Homebuilding businesses boom, but materials are dwindling

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Friday, September 11, 2020
Homebuilding businesses boom, but materials are dwindling
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During the pandemic homebuilders have gotten an unexpected surprise.

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- During the COVID-19 pandemic homebuilders have gotten an unexpected surprise: their industry is booming.

But they are now encountering a pandemic-related problem: supply chain issues.

So whether you want a new deck or new house, the pandemic means you'll need extra patience and extra cash.

RELATED: Raleigh housing market skyrockets despite the COVID-19 pandemic

However Paul Kane, the CEO of the Homebuilders Association of Raleigh-Wake County, said the Triangle isn't alone in these supply shortages.

"This is not the case of opportunistic builders seeing a high demand or greedy lumber companies," Kane said. "This is a global phenomenon."

Kane said he was surprised that people wanted to continue to build homes and remodel their properties during the pandemic.

"I think when this pandemic started there was this anticipation that it might just come to a screeching halt. And actually the opposite happened," he said.

But while homebuilding and remodeling was designated an "essential business" during the Stay-at-Home order and demand continued for months, the pandemic has finally caught up with the industry: it's hard to cut lumber and drive nails when you can't find them.

"The homebuilding industry is definitely experiencing supply-chain issues," Kane said.

He noted that many factories and mills have been affected. "You've got a lot of these manufacturers that are operating at a limited capacity. All states across the nation have varying levels of stay-at-home orders, so they may be operating at 50% capacity. Add to that, you get one person in a facility that gets diagnosed with the COVID, and they may get shut down for a couple of weeks."

Supply chain issues are affecting everything from lumber to locksets to lighting to stone countertops. But with mortgage interest rates at historic lows, the demand isn't likely to end.

And while that's more bad news for affordable housing, it's good news for many who have lost jobs to the pandemic and are looking for a new one or even a new career.

There was a shortage of workers in the homebuilding industry long before the pandemic and it's only getting worse, according to Kane.

"You can make a good living in this industry. This is not a consolation prize. In the grand scheme of careers, this is real work," Kane said. "And so I would say for those who are out of work and looking for opportunity, looking toward residential construction is a great opportunity."

So, if you need a job, call a local homebuilding or remodeling company.

And, if you're building a home, be patient and hope interest rates below 3% will help offset rising costs.