Extended lockdown: How to manage emergency home repairs


The prospect of staying home during the lockdown may feel very different if you suddenly wake up to a flooded kitchen or an electrical fault that leaves your home with no power – and no idea of who to call, or if you can call anyone at all.

The initial lockdown regulations had made provision for private and public essential services to continue, which included critical maintenance and repair to for instance, electricity, water or gas supply. Amendments to the lockdown regulations, announced on 16 April, have brought further clarity. Home services such as electricians, plumbers, locksmiths, glaziers and roof repairs have officially been added to the list of essential services, and hardware supplies and components for emergency repairs have been added to the list of essential goods.

Finding a trusted service provider

Finding a trusted service provider for an emergency repair is a concern for many home owners at the best of times, and COVID-19 may heighten concerns about health and safety. Kandua, the largest online home services marketplace in South Africa, has over 8 000 home service providers registered on their platform covering over 50 different services – including these essential services. Arjun Khoosal, co-Founder of Kandua, notes that the platform connects qualified, vetted and reviewed home service providers to the people who need them. “Since the lockdown has started, our most requested service providers have been plumbers and electricians. We have been equipping our service providers with information on the regulations and the precautions they can take if they have to provide essential services, to protect themselves and their customers and to limit the spread of the virus. Thanks to our partners at Leroy Merlin, we have also been able  to provide some service providers with sanitizer and masks,” adds Khoosal.

Ensuring that work is done in a safe way

Kandua has been advising customers and service providers to take the right precautions to protect themselves and others, and to limit the spread of the Coronavirus. Kandua’s advice to home owners making use of essential service providers (who have the relevant permit to operate) in their homes, includes the following:

  • Avoid all physical contact, and keep at least a one metre distance between people.
  • Ensure access to handwashing facilities for all service providers, even if the repairs are outside your home. Ask service providers to wash hands with soap for 20 seconds on arrival and again before leaving.
  • Clean and disinfect work surfaces, frequently touched places (such as door handles) and tool handles before and after the work is done. Use soap and water to clean and sanitizer to disinfect. If you are low on sanitizer you can use a simple home-made bleach solution (1/2 a cup of bleach in 2 litres of water).
  • Ensure proper use of personal protective equipment, if available. Wash hands before putting on masks and gloves and avoid touching your face or the mask, even when wearing gloves.

Supporting small business

“As with all independent professionals and small businesses during this crisis, the service providers on Kandua have seen a significant decline in income,” adds Khoosal. If you want to support a local small business or an independent professional for your urgent repairs, Kandua.com is a good option. It is the largest online marketplace in South Africa for home services and connects vetted, reviewed and experienced independent artisans and small home service businesses, such as plumbers, locksmiths and electricians, with those who need their services. Service providers undergo a verification process that includes a criminal background check and authentication of references and reviews.

“We are exploring a variety of ways to support our customers and service providers during this time. We are sharing information about accessing SME relief funding with service providers, and exploring alternative income generating opportunities,” adds Khoosal.

What about DIY?

With hardware not on the essential goods list before, service providers were unable to purchase the right components if they did not have them on hand. Hardware stores will now only be open to essential services workers and not to the public, and need to keep a register confirming that purchases are done by essential services workers and for emergency repairs. 

“Spending more time at home, means seeing more things that need attention, aside from emergency repairs. We have a series of step-by-step DIY video guides from our partners at Leroy Merlin for a wide range of repairs. If you need more hands-on help, our new DIY Coach service puts you in touch with an expert to walk you through your issue over the phone. And, if you have an idea for a home renovation or improvement that can happen after the lockdown, you can still get quotes from Kandua Pros on Kandua.com,” Khoosal adds.

“Staying home as much as possible is the most important thing we can all do during this time. However, there may be work that cannot wait – urgent repairs that can affect your health or safety if they are not done,” adds Khoosal. “It is important to know that these services are still available, and that they can be done in a safe way – while adhering to the regulations set out.”