by Sandy Griffis, Executive Director, Yavapai County Contractors Association
What has COVID-19 done to the industry that I totally love, adore and admire?
I have learned new processes such as Zoom meetings, Dropbox, and of course I have become a YouTube groupie in attending meetings. Business is as usual, and I would venture to say that more business is taking place because it is done from home and not the office, and there is no travel time to get from point A to point B.
I have also seen that the pace of permits and inspections are continuing in spite of the pandemic, there’s no slacking off with our jurisdictions, and I know that our local building permit teams, inspectors and plan reviews are busy as can be.
It is no secret that COVID-19 has affected all industries. Still, there are possible positive effects in the construction industry from COVID-19: I see an increase in available skilled labor. Prior to this outbreak, there was a huge shortage. With projects possibly slowing down, this may be more readily available, allowing contractors to take on projects, and delivery time will be shortened.
Interest rates are super low — seriously, a historic low, and homeowners can finance more projects.
And then of course there was the government stimulus. A nice way to get everything back on track quickly. I am hoping we see some large infrastructure improvements — like on Highway 69!
Homeowners, continue to look at your projects, get bids and keep moving.
Many construction projects are (because our industry was declared essential) still underway with new projects occurring daily, and construction is probably one of the more challenging workplaces. Construction workers are often in close quarters and areas that aren’t well-ventilated. However, I am so proud because our local companies have created best practices to help keep workers safe and healthy. Construction can be done safely and is being done safely.
It is encouraging to see local growth taking place in the face of a crumbling global economy, where so many of our local businesses were shuttered. I have seen local government and businesses streamline their processes, and it seems as if that thing called “red tape” has even been shortened.
Our jurisdictions are conducting virtual inspections centered on videos and photo-sharing. This is saving time and money. COVID-19 has turned many of us into virtual people.
I applaud and celebrate our jurisdictions again for adapting to COVID-19. Offices were closed to the public, but business is taking place at a rapid pace, all while minimizing potential exposure and still being able to interact with homeowners and contractors.
I would not be surprised if at some point our jurisdictions will explore using a wider virtual approach for broader applications within the permit process in the future, maybe even including parts of commercial permits.
Yes, we are all anxious to see what the next month’s permit figures will be and whether they deviate greatly from the norm.
Those that know me know the word negative is not in my DNA. However, due to COVID-19 more than likely we will see a material slowdown and possibly a shortage and even higher prices. The supply chain could be affected for items such as lumber, drywall, plumbing, electrical fixtures and mechanical equipment.
I will end my column by saying, even with the volatility in the stock market and the oil disputes in the Middle East and as much as our level of anxiety has amplified — do not freak out. We are America and we will recover!