DHS Designation for Home Building as ‘Essential’ is Not Mandatory


As NAHBNow previously reported, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) on March 28 designated construction of single-family and multifamily housing as an “Essential Infrastructure Business.” Although the original post noted that this designation was not mandatory, there has been some confusion on what exactly it means.

The DHS states that its “designation is advisory in nature. It is not, nor should it be considered, a federal directive or standard. Additionally, this advisory list is not intended to be the exclusive list of critical infrastructure sectors, workers, and functions that should continue during the COVID-19 response across all jurisdictions. Individual jurisdictions should add or subtract essential workforce categories based on their own requirements and discretion.”

In other words, there is no mandatory federal order on what constitutes an essential business. This is guidance from DHS that individual states may follow. Many states have implemented their own rules in determining what type of business is considered essential. This advisory does not superseded state rulings.

However, the DHS designation for residential construction as an essential business is still very good news for our industry. For states that follow federal guidance in determining an Essential Infrastructure Business, single-family and multifamily construction will be included. For states that make their own rules, there is a possibility that residential construction may not be on their “essential” list.

NAHB will continue to keep you updated on all new developments and we continue to urge all states to adopt the DHS designation list for Essential Infrastructure Business during this outbreak.

To help members determine where builders can stay on the job, NAHB has created a map detailing which states and municipalities have enacted orders that may impact builders.

As many construction workers across the nation continue to stay on the job, their safety and health remains our top priority. The industry continues to adhere to all public health guidelines set forth by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the Centers for Disease Control. Working on a new unfinished home site occurs primarily outdoors and does not involve going onto a location occupied by residents or a public location, and there is minimal (if any) physical or transactional contact with customers. If work does continue on home building sites, NAHB urges members to follow job site coronavirus safety guidance recently published by the Construction Industry Safety Coalition (of which NAHB is a key member).

You can access the latest NAHB news and business resources to respond to this challenge at the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response section on nahb.org.

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