Change and Challenge

How we’ve adjusted to disruption and adapted to change in 2021.

By Don Neff 

This year, much like 2020, has been challenging, however there is more optimism in the building industry and the economy. Change was frequent and transformed our lives—how we acquired goods and services, how we interacted and connected with one another, operated our businesses and integrated new technologies into our personal and professional lives.  

These are just a few areas where we’ve had to adjust to disruption and adapt to the changes.  We were also thrust into this amazing world of creativity, innovation and collaboration that has helped carry us through with fresh ideas. 

Fortunately, the effects of COVID have continued to subside throughout the year, and project starts have resumed across all building types in all regions of the United States which is a positive sign heading into 2022.

“Throughout 2021 our industry navigated in a virtual world with mixed results, faced product shortages and delays, and felt the consequences of labor shortages in a variety of industries, but we kept moving forward and planning for the future.”

Throughout 2021 our industry navigated in a virtual world with mixed results, faced product shortages and delays, and felt the consequences of labor shortages in a variety of industries, but we kept moving forward and planning for the future. We needed to rethink how we did business, made decisions and how to manage risk going forward. 

As project schedules lengthened, construction material costs increased. Entitlement processes became virtual, and plans were changed. Some projects were delayed, and some were canceled. Supply chain disruptions greatly impacted deliveries as we’re still living through this new reality. 

According to a study by the National Association of Home Builders released in April 2021, the soaring lumber prices had increased the price of an average new single-family home by $35,872, and also added nearly $13,000 to the market value of an average new multi family home. 

We have seen a recent decline in lumber pricing but there have been large increases of many other construction materials such as steel mill products, building paper, OSB, wood windows and copper pipe. Manpower shortages amongst trade contractors across the industry have also continued to plague production cycles, extending project schedules and further increasing costs. Shortages in raw materials and a tight labor market will continue into 2022.

The residential real estate market saw incredible increases in home appreciation throughout 2021. Bidding wars in many markets fueled price increases, benefiting home sellers, but also frustrating homebuyers. Low mortgage rates and low for-sale supply further exacerbated the trends.  

With remote work becoming our way of life and homes being used for multiple purposes, some people looked to move from small apartments and spaces to single family homes with more live/work functionality, including creatively designed outdoor areas for extra privacy and relaxation.  

Simple accessory dwelling units on the same lot, once designated for in-laws and aging parents, have also continued to evolve in design and functionality. The trend for seeking living spaces with in-home workstations/office and outdoor recreation areas will likely remain a strong driver in the market, even post-pandemic. 

Every region in the country experienced at least a 14.9% increase in home price appreciation, according to the Federal Housing Finance Agency.

2021 presented obstacles, some big, some small and some we may have never faced before. We collectively adjusted, maneuvered and sacrificed to help bring an end to the pandemic while holding together our families, loved ones and our business and professional associations.

As the year ends, we may find that our numbers are down, but we should remember all that we have overcome and all that we have accomplished. The partnerships that we have formed, the more efficient processes we have perfected, the greater appreciation we have shown to our coworkers, clients, vendors and ourselves. 

The outlook is positive, but the challenges from 2021 will continue to plague us in 2022. Our goal is to help clients with risk management and quality assurance programs so their operations and projects will move forward and be successful.

Don Neff is President of LJP Construction Services. He can be reached at don@ljpltd.com. For more information, visit http://www.ljpltd.com.

 

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