Feet on the Street – The Latest 4/14

It has been another fluid week of firsts.

We saw firsthand and spoke with clients in Washington, Ohio, Nevada and California.

In California, a series of rainstorms dropped record amounts of April rain, which unfortunately impacted construction progress.

COVID-19 compliance, posters, protocol and daily logs for job sites are now as part of the regular routine as putting on your hard hat before walking onsite.

Furthermore, you won’t get your inspections without following protocol, maintaining daily logs and completing the required paperwork. This process has been quickly embraced by the building community and rightly so.

We observed three dark job sites with notices from the General Contractor that read: “This project is partially shut down until we meet all government guidelines to move forward. We are making every effort to open up the project soon.”

Across all calls, the transition from an office to a remote platform and its effect is widespread.

From scheduling inspections and subcontractors to ordering materials to getting loan documents produced, signed and notarized, the former routine processes everyone knew have now changed. Not that it’s stopping business, it all takes longer and adds time.

A Los Angeles based General Contractor whose small lot subdivision project is in the finish stages told us: “It’s not flowing the way it normally does. The girl who took our orders now works from home and it changes the phone situation. She doesn’t always answer when we call.”

This week we learned:

“Seattle is shut down. They are fining people for being on the road. I’m trying to figure out how to get some work done. I have to do something, even in defiance of the order. I was 45 days ahead and now I’m not sure how I’m impacted.” – Owner, Mixed-Use Renovation project, Seattle, WA

“In the initial wave, some workers were scared. Since then, we’ve had a good response. Now, it’s business as usual. Manpower, inspections, and materials are fine. It’s the (home) sales side that’s changed. You can’t show a house. Between lending and escrow, it’s really hard to get loan documents out and signed. Everyone’s working from home and the items that were normally addressed earlier in the process are now falling at the finish. It requires a secondary check and closings take longer to complete.” – Vice President, Central Coast of California

“Some guys don’t want to come to work. Some refuse to come for a week or two. It’s added 4 days to my schedule. There’s no problem with the material suppliers. Inspections are not impacted. The inspectors want to walk with only me and we stay apart. Permits are mostly electronic and it’s a little slower. It’s hard to get a hold of the people in the County. We have COVID-19 signs posted, wash stations and are sanitizing a lot. Every day, anyone who comes onsite to work is required to fill out a form. Who you are, who you work for, what job and if they have any symptoms. We put a mailbox at the wash station. Many don’t and it’s hard to track.” – Project Manager, Semi-Custom Home Tract, Las Vegas, NV

“Material supplies, that’s been the biggest issue. Getting them is the problem. Shipping is problematic. Most people are working from home. I’ve lost two weeks.” – General Contractor, Los Angeles, CA

“All sites are shut down. I’m not sure why mine has been allowed to continue. I think because it’s a small site. I’ve felt no impact at all. We’re full steam ahead and have more than enough manpower. No problems with getting materials to the job and today we are pouring concrete. We’re following protocol; masks, social distancing and wash stations.”- Owner, New construction 29,000 square foot commercial building, Dayton, OH

“The Building Department has split the inspectors into teams. One just tested positive and the whole team was quarantined.” – Project Manager, Los Angeles, CA

What’s trending

Just as the prior week, COVID-19 compliance and enforcement continue across the industry. The learning curve continues to present challenges. The governing agency’s programs vary, and some are looking to industry associations for help and guidance. Additionally, the remote platform transition that businesses have made, and the inherent unavoidable inefficiencies are now being felt in the field.

Thank you

We are grateful for the information our clients share with us while building under extraordinary circumstances. In turn, we share with them what other projects are currently experiencing in hopes that it can be helpful in some way.

April 13, 2020
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