What the new normal means for self-builders in Ireland

From virtual consultations to appointment-only showroom visits, here’s how the self-build industry in Ireland has adapted to deal with COVID-19.

At the height of the coronavirus lockdown, the majority of self-builders were either planning the next stage of their project, working with materials they had on site or doing landscaping.

That’s according to a poll we ran on the SelfBuilders & Home Improvers Ireland Facebook group.

The reason self-builders have had to cut back on their efforts was due to many businesses temporarily closing their doors.

And even though most remained open for phone consultations and quotations, deliveries and pickup of materials were suspended in most cases.

Now that we are in the first phase of the lifting of government restrictions in NI and ROI, here is an update of where the marketplace stands, with the 8th of June the next phase of lifting of restrictions in both jurisdictions:

Bathroom retailers. Soaks is currently open by appointment only to abide to social distancing measures. The Sonas showroom, meanwhile, has been closed and will reopen on the 8th June as part of ROI’s lifting of restrictions in Phase 2. During the lockdown Sonas moved their showroom consultations online with live product demonstrations, replicating the normal physical experience.

Sonja at Sonas Bathrooms on a virtual showroom call

Building materials. Roofing and stone suplier Lagan Building Solutions is offering pre-arranged no contact collections and deliveries from a safe distance, Zoom and WhatsApp video calls for consultations, plus socially distanced site visits.

Similarly roofing and cladding suppliers Tegral and Cedral can now safely visit your site, with their staff having undergone full training for on site health and safety. Delivery of samples are also possible, and local advisors are available over the phone, email or by video call.

Insulation supplier Xtratherm has launched remote support services along with their external online learning for self-builders, architects, and specifiers. The team has a new immediate callback service, live webinars and online learning.

Meanwhile, paving and walling supplier Tobermore has reopened its paving centres in Tobermore, Bangor, Dublin and Cork; a virtual design service will be available in the coming weeks through their website.

Gas. As a provider of essential services, Flogas ROI and Flogas NI are operating as normal through their customer support centres in Drogheda and Belfast for LPG, natural gas and electricity. You can still get their offer of 1,200 litres free LPG when switching from oil to gas.

Glazing. If you are looking for roof lights, know that Velux is still manufacturing to ensure they have plenty of stock to make deliveries; you can contact their customer service by phone or email. Eco Window Concepts Ltd., suppliers of Internorm and Solarlux, are also now open but all showroom visits are by appointment only.

Heating and hot water. Pipelife products are now available for pickup but you will have to stay in your car and an employee will come out to you; other coronavirus specific procedures include employees having to wear face masks, sanitisation stations around the factory, etc. Meanwhile the Grant technical team is currently working remotely from home providing technical support and their free of charge home heating design service.

Insurance and warranties. The team at Self Build Zone is working from home but operating as normal; it’s worth remembering that site insurance covers you for the whole build, including new and existing structures as well as tools, whether or not you or your trades are on site.

Ventilation. The BEAM installation and distribution teams have now returned to work, adhering to all social distancing rules on site; the office is also open for customers to call and collect materials with social distancing rules, and is open remotely for enquiries, quotations, specifying systems and talking through proposals by phone or video calls where possible. Stores have continued to dispatch orders and materials daily with little disruption.

 


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Written by Astrid Madsen

Astrid Madsen is the editor of SelfBuild & Improve Your Home magazine. She previously held the same role in an Irish trade publication, before that she worked at the National Standards Authority of Ireland. She graduated with a BA in Urban Studies from Columbia University in New York and holds an MBA from the Instituto de Estudios Bursatiles in Madrid. France of origin, she now lives in Portarlington, County Laois, where she's taken on the task of renovating a listed building! Email astrid.madsen@selfbuild.ie

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