It’s difficult to predict what will happen economically in our current pandemic. When the Spanish-Flu hit, the world was a much different place, and because of that, we can’t make useful comparisons. So, how does COVID-19 impact today’s housing market and, more specifically, the construction market? Well, here are a few things we see through the lens of Charter Custom Homes.
Though the stock market has dropped significantly, we haven’t seen the same downturn in the housing market that we saw in 2008. At least within the Seattle Metro area, with a few exceptions, the housing market is still strong, so because of that, material prices haven’t changed. However, with that said, there are still many unknowns to which way the market will go. Though we see a housing dip from previous months leading up to COVID, economic indicators say the outlook is good, and there’s no reason for us to think material prices will go down. Seattle is lucky to have a hand full of major corporations (Starbucks, Microsoft, Amazon, Facebook) that continue to thrive through the pandemic. That’s good news for our local economy and the housing market.
There’s still plentiful of work to go around, and that work is chugging along. In the month of April, residential construction stopped entirely in the state of Washington because of Governor Inslee’s Stay at Home order. At the beginning of May, projects started back up – but with many new rules in place. However, workers aren’t talking about the lack of work as much as they’re talking about the added personal protective equipment (PPE). Mandated by the state, new PPE and social distancing guidelines due to COVID slows down productivity.
We have no way of knowing if, or when, the new safety guidelines will be relaxed, but for now, we expect these rules to be in place for a while. Construction is physical work, and extra PPE can slow down the process, inhibiting body movement. Not only that, if workers must keep a six-foot distance, then the construction schedule gets even more complicated; teams of tradesmen: electricians, plumbers, and framers will need to be staggered, whereas before they could work simultaneously; this not only adds time but an increased budget.
What’s in store?
Any world-changing event causes people to behave differently. This pandemic may change the way people live in their homes. People could look to outfit their homes with a more pronounced gym, a larger media room for entertainment (which went out of vogue a few years back), or a better home office to feel even more comfortable working. Furthermore, the pandemic may change a person’s view on city living. Small apartments and condos aren’t convenient living in the time of COVID. When stuck at home, it’s nice to have some type of personal outside space. We aren’t sure exactly how the built environment industry will change, but it’s on our minds as we speak with clients and colleagues.
It’s difficult to speculate on what the future holds for residential design and construction. Having been in the business for over 35-years, what we do know is things won’t be the same. COVID-19 isn’t a trite fad that comes and goes, it’s the beginning of a change in the way we live, which will have an indelible mark on the design of our homes, and how those designs play out in the build process. Whatever happens, we’re here to assist clients and architects through the building process.