Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Spring warms up the residential construction industry

With the warm weather comes the work.

Being a general contractor and being in business for over 30 years you see a lot of trends come and go. One trend that has been consistent over all those years is when winter starts to whine down and the weather starts to get nicer the phone will start ringing more with potential jobs. It’s like clockwork, it doesn’t matter how long or short of a winter we have, when March rolls around and the sunny warm days start to outnumber the cold snowy day’s people start calling wanting work done.

It starts on the first week that we have some nice weather with people calling for information and quotes, then when the March weather turns snowy and blowy again the phones go quiet. I have actually seen my boss start to wonder if the phones are even working because things got so quiet.

When we start getting toward the March break and there are more sunny warm days then cold the phones actually will ring steady all day and into the evenings. You would think that the people calling are people who need repairs from the long winter, or they want outside work done like decks and fences and where waiting for the snow to disappear. That’s not the case at all; it’s everybody that starts calling.

People that want small renovations all the way to people looking to build multi-million dollar custom homes.
It has always surprised me on how people are able to put off something as expensive or intrusive as a major renovation or the building of a custom home until the weather warms up.

There are a couple of things that people should realize about the spring time for builders;

This is the busiest time of the year for meeting clients and quoting potential work.
It will take longer for you to get a quote out of a builder in the spring because they are quoting multiple projects; their sub-trades that have to also quote on jobs are quoting on multiple things.
In rural counties there is what is called “half loads”. This means that you cannot start building a house on a rural road until they are lifted. This is for the safety of the road as the frost will buckle them and a heavy truck will damage the road. This will delay any house building until late April into early may.
Builders work on a first come first serve mentality. If they have picked up jobs in the winter and you want a job to start right away in the spring, you might have to wait a month or two until they can free up labour and sub-trades.
With March break, a lot of sub-trades take time off, which will delay any quote or work that you potentially want done.
If you are getting drawings done by a professional, spring is the busiest time for them as well and you could end up in a situation where you have a builder but have no drawings to start the project.
Township building departments get overloaded in the spring with all manner of building permits requests. If your building permit is a little complicated and needs special attention then you could be waiting a lot longer than normal just for the permit.
If you have to deal with a commission like an environmental protection commission you could be waiting a long time for approval. Commissions have no mandate like building departments do; they do not have a timeline to give you permission in a timely manner. In the spring which is their busy time you could easily wait months for your permit.

So as the weather turns warmer so will the construction industry. The number of quotes will start to fly out the door; the work will start to trickle in and buildings will start to rise out of the ground.

The one piece of advice that I will give you if you have waited to start this process until the sunny days of the spring; have patience. It might take a little longer for you to get your quotes, to get your approvals and to get your project started but everyone starting in the spring is in the same boat.

Rob Abbott
Operations Manager
Village Builders Inc.

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