Supply chain delays impact housing construction in Summit County
Building a house in Summit County was already tricky before the pandemic: the cost of land isn’t cheap, the High Country’s climate is very different from that of the Front Range, and a reduced labor pool means that projects are more expensive and take longer than building houses elsewhere. But since the pandemic, the cost of some materials has skyrocketed and development may take a few months longer than expected, making the construction process even trickier.
The aches and pains of this new reality have been all too familiar to developers and home builders over the past year and a half, but that doesn’t mean the hiccups deter demand.
âIt doesn’t seem like this is deterring people from wanting to build right now,â said Paul Steinweg, construction manager for Iron Forest Building Co. âWe’re getting more calls every week than ever as a business, and it is shocking. , to be honest, the interest in building right now.
It is safe to say that the pandemic has thrown a wrench in the construction and manufacturing industries. Summit Homes’ construction project manager Kevin Berg said this was because many industry experts predicted that the economic repercussions would be similar to those of the 2008 financial crisis. Instead , consumers have decided to embark on DIY projects and some have even decided to abandon their current homes and buy or build a new home. In the meantime, suppliers and manufacturers are trying to catch up.
âThe demand has gone exactly the opposite of what the industry thought it would do, and so they still haven’t caught up,â Berg said.
The result is that the projects take longer. Berg said materials were constantly in short supply and, when asked what materials, he said “it’s something different every week.” So far, flooring, appliances and accessories have all had longer delivery times and require more proactive orders. Case in point: Berg said he placed an order for refrigerators in July 2020, two of which are still awaiting delivery.
Steinweg sees the same thing. He said it is recommended that device orders be placed 10 to 12 months in advance and that windows now be within the 12 to 17 week deadline, when it was six to seven weeks l ‘last year. Before, prefabricated trusses used to take three to four weeks to deliver, and now they take 14 weeks for some suppliers.
It’s not just the developers, either. Suppliers like Breckenridge Building Center also struggle to keep up with constant changes and delays.
âWe have a window order that we ordered in December 2020 that is not expected to arrive until November of this year,â said Nick Black, director of operations at the Breckenridge Building Center. âImagine being the owner or worse yet the contractor stuck in the middle and trying to have a conversation with the owner and also having a conversation with us providing the material and just trying to meet that street in the middle. “
To help alleviate some of these issues, both Steinweg and Berg said they tried to order gear as early as possible.
âWe can still get the materials and keep our projects on schedule, but we have to look much further than before in order to get the same materials on site,â said Steinweg. âIt’s definitely a challenge. You have to be on your game.
While both Steinweg and Berg have said they are doing what they can to stay ahead of the game, some of it is beyond their control. Summit Homes Construction is focused on production construction, which means the company does not build custom or custom homes. Berg said the team can usually wrap up a project “pretty quickly,” but right now they’re seeing a two to three month delay.
Iron Forest Building Co. works on specific, custom homes, which Steinweg says typically takes 13-20 months, depending on the size of the home. Since the pandemic, Steinweg said these projects are now taking an extra month or more to complete due to delivery delays.
Fortunately, the prices of many materials have started to stabilize. Berg noted that the cost of lumber had risen 300% earlier this year, pushing prices up dramatically. new homes. Data from the National Association of Home Builders confirms this staggering figure. According to his site, the cost of framing and lumber prices peaked in late May, but have continued to stabilize and decline since then. Prices are currently lower than they were in mid-March.
Even with all of the challenges of the past year and a half, Berg and Steinweg both said that doesn’t stop people from building property in the county. For now, the two have said they are focusing on communicating as much as possible with clients to ensure projects can stay relatively on track and on budget as much as possible.
This story was previously published in the September / October edition of Summit County Home magazine.