by Bill Ward, Executive Vice President Home Builders Association of Illinois
Illinois will be a “Stay At Home” state beginning March 21, 2020 at 5 pm. Governor J.B. Pritzker issued his 10th Executive Order of 2020 on March 20th in response to the COVID-19 outbreak that has already claimed 5 lives in Illinois in the short time that it has been apparent in Illinois. 585 cases were recorded on March 20, 2020 as well.

An Executive Order serves as state law in the absence of a state statute or a constitutional requirement addressing the same matter.    Illinoisans are hereby ordered “Stay at home or place of residence…with exceptions as outlined below (section 1, paragraph 1).  Section 9 of the Executive Order addresses “Essential Infrastructure.” This part of the Order allows individuals to leave their residence to provide any services or perform any work necessary to offer, provision, operate, maintain, and repair Essential Infrastructure.

The second paragraph defines Essential Infrastructure, it is a long list and includes housing construction as essential.  The last paragraph states that “Essential Infrastructure shall be construed broadly to avoid any impacts to essential infrastructure, broadly defined.

So, what this means is that we are still in business and you can also interpret that to mean that your material providers, subcontractors, and others services needed in the course of providing housing construction, repair, and remodeling should stay open, too.

But none of this will do us any good unless local governments keep open their building departments to do inspections on new construction, repair, and remodeling. To this end, we need to read and understand Section 10: “Essential Government Functions.”  Paragraph 1 of Section 10 lists the Essential Government Functions. The paragraph does not state “Building Departments” but does say that personnel for housing and shelter are essential.

Section 10 also states that local government employees working for or to support Essential Businesses and Operations are categorically exempt from this Executive Order (to stay at home).

To find out if we are an essential business or operation, we need to go to Section 12: “Essential Businesses and Operations.”
Section 12 lists the Essential Businesses and Operations needed to be exempt from the Executive Order to “Stay at Home.”
Paragraph “f” allows lending institutions, title companies and other institutions selling financial products to stay open.
Paragraph “g” allows hardware stores and businesses that sell electrical, plumbing, and heating material to stay open.
Paragraph “h” allows critical trades to stay open including: Building and Construction Tradesmen and Tradeswomen, and other trades including but not limited to plumbers, electricians, exterminators, cleaning and janitorial staff for commercial and governmental properties, security staff, operating engineers, HVAC, painting, moving and relocation services, and other service providers who provide services that are necessary to maintaining the safety, sanitation, and essential operation of residences, Essential Activities, Essential Businesses and Operations.

And, if you are still cynical that we are still in business, maybe it would be comforting to note that bicycle, pawn, and cannabis shops are deemed essential, too!

But our work is not done; word now needs to get out to our municipal officials that home construction, remodeling and repair is essential and the building departments at the city and county levels must stay open and functioning all of the duties required to permit construction and occupancy.

Our local association executives and state board members are already communicating with building departments and most of the news has been good. Building departments are open and are requesting that you clean up and clear out prior to them entering the worksite.

At this time, I know of only one building department that has shut down, that is the city of Springfield. HBAI Past President, Dean Graven, is working now with city officials to reverse this unilateral decision made by the head of the department.

Below is a link to the Executive Order for you to read, if you have any questions or concerns, please call my cellphone at (217) 494-8143 or write me at for more information. As it turns out, registered state lobbyists are not essential and must stay home!

Please see Executive Order from Governor Pritzker’s office dated, 3.20.2020 for additional information.