How do you adapt commercial building in this post COVID environment? Being a commercial building contractor, we have figured out some general thoughtful advice for others in what to expect since COVID hit. First, it has affected everything when it hit and shut down a lot of businesses, schools, factories, etc. Thankfully, they came up with vaccines to help slow the spread and destruction it has caused. However, things are currently not back to their original self and may never be. But there are things people are having to do to deal with the ever-changing situation. So, I have listed some key points of advice to help deal with commercial building during this post COVID time.
- BE FLEXIBLE ON TIME AND MATERIAL CHOICES IF POSSIBLE. There continues to be manufacturer delay after delay. Which those delays may hold up and delay other items from being installed. Also, look for short lead time items, sometimes they will work in place of something originally spec’d. SO, THE BEST SOLUTION IS TO BE FLEXIBLE ON TIME ALLOTED AND MATERIAL SELECTIONS.
- CHECK AROUND MULTIPLE HARDWARE/APPLIANCE/SUPPLIER STORES FOR PRODUCTS YOU WILL NEED. There are shortages from paint, to steel, to aluminum, etc. There are a lot of shortages everywhere. So, look around at multiple locations and places to get your materials for your project. Prices will vary greatly with this method, but it may help you out of a jam.
- EXPECT DELAYS ON BUILDING ALMOST ANYTHING. It doesn’t matter if it is a 2000 sq ft home to a metal building. You will probably have delays in something. Especially materials and labor shortages.
- EXPECT TO PAY MORE FOR MATERIALS AND HAVING THOSE MATERIALS INSTALLED vs. 6 months to a year ago. Some materials have tripled in cost in the last 6 months, some have rose 10% each month for the past four months. Some have been raising up to 40% in a month like certain equipment. It is extremely chaotic with material and labor pricing. Most businesses are paying more for labor and have had to raise their rates to try to absorb the increase.
- THINK ABOUT ORDERING LONG LEAD ITEMS BEFORE STARTING THE ACTUAL CONSTRUCTION. Getting the long lead items ahead of the actual construction start could be the best way forward. I would actually recommend this approach if possible. It limits the interest being charged to specific material costs and gives you some control on the actual construction timeframe. Whereas the other way is if the project is well underway and being held up for delays. You are at the manufacturers’ mercy on getting those items. Preordering materials in advance, also makes for a smoother/quicker project. Not everyone can do this, but it is an option to consider in our current economy.
I GUESS THE GOLDEN RULE TO COPING WITH ALL OF THIS, IS TO BE ADAPTABLE AND RELAX. BECAUSE IT IS HAPPENING EVERYWHERE AND NOT SLOWING DOWN. Many of us have thought about holding off building a new house, adding on to their building, remodeling, etc. All because of these issues, price increases, and most of all, the uncertainty. No one can predict what the economy will be like in two to three years. The only thing you can do in that case is point out the pro’s and con’s. You can also review costs over the past decades related to inflation. Typically, when prices increase, they rarely go back down for a majority of items. Just look at vehicles, cellphones, homes, material costs, etc.
Bottom line is that just because the construction industry is facing new challenges everyday. It doesn’t necessarily mean give up and wait it out. Waiting it out will probably end up costing you more once things settle anyways. Hopefully, this advice helps some understand the challenges and what to expect in building a newer project.