It makes sense for construction businesses to down tools over the Christmas holiday period. Many suppliers, subcontractors and manufacturers are also closed. And generally there is a shortage of supplies and workers during this period.
Here are some things you should do to get ready for the Christmas shutdown period.
Tell your clients you’ll be taking a break over Christmas
Many builders and tradies will be under pressure from clients wanting their renovation or construction projects completed before Christmas. The lead-up to Christmas can be very stressful for builders and tradies.
Telling your clients that you will not be working over the holiday period may seem obvious, but for clients building or renovating their home, probably for the first and only time, they may assume that you work through the Christmas shutdown period.
Most court cases we get involved in start with a moment of misunderstanding, someone’s expectations not being met or a breakdown in communication. We’ve written another blog post on how to avoid being sued, which you can read by clicking here.
Make sure you tell your clients the dates you will be closed, the reasons for the shut down and when you will be starting back on their project.
Secure your building sites
Sadly, robberies and vandalism on building sites are common over the Christmas shutdown period.
Some things you can do to secure your building sites include –
- installing lights on the site;
- locking gates and access points;
- turning the power off;
- removing scaffolding;
- removing materials and chemicals;
- installing cameras or alarms;
- storing anything valuable in shipping containers; and
- building a perimeter fence.
Submit extension of time claims
If a building project will be delayed due to the Christmas shutdown period, then builders and tradies must review their contracts and follow the process in the contract itself for claiming an extension of time.
Some contracts will have restrictions on when extensions of time can be claimed.
Have a process for dealing with payment claims
Most tradies and builders would have heard of the Building and Construction Industry Payments Act 2004 (Qld). From 17 December 2018, this legislation will no longer exist. It’s being replaced by the Building Industry Fairness (Security of Payment) Act 2017 (Qld).
Under the old system, payment claims were easily identified. Invoices had to include a statement that said, “this is payment claim made under the Building and Construction Industry Payments Act 2004 (Qld)”.
From 17 December 2018, invoices will no longer need to include statement before someone can lodge an adjudication application if they are not paid.
All construction business should be reviewing and updating their processes and training their staff on how to recognise payment claims, when payment disputes need to be escalated and how to comply with time frames.
Check construction industry awards
Some construction industry awards allow construction businesses to require employees to take annual leave during the holiday shutdown period. Construction business owners should check their award carefully for details about shut down provisions. Some awards may have special requirements and conditions that must be fulfilled before enforcing a business shutdown.
The upside of the holiday shutdown period is this time can be used to lock-in new contracts ready for the New Year. It is also a great time to plan projects before building commences after the Christmas break. Materials and workers should be lined up and ready to go.
Do you need some help planning for the Christmas shutdown period? Our Dispute Resolution and Litigation Team would love to help you through it. Get in touch with them by clicking here.
We wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year.