As an essential service, construction companies here in Washington state were able to restart their work not too long after the COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns began.
However, because this industry is so closely interlinked with many others, there continue to be major problems in construction. Projects are taking longer, materials are more expensive, and some products are even simply unavailable.
In mid-October, Construction Executive magazine predicted that among the long-term changes to the industry as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic will be supply chain disruptions and longer project timeframes.
“Since the concerns over sourcing and supply chains persist,” the magazine wrote, “the construction industry will likely seek permanent domestic suppliers and seek to maintain larger inventories of critical materials and long-lead times to guard against similar disruptions and related delays in the future.”
We can expect to have to wait longer for products while suppliers sort out their sourcing, and of course we can expect higher prices, too, with that shift to domestic production.
Here at Hudson Remodeling, we’ve been seeing delays and shortages among our appliance vendors, and prices of some building materials have skyrocketed. For example, the price of oriented strand board — an important component of many home construction and remodeling projects — has doubled in just the past couple of months.
In an August survey, Construction Executive found that 85 percent of contractors were experiencing delayed or canceled projects, and seven in 10 felt that the industry wouldn’t rebound until 2021. Appliance shortages — caused by pandemic hoarding, difficulties in estimating demand and many more factors — also could last into 2021, though manufacturers are ramping up to meet increased demand. So far, about half of the contractors surveyed by the Association of General Contractors have been warned by suppliers to expect late or cancelled deliveries.
There is plenty of good news, however. For one thing, new home sales are up. Another great piece of news is that, according to the contractors surveyed by CE, the pandemic is likely to stimulate interest in construction training programs, potentially leading to an even more robust and thriving industry in the future.
For now, however, the pandemic continues to cause problems with aspects of construction and remodeling. Some prices are up, and some products are delayed.
As time rolls by, lockdowns will be lifted and supply chains will adapt to the “new normal.” As that happens, we expect that the situation in the construction industry will continue to improve.