VANCOUVER -- A total home renovation is usually buzzing with activity. But only two workers were on the job site at a Shakespeare Homes project on Tuesday, the company’s owner insisting they stay two metres apart to maintain physical distance.

“We’ve thinned out our job sites so that we can maintain that over multiple sites, and trying to rotate staff through that,” said Mark Cooper, who is also the president of the Homebuilders Association of Vancouver.

“If we deem a site is best suited for a maximum of three workers, then if we are asking for the plumber to come on site we’re asking them to send maybe one plumber, instead of two or three.”

Cooper has also given his crew masks to wear and installed a hand-washing sink on site.

“Its a whole new world,” he added.

Maintaining physical distancing is much easier on an empty job site like a new home build or down-to-the-studs renovation. It’s more difficult for a renovation where the homeowners are still living there, or in small spaces like a condominium.

Robert Capar’s company Maison D’être Design Build Inc. specializes in condo renovations in Vancouver. He’s had to lay off a third of his staff as homeowners delay their plans because of COVID-19.

“For those that are in their homes and not working, those are for sure the ones who have put their projects on hold,” said Capar, who is also concerned renovators may start to see permit delays and a shortage of materials. “I’m not seeing the pain ending in less than six months for companies in the renovation field."

Cooper hopes to keep his staff working on new home builds and larger renovations where the owners have moved out. “It’s not just keeping it safe for our workers, its keeping safe for their families and the families of the clients,” he said.

Some 85,000 British Columbians earn their living on home renovations and repair, and Cooper says its crucial they keep working during the pandemic.

“I am aware of some job sites where somebody’s gotten sick or at least had some very severe symptoms and they’ve had to close that job site down for several weeks,” said Cooper. “It’s really up to everybody working in the industry to follow the guidelines and make it safe for everyone, so we can all keep working.”