What does Wisconsin’s Safer At Home Order Mean For The Home Building Industry?

March 24, 2020

The Order creates a clear mandate for all residents to stay at home. However, it also creates a number of broad exceptions that apply to home builders, trades, and suppliers. The order is effective from 8 a.m. Wednesday, March 25th until 8 a.m., April 24th.

Stay at Home

At its core, the Order requires all individuals living in Wisconsin to stay at home.

Exceptions For Home Construction

Based on the Essential Infrastructure and the Essential Businesses exceptions, home construction can continue in Wisconsin under the Order including, real estate services, the trades, and building supply companies.

NOTE: All business that are Essential Businesses and Operations shall meet Social Distancing Requirements between all individuals on the premises to the extent possible. Essential Businesses and Operations shall, to the greatest extent possible, use technology to avoid meeting in person, including virtual meetings, teleconferences, and remote work from home. See the end of the articles for these requirements.

Essential Infrastructure

This exception will allow people to leave their residence to provide any services or perform any work necessary to offer, provide, operate, maintain and repair Essential Infrastructure. Essential Infrastructure includes the following (this is not a complete list):

  • Housing construction;
  • Construction required in response to this public health emergency, hospital construction, construction of long-term care facilities, public works construction, school construction, essential business construction;
  • Building management and maintenance; and
  • Roads and highways.

Further, the Order makes clear that “Essential Infrastructure” shall be construed broadly to avoid any impacts to essential infrastructure.

Essential Businesses

In addition to the Essential Infrastructure exception, there is an exception for Essential Businesses. A person can leave home to perform work providing essential products and services at Essential Businesses or Operations. Essential Businesses include (summaries – see Order for complete descriptions):

  • Hardware and supply stores. Hardware stores and business that sell electrical, plumbing, heating, and construction material.
  • Critical Trades. Building and Construction Tradesmen and Tradeswomen, and other trades including but not limited to plumbers, electricians, carpenters, laborers, sheet metal, iron workers, masonry, pipe trades, fabricators, finishers, cleaning and janitorial staff for commercial and governmental properties, security staff, operating engineers, HVAC, painting, moving and relocation services, and other service providers who provide services that are necessary to maintaining the safety, sanitation, and essential operation of residences, and Essential Businesses and Operations.
  • Supplies for Essential Businesses and Operations. Businesses that sell, manufacture, or supply other Essential Businesses and Operations with the support or materials necessary to carry out their operations.
  • Financial and Insurance Institutions. This includes banks, credit unions, and other lending services.
  • Professional Services such as legal or accounting services, insurance services, real estate services (including appraisal, home inspection, and title services). These services shall, to the greatest extent possible, use technology to avoid meeting in person, including virtual meetings, teleconference, and remote work (i.e., work from home).
  • Essential Governmental Functions. This exception includes governmental employees working for or to support Essential Business and Operations, which would allow municipalities to conduct inspections.

In the Order, Governor Evers encourages all Essential Businesses and Operations to remain open. Essential Businesses and Operations shall, to the greatest extent possible, ensure that both employees and members of the public are maintaining six-foot social distancing, including but not limited to when any customers are standing in line.

When taking any action permitted under this Order, all individuals, organizations, government bodies, and any other permitted group of individuals shall, to the extent possible, follow DHS guidelines located here: https://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/covid-19/index.htm. All Essential Businesses and Operations and all businesses performing Minimum Basic Operations shall comply with DHS guidelines for businesses located here: https://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/covid-19/employers.htm.