Delays caused by pandemic restrictions have combined with increased demand for customized rural dwellings to create a hot local construction market with large projects booked well into next year.

“These are trying times for everyone, please be patient,” advised Aggie Tose, executive officer for the Haliburton County Home Builders Association.

“Coming into the County in June and July and expecting the contractors to come see your project right now is just unrealistic. It most certainly isn’t because we don’t want the work. We do.”

However, contractors are trying to balance pandemic management requirements, material shortages, and delays on the projects they’ve already committed to, explained Tose.

Also, “[the] safety of our staff is a priority before we consider allowing them to work in your home or cottage … [and the] contractors also have families they haven’t seen since the pandemic began.

“The other problem for contractors in our area is that we only have so many staff and we can’t take on more than we can handle. There is so much work, most contractors are booked for big jobs into the summer of 2022.”

Costs for materials have risen by more than 150 per cent in some cases, said Tose, and while the size of most projects remains the same, the number of project requests has more than doubled.

“In the beginning we were very concerned about the lumber mills closing due to COVID, but they seem to be up and running well now. The [initial] lag in production slowed lumber arriving. There seems to be a big problem right now getting other materials in a timely manner. Doors and windows are nine to 12 weeks on order and ICF [insulated concrete forms] blocks for foundations seem to be very difficult to get.

“I think the biggest change is that the contractors are having to plan material purchases much earlier than they might have in the past.”

Despite the delays, contractors may have room to tackle some smaller projects, but that will also depend on the supply of materials, said Tose.

“The Canadian Home Builders’ Association has been active with lumber industry counterparts, the federal government and the U.S. National Association of Home Builders to pursue all avenues to bring more supply online and bring prices down.

“With strong housing demand expected to continue, and lumber supply having a hard time catching up, it is expected lumber prices will stay high for some time, certainly through the first half of 2021. Lumber futures show a descent of lumber prices as the year continues, but this will be slow through 2021 and 2022. Even at the end of 2022, lumber prices are not expected to be all the way back to near pre-pandemic levels.”

So it appears a little patience will have to go a long way

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