Residential Building Declared 'Essential,' But States' Rules Differ

March 30, 2020
builder on with roof framing and trusses
By Tomasz Zajda

In the midst of this chaotic time, NAHB has news that will ease at least one worry on many builders' minds: The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) just designated construction of single-family and multifamily housing as an “Essential Infrastructure Business.” This means that most home building firms can keep their companies open when the local government closes all but “essential business.” This is especially critical because many contractors are not covered by unemployment benefits. But builders should still keep up with local rulings. Although the DHS made the guideline, states can develop their own standards for what businesses can or cannot continue during the coronavirus pandemic. 

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. This is guidance from DHS that states can follow. Therefore, in states where only essential businesses are allowed to keep operations going during the coronavirus epidemic, residential construction workers should continue to be allowed to stay on the job.

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