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DKAD Covid19 Procedure for Initial Consultation Service, Design Meetings and Meetings at Clients’ Homes

Covid19 and Social Distancing Procedures for Initial Consultation Service

In response to the COVID 19 pandemic, we have adopted the following procedure for the initial consultation phase. Initial consultations are conducted outside our offices, in environments which we do not control, have not previously visited and cannot assess for safety concerns. They include interactions with the public and often require long periods of interpersonal contact.

Worst Case for DKAD Work Practices

This is the part of our business which presents most risk of transmission of Covid19 and we have used this worst case scenario to establish procedures for implementing Irish Government official guidance in our work. This document is also relevant to other types of meetings and site visits in the course of architectural practice, notably: construction site visits, design meetings, site surveys and building inspections.  

Key Risks in Our Process

Having studied our initial consultation service process in detail, we have determined that the key risks of transmitting Covid19 are:

  1. Contact by DKAD staff with client property, which may be a busy home or workplace.
  2. Contact by DKAD staff with clients during a walk- through discussion of the client property, during which social distancing may not be possible or may be possible intermittently. 
  3. Prolonged interpersonal contact during the initial consultation meeting (or other design meetings).  
  4. The overall interaction typically lasts much longer than two hours, as such it is necessary to limit interpersonal contact to the meeting and walk-through parts of the service. Therefore DKAD staff should conduct surveys without the presence of the client or other parties. 

Initial Walk-through of any Client Property

  • Client property to be as well ventilated as possible in advance of and during the visit
  • Keyholders should retain the keys, and complete the process of opening and locking up. If this is not possible, materials and processes should be provided for the cleaning and safe handling of keys.  
  • Persons who are not party to the discussion should ideally not be present
  • Face coverings to be worn by all parties, as social distancing may not be possible at all times. DKAD cannot undertake to provide face coverings for attendees at all meetings as the availability of suitable products varies. 
  • Gloves to be worn by DKAD staff, on the assumption that hand washing facilities may not be available. (For example in vacant or derelict houses, or on building sites.) 
  • DKAD staff will avoid touching frequent contact surfaces such as door-handles and lightswitches, furniture or personal items.
  • Survey work (which forms part of the initial consultation service), taking measurements as required to create measured sketches, shall be done electronically.

Use of Technology to Reduce Time Spent Onsite

  • 3D scanning technology will be used where possible to record the dimensions of the building thoroughly, more quickly. 
  • 3D scanning requires a fairly clutter-free space so will only be feasible where the client property is relatively tidy and sparsely furnished.
  • It also requires an active internet connection, usually using a mobile hotspot on a mobile phone or WiFi if available in the property. It will not work if there is no mobile phone coverage for any reason. 
  • Additional software licensing charges may accrue to the client where 3D scanning is used extensively for best results; this will be in the order of €10-€20.   

Initial Consultation Meeting

  • To be conducted outdoors where possible, weather permitting or in a very well ventilated space. 
  • Any materials, papers or items to be given to DKAD staff should be sent digitally, or where this is not possible, held for a number of days without handling before the meeting, or cleaned appropriately. 
  • Persons who are not party to the design discussion should ideally not be present  
  • This meeting is effectively a design meeting and involves sketching, sharing of images on laptop PCs and other devices, as well as face to face interaction 
  • The duration of the meeting often exceeds two hours, as such it constitutes quite close physical contact.
  • In keeping with current government guidance on meetings at the time of writing, the initial consultation meeting should be limited to two hours until such time as official guidance changes. 

Use of Technology to Promote Social Distancing in the Initial Consultation Meeting

  • The initial consultation includes a “sketching session”, where we create a measured drawing, and then overlay it with different designs using freehand drawing on paper.
  • This usually happens with client and architect sitting in close proximity at a table, around an A3 size sketch board. A laptop or tablet is also used to browse images and documents from previous projects, or find information relevant to client queries from the internet.   
  • To promote social distancing, we have devised a way of using a HD webcam with a laptop to project a video image of the sketch board to a TV, if available at the meeting location. 
  • This would allow the clients to study the sketches being created, from a distance greater than 2 meters. 
  • This will require a TV with a typical HDMI connection, within 2M of a work surface suitable for sketching.   

Follow-Up Video Conference as Required

Where meeting is not possible outdoors, and social distancing measures described above cannot be implemented for whatever reason, a shorter discussion in person will be used, with the remainder of the meeting being conducted over video conferencing at a later time. 

Materials and Paper
All materials such as sketches and lists created in the meeting, if appropriate to be shared with clients, shall be shared digitally, or photographed at the end of the meeting for convenience. The physical materials shall be retained by the architect or digitally archived and destroyed.  

Undertaking to Respect Social Distancing Measures 

By forming an agreement for the initial consultation service, both client and DKAD staff undertake to implement these procedures to the best of our ability. However, should the client be aware of better or safer approaches within their property these arrangements may be varied by the parties by common consent. 

In the interest of safety, DKAD staff should terminate any meeting, site visit or other interaction which does not comply with sound practice to limit the spread of Covid19.  

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