COVID Impacts on the Construction Industry

We’re sure that most people are experiencing the same fatigue around the topic of Covid-19 by this time and the staff at Advanced Restorations are no different. However, Covid-19 presented some unforeseen problems in the construction industry, many that are still present today and are worth discussing.

As the pandemic started and many areas were going into some form of “lockdown”, there was a lot of uncertainty on how the construction industry would be treated. Would construction be considered “essential”? Would homeowners still want to pursue repairs to their homes in uncertain times? As it turns out, construction was deemed essential in most areas and an overwhelming number of homeowners did pursue restoration projects (many hiring contractors and many choosing the DIY route due to being stuck at home for extended periods of time).

This combination of things lead to some very interesting challenges for homeowners and general contractors alike:

Material Availability:

As many homeowners quickly found out, building materials of all types became difficult to source. With so many manufacturing companies unable to operate, we saw shortages of nearly everything. This included asphalt shingles, vinyl siding, and various bits of lumber.

For items like asphalt shingles, the availability of various products and colors within those products became hit and miss for all contractors. It became a standard process for our Field Supervisors to plan with our customers for two or three potential color options during their shingle selection process because there was no guarantee that any one color would be available when their project was beginning.

The same could be said for vinyl siding products – manufacturers could not give timetables for when they expected certain colors to be available and homeowners were often making two or three choices before finding something that was in stock and ready for installation.

One somewhat surprising and unexpected shortage came in the form of replacement garage door panels. Dependent upon style, suppliers of those items have quoted turn around times as long as three to four months before they can be expected back in stock – this continues to present day with the expectation that it will continue for quite some time.

Additionally, many manufacturers have indefinitely suspended production on many lines as they expected lower demands, lower availability of raw materials, and lower levels of workforce available. To this day, many of those product lines have no timetable for their return.

Staffing:

Many business were forced to temporarily close their doors (and unfortunately, some were forced to do so permanently) and this lead to an influx of unemployed workers; but as things return to some level of normalcy, we don’t see that same workforce level returning quickly to open employment.

Obviously, everyone has seen the recent job ads for their city – likely, those ads are much the same in every city: companies offering higher wages and large sign-on bonuses because they’re unable to fill open positions. Manufacturing companies dealt with these issues, food service companies dealt with these issues, and Advanced Restorations was no different. As a growing company, we’re always in the process of adding additional office staff and Field Supervisors to continue to allow us to serve our community. Hiring new employees continues to be a struggle today and we expect that struggle to continue for the foreseeable future.

Business Practices:

Since it’s beginning, Advanced Restorations prided itself more on “word of mouth” recommendations from existing customers in order to drive our business. As we’re members of the community that we’re working in, we always preferred to meet new potential customers on a face-to-face basis and allow our customer service to speak for us. However, with Covid-19, face-to-face meetings have become very limited. As a company, this allowed us to branch out into new areas – including advertisements and additional interaction using social media. As a precaution, we continue to offer no-contact inspections for homeowners and have expanded our facilities to allow for 100% electronic documentation.

Pricing:

Price increases have been the ugliest complication from Covid-19 to date. While no one wants to openly discuss them, everyone is feeling the impact. Basic groceries, construction materials, and even labor have seen massive increases through this time. For instance, building materials like ⅝” roof sheathing quickly quadrupled in price compared to pre-Covid numbers.

Work Environment:

Another challenge of Covid-19 is making sure all employees are able to work in a safe environment. In the case of Advanced Restorations, this meant making our systems fully mobile – allowing for any employees to work virtually in the event of potential exposures. This has also allowed for greater flexibility in general for employees, allowing opportunities for hybrid work schedules and in some cases, full time telecommuting positions.

As we move towards 2022, Advanced Restorations expects many of these issues to continue to have impacts not only for us but for our customers as well. We plan to continue to monitor those impacts and adjust our processes as needed to ensure our customers receive the best service possible.

If you’re contemplating projects for your property, call our office today at (417) 229-0667 and schedule time with one of our caring Field Supervisors! Also, if you have any Covid-19 concerns, be sure to request a no-contact visit!