In most states, home builders have stayed on the job throughout the period of stay-at-home orders. In a few states, home building and remodeling have been shut down along with other industries. But even in states where building has continued, there have been restrictions on jobsite practices the whole time: social distancing rules, mask requirements, and procedural standards. Now as states gradually reopen their economies, home building is leading the way — but with restrictions in place.

In a YouTube address to Vermont builders, Vermont Builders and Remodelers Association President Jim Bradley pointed out that contractors have an opportunity to earn a good reputation with policymakers, and protect the industry's status as an essential industry. That could become particularly important if, as some experts expect, COVID-19 cases experience an upsurge as the states' economies restart.

"If we do perform well as an industry and we follow the proper precautions," said Bradley, "and should there be spikes of some measure in the infection rate of COVID, the governor has already said that he doesn't plan to just immediately shut us down. He has said that what he is willing to do is to allow us to maintain, as long as we are following these protocols, even if the spikes are not caused by us, he's saying we can still stay at work, but if he sees that the hospitals still have the capacity to handle things appropriately, and that the spike does not get out of control, we should be able to stay at work."

What if the virus bounces back in the fall and winter? Bradley said, "It has been theorized that it is possible that this coming fall or even winter that this could return again and could be even more virulent. If that's the case, and we follow things appropriately now, and are well trained on how to protect those around us and ourselves as well, and work appropriately and safely, then it is hoped that we would not be shut down in the future."