2020 Has been a wild year. From massive wildfires in Australia ringing in the year to massive wildfires in the western United States to ring the year out, a lot has happened. The most defining aspect of the year has been the outbreak of SARS-CoV-2, AKA COVID-19, and most-commonly known as coronavirus. This outbreak has led to an international pandemic and massive life changes for various people. Among the effects that coronavirus has had on the world is it’s undeniable impact on the economy. As of this writing, over 7 million Americans have been infected, and 200 thousand have died. Between lockdowns and various business and government shutdowns grinding normal activities to a halt, it’s been tough to get on with life as normal. In the US, there isn’t indoor dining for the most part, and businesses like movie theaters, gyms, and other places where people congregate have either been changing drastically, or going out of business. Tourism and other similar businesses are suffering, as people can not travel as much. People that can travel, especially from foreign countries, often simply aren’t, in order to avoid infection while within US borders. On top of COVID-19, the US has also been wracked by intense storms. The Midwest is still recovering from a monstrous derecho, a type of inland hurricane that travels in a straight line, which inflicted billions in damage.
So, the US is dealing with worsening climate change resulting in fires on a before unseen scale, more violent storms, and a deadly global pandemic. Life must go on, but how can we adapt? Let’s analyze how the existing problems will affect construction and building in winter of 2020.
Expect halts and delays – more so than usual
Most experienced construction contractors know that the winter months are slower for building. Lower temperatures prevent the constant construction that characterizes spring-fall. Cement can’t be poured when temperatures are too low, meaning paving, foundations, and more will all have to be put on hold at times. Even in milder climates, that may not freeze over, or may not freeze for long, there are weather-related hold-ups. Heavy cold rains can halt construction, as can overly windy conditions.
It seems that sudden lockdown or business stoppage orders are a new normal. As various states open up their economies, businesses, and government offices after the initial wave of the pandemic, things are getting weird. States that had initially high numbers have leveled off, while states with initially low numbers are spiking.
As one state handles the virus and begins to open things back up, people will head out to neighboring states, possibly bringing the virus back and furthering the spread. Some politicians have decided to do next to nothing, letting the disease run rampant through their states.
This means that if you live in a state taking the COVID-19 thread seriously, you may be subject to sudden halts in your work when lockdown is declared. Although construction is often less affected than other businesses because it is often outdoors work, problems can pop up. Workers can have trouble making it to the site, sourcing materials and machinery may be trickier, and work might be straight-up halted for 2 weeks to a month at any time.
A La Niña in the Pacific Ocean this year is expected to upset normal winter weather. This may be good, as it means the southern states will have milder winters. Construction may be able to continue at a faster pace than usual. Northern states, on the other hand, will be expected to have colder winters and more storms thanks to the weather effect. La Niña typically causes the jet stream to come in from the Northwest, dipping down through the Midwest and then heading north again through the Northeast. On the north side of the jet stream, cold winter weather is expected. On the south side, the weather will be warmer and temperate. Right now, the La Niña has a 50-55% chance of occurrence.
If 2020 has taught us anything though, it’s that the weather can be unpredictable. No one is certain what will happen, and it’s a good bet that there will be severe weather which drastically affects at least several parts of the country this year.
The construction market in winter 2020
So far, 2020 has been a pretty gloomy year for most, but there are some silver linings to look for in the construction industry.
- Less tourism will unfortunately result in less income for many places. This will decrease the demand for construction in high-tourism locations.
- Rebuilding after the wildfires in the west will create a boon in that region. The good part is there will be a lot of work to do. The bad news is that it may put a strain on existing construction materials, raising their prices.
- Warmer than average weather may result in more productive winter building.
- Locked down economies in other parts of the world may decrease the world’s over all demand for building materials. This could lead to a glut in the market, and cheaper prices on supplies.
- Lockdowns will have unpredictable effects on supply chains, meaning prices could drop/rise suddenly.
- The possible appearance of a COVID-19 vaccine will cause a sudden surge in the economy as a whole, and construction will be part of it.
- Tech is a winner. Virtual building visitation, video conferencing, drone inspection and more are all on the upswing. Thanks to social distancing, buildings need more high-tech infrastructure than ever. High-tech building supplies will probably go up in price, as new places will need to be built pandemic-proof.
Planning on building in an uncertain future?
Reliable Commercial is a highly-experienced commercial contracting company, with an eye for the future. We can help you make the building of your dreams, while offering top-notch service, quality, and experience. If you aren’t sure how the market will wind up for you as this crazy year goes on, feel free to reach out to us. We can help you plan, budget, and complete what you need, while keeping on top of the unpredictable changes that this year and next will throw at us.