Six questions to ask before allowing a contractor into your home during the COVID-19 pandemic

A multitude of services, from plumbing repairs to internet installation, have traditionally been done by someone coming into your home. That need has not changed during the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s good that these services are still available, but having a stranger in your home is more worrisome than ever. It’s important that these services be done safely, so here are six questions to ask a business before scheduling a contractor.

  1. Can you deliver a self-service kit? Some things you can do yourself -- with the right equipment and guidance. A self-service kit or some preparation on your part could reduce or even eliminate the need for a company worker to come into your home..If they have a kit for customers, make sure they include a step-by-step guide. And ask what hours customer service is available by phone or online chat. 

  2. Do you prohibit employees from working if they’re sick or experiencing COVID-19 symptoms? The bare minimum: You should expect that anyone who enters your home is not sick or showing potential coronavirus symptoms. If the business does not require sick employees to stay home, hire someone else. Try to find a company that requires employees to pass temperature checks every day.

  3. Do you require employees to wear masks when going into someone’s home? If not, find another company that does mandate masks. Many states require masks in public; even in states that don’t, some businesses require them. If you can’t find a vendor that requires them all of the time (say you’re locked into your existing internet/cable provider), ask whether the worker who comes to your home will agree to wear a mask. (And get the name of the person who books your appointment.) In addition, anyone who lives in the home also should wear a mask if they could be in the same room with the contractor at any point.

  4. Do employees have their own hand sanitizer to use before and after jobs? If not, offer them hand sanitizer or a sink to wash their hands. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises everyone to wash their hands frequently. This includes any contractor before they enter your home.

  5. What do you require from me? Some companies may require you to do some things to facilitate safe interactions. That may involve providing clear access to the cable box or modem, or unplugging an appliance to be repaired ahead of time. Will they need access to your garage attic? If so, maybe you need to pull your car out of the garage ahead of time. Do you have a pet? If so, what parts of your home will they need access to, so you can put your pet in another area? If they need something, it is best to have that ready before the contractor arrives, to minimize interactions.

  6. Is there contactless billing? Find out whether the bill can be sent to your email or phone to be paid later, or whether you can find the bill by logging into a website. Some businesses have sections of their websites that are dedicated to billing. Billing and payment could also be done through an app such as Venmo or Cash App, if you have one of those accounts. It’s an easy way to reduce in-person contact.