Going on year three of the COVID-19 pandemic, we’re becoming acclimated to our new “normal,” but there’s nothing normal about the depleting labor market and surging prices of a home-remodel. If you’re like many other Americans and took the extra time spent at home to make the home more comfortable and start on the remodel you’ve been putting off forever, you may have noticed how crazy expensive it is to get any work done and how long projects are taking to complete. The problem plaguing this industry at the moment is an increase in demand and decrease in supplies and available labor. Was this problem inevitable or is COVID at least partially to blame?
COVID Crashing the Labor Market
As COVID has progressed, the labor market has taken a hit. Between workers going on strike, workers having to stay home due to lack of child care, or by workers catching COVID leaving them unable to work, we’re seeing a labor shortage and every industry is feeling the impact. To accommodate these labor shortages, healthy workers are being overworked to compensate for their sick or absent coworkers and bosses have been scrambling to re-strategize and adapt to COVID protocols, essentially every employee is feeling the pressure.
However, this labor shortage has been impacting the home remodeling industry for some time now. We’ve seen a lack of trade labor, such as contractors, plumbers, and electricians, that’s needed to complete remodels, making projects take much longer and cost much more. This trade labor shortage has an unavoidable cause: retirement. Workers are retiring faster than they’re being hired, particularly in the skilled trades. This isn’t entirely to blame on COVID, however there were COVID-related layoffs that contributed to the decrease in labor supply; simply put there are just not enough tradespeople available to fill the open positions left by retiring baby boomers. It’s not that young people don’t want these jobs, they just don’t know they’re an option; high schools push students towards 4-year universities without informing them on the trades as a potential career path. This lack of trade labor has become a more pressing issue as COVID continues to surge through the American workforce.
The stress added to many employees and employers alike as a result of COVID is immeasurable and many workers are hitting their breaking point. The result? Labor strikes.
Industries and labor unions everywhere are going on strike; industries such as factories, healthcare, and food service alike with nurses, teachers, John Deer, Kelloggs, and Amazon being a few specific examples. Meanwhile, millions of other Americans have or are quitting their jobs in “The Great Resignation.” The pandemic provided many of us with a lot of time to think and a lot of loss to grieve; being surrounded with so much tragedy-in our homes or on the news- and being left with so much time to think, we learned to prioritize our happiness. For many, the journey to happiness involved quitting their current job in hunt for a better paying and more fulfilling one. It’s not that Americans aren’t wanting to work, they just don’t want to hate their job.
An Increase in Construction Demand and a Decrease in Construction Supplies Leads to Increasing Material Prices
Despite the rise in unemployment and shifting labor market, the home remodeling industry continued to be in demand. We spent so much time in our homes we began to realize how important it is to love the space you’re in and how crucial it is to have a comfortable and functional home. If you’re anything like me, quarantine taught you how to enjoy spending time at home so much you don’t want to leave the house even when you can, so you might as well make home comfortable.
I know I’m not alone because Harvard University researched the subject and found that 2020 was a record breaking year for home improvements and remodels with almost $420 billion spent. The pandemic gave us all a lot of time to think about what really matters to us; for many they rediscovered the importance of family and making their home a place they want to be. Trends in the home remodeling industry throughout the pandemic have shown homeowners are starting to invest in luxury within their homes- spending money on designers and higher end materials. However, just because you’re spending the money on the project doesn’t mean it’s actively being completed. With so many Americans wanting to start on home improvements, there’s an increase in demand for both labor and supplies but a shortage on both the trades labor and construction materials needed for these improvements. The result is skyrocketing material prices and longer project completion times.
Supply shortages are another result of the COVID-19 pandemic that’s affecting every industry. You may have noticed your grocery store and Target shelves looking a little more bare than normal, the same can be said about home-remodeling materials. As COVID first surged through the globe, factory work overseas slowed down, putting a delay on a majority of US industrial supplies, such as lumber and metal. As COVID has continued to run rampant through America, lumber materials have continued to increase in price.
Prior to the pandemic, the US received a majority of its construction materials from China; by not being able to import construction materials, the home remodeling industry had to rely on American produced materials and there hasn’t been enough to meet the demand. As Americans continue to invest in their homes through renovations and remodels, or as the demand stays high and supply stays low, prices will likely continue to increase.
Many of you reading this may be wondering how so many people were able to invest in their homes throughout COVID while many have lost their jobs, family members, businesses, health, and savings accounts.
I want to acknowledge those that have suffered as a result of this pandemic and recognize the privilege it is to be able to afford a home-remodel during a time of so much pain and loss.
Many people were able to afford home improvements by reallocating their spending- they spent less on traveling, eating out, and shopping, and used the money saved on their home. Others used their COVID relief funds to improve their home. If you do have a few extra dollars to spend, consider investing in your home- a place you retreat for comfort every day and where you can take solace from these unprecedented times. Consider starting the home remodeling process now before your project ends up costing even more and taking even longer! Give us a call at Homestead Remodeling and Consulting LLC to get started today!
Additionally, with COVID cases increasing and new variants popping up, many people are no longer comfortable having a representative or work crew from a home remodeling company come into their home. I can understand why people aren’t comfortable meeting with a representative at this time, everyone wants to do what they can to keep their friends and family safe and healthy; but, how are home-remodeling businesses supposed to tackle this issue and accommodate COVID conscious clientele? Many industries have adapted by offering virtual services. This may be a good option for the home-remodeling industry to explore as well.
A virtual consultation with Homestead Remodeling and Consulting LLC would essentially be the same as your in-person appointment would be; it would be a chance for you and your salesperson to get to know each other and discuss your project, without the risk of exposure. There would be a chance for you to submit pictures of the area you want worked on and a brief form describing the project prior to the meeting. This would give the salesperson a chance to prepare. You would still be able to see product samples, the only downside is you would miss out on the chance to feel the samples and different materials in person. However, the initial virtual consultation would provide you the necessary information to decide whether you’d like to proceed with the project, from there, an in-person meeting could be scheduled if comfortable with the client. If this is something that would be an interest to you, please let us at Homestead Remodeling and Consulting LLC know so we can begin to offer this service! Our email is: