50 SHADES OF CONSTRUCTION – What Is and Isn’t “Essential” Construction Might Be A Little More Gray Than You Thought.

When Florida’s governor issued his stay at home order, it contained a carve out designating construction as an essential service. Since the order’s debut, many have embraced the construction carve out as allowing any and all construction. Alas, the devil may be in the details, more specifically, the building department interpreting those details to decide whether a construction project is really “essential.” A new project not yet started vs. a project already underway. A plumbing upgrade for grandma who needs a walk-in tub vs. adding an extra bathroom. A re-roof or installing a new dormer window. A permit application to repair structural damage vs. a permit to build a free standing garage with a bonus man-cave on top.

For those of you that haven’t already committed the governor’s “construction carve out” to memory, pertinent provisions from the governor’s order include:


So does the foregoing mean a green light for anything under the construction sun?  Not so fast, according to some local officials.

As recently reported in the South Florida Sun Sentinel, https://www.sun-sentinel.com/coronavirus/fl-ne-coronavirus-construction-workers-20200410-okgqgbimavghlkz6coi74lryka-story.html, places like Coconut Creek are allowing reroof jobs to move forward but it has suspended some interior improvements. Fort Lauderdale is likewise not allowing construction on occupied buildings unless the work involves what the department deems a “necessary” repair. So what does your local building department think? You might want to call and find out. Doing so could help avoid expensive confusion courtesy of a stop work order or a fine –  or worse, a love note from your local or state licensing board. End game, the language is arguably open to interpretation and a call to your local building department can quickly vet whether your project will pass the “essential” sniff test.

A full copy of the governor’s executive order defining construction related services as essential can be viewed at https://www.flgov.com/wp-content/uploads/orders/2020/EO_20-91-compressed.pdf

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