open, provided they do not “interact with the general public.” So at least as far as the state is concerned, Florida construction sites can remain open–for now.
Palm Beach Announces Emergency Changes to Inspection, Permitting Process
Individual Florida counties, however, may alter their building and construction policies to conform to the “social distancing” standards advised by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. For example, Palm Beach County’s Building Division issued new guidance to “all construction industry stakeholders” in a March 30 memorandum. The Division said it would continue to provide “essential services,” albeit under certain restrictions.
Here is a brief overview of the changes implemented by Palm Beach County for the duration of the COVID-19 emergency:
- Field inspection staff will now report directly to job sites in the morning, rather than the Building Division’s office.
- Customers should access the Division’s online system after 8 a.m. each morning to learn which inspector will be inspecting their job site on the day; customers should text their inspector directly if they need to speak with them.
- The Building Division will not accept “walk-in” customers for meetings with inspectors or plan examiners; customers should directly contact the appropriate staff member with any questions regarding a failed inspection or plan review comments.
- Any completion agreements or waiver forms should be submitted directly to a field inspector at the time of inspection–these forms should not be sent to the Building Division office.
- Requests for Certificates of Completion, Certificates of Occupancy, general Inspections, Permit Renewals, or requests to close inactive permits, must be submitted via email; the Division will not accept any of these requests in-person.
- The Building Division will now allow HVAC w/ductwork permits and all accessory structure permits to be filed online.
Contact a Florida Construction Lawyer Today for the Latest Legal Developments
This is an uncertain time for everyone. If you are a contractor or subcontractor, you may have questions about whether it makes legal sense to continue on a project. Inconsistent guidance from state and local authorities only makes such decisions more difficult. If you need advice on the current state of the law and how it applies to you, please contact the experienced Florida construction attorneys Linkhorst & Hockin, P.A., today. Our staff is currently working remotely, and we can offer meetings and consultations through remote means.