SURVEY: Contractors Concerned With Long-Term Effects of COVID-19

COVID-19 isn't going away soon, leaving contractors to figure out how to work through.

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According to a recent survey conducted by Construction Executive magazine, about 70 percent of contractors believe that the construction industry will still be feeling the effects of COVID-19 well into 2021. Ten percent believe the industry may never again reach pre-coronavirus levels of activity.

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The pandemic has not impacted every sector of the construction industry equally. Single-family residential construction has seen sustained growth in recent months while other sectors, including multifamily residential and office construction, have struggled to bounce back.

That’s not to say parts of the industry that recovered from earlier losses escaped the impact of the coronavirus entirely. Only around 15 percent of the surveyed contractors said their businesses avoided COVID-19 related problems.

“More than 85 percent of the contractors surveyed reported that they are currently experiencing project postponements or cancellations due to COVID-19,” the survey report says. “Supply chain disruptions, prolonged municipal permitting processes and delayed inspections due to office closures are all factors contributing to the increased rate of postponement and/or cancellation.”

Though aspects of it were certainly disheartening, the Construction Executive survey was not entirely filled with doom and gloom.

“While the survey respondents’ concerns about market viability and the health fears of the virus itself will remain in place for the duration of 2020 and into next year, contractors did report bright spots, such as a widespread adoption of technology after the outbreak of COVID-19,” said Construction Executive editor-in-chief Lauren Pinch. “That said, as the pandemic continues to change the landscape of the U.S. construction industry and state and local economies, contractors are continuously trying to assess the near- and long-term effects.”

Essentially, the coronavirus has slowed everything down and made everything more expensive. Supply chain disruptions have led to increased lumber prices, while office closures have forced the International Code Council to come up with plans for virtual inspections. The notoriously change-resistant industry is trying to adapt on the fly, and it will likely take some time before that evolution is complete.