Revisiting the Predictions Made About Construction During COVID-19
Updated: Jun 25, 2020
It is no secret that the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted certain industries and the
construction industry is no exception.
As lingerings of the virus began, news spread quickly throughout the globe. Though it
seemed like a slight reality at the time, the hope was that the United States would not be
affected. On March 13th, before the virus took a serious effect, constructiondrive.com
ran a survey for construction workers throughout the country. One of the questions
included the following: “How has the coronavirus affected your work?” The results
yielded a rather surprising answer.
Instead of the predicted answers- shortage of materials or government shutdown- it
was anxiety amongst construction workers that was reported at 70%.
What factors does this anxiety stem from? It can include location, condition,
specificalities, and much more.
For example, an electrical or mechanical worker may be more difficult to replace than
just a general contractor because of the rigid licensing laws dependent on each state and
because they are generally not as easily replaceable. Construction attorney, Steve Lesser
states, “If you have a subcontractor whose work force becomes unavailable, who is going
to pick up the slack to perform that work? That’s a real problem especially here in
Florida and elsewhere where they have specific licensing requirements associated with
the performance of specialty trades such as roofing, electrical and swimming pools.”
Another prediction made by the survey was that there would be material delays, making
it evidently more difficult to complete a job. There are some U.S construction companies
that rely on Chinese goods and materials. As COVID-19 initially stems from China,
many factories have been shut down and stopped production, which has directly
affected U.S construction. Joe Natarelli, National Construction industry leader, states,
“By conservative estimates, nearly 30% of all U.S. building product imports come from
China, but some American construction firms rely on China for up to 80% of their
materials.” Companies who relied on Chinese products have been forced to go to other
markets where prices of goods may be higher and may even take longer to find its way to
the U.S. Ultimately, this is slowing down construction projects specifically as there are
no alternate plans.
Looking back at the predictions from March 13th, many are correct. The anxiety from
workers has been immense, supply shortages have occured, and even clients and lenders
have proven to be anxious about starting work again. Currently, many states plan to
reopen within the next few weeks in addition to some states that have already been
reopened. With these reopenings, workers will soon be able to return to their jobs,
hopefully feeling comfortable and worry free in a safe environment. Though the fight is
not over, the plan to reopen should give workers around the country hope and allow
them to return to their jobs soon.
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