Today’s Economy and Home Repairs
Contractors are in short supply
Quality contractors have always been hard to find, but right now ANY contractor breathing is like a celebrity. If you have a relationship with a quality, honest, humble and hardworking general or trade contractor, you best treat them like the stars they are. Contractors are in short supply.
A thriving economy combined with the rebuilding needs of disaster-ravaged areas is turning the contractor pool into a limited but highly sought after resource. This shortage became apparent in hot growth areas of California a couple of years ago, but now has spread all across the US.
So, why is this happening, and more importantly, what does it mean for the average homeowner?
Supply vs demand
The answer to the first part is that there are not enough skilled tradespeople available. Nationwide we’ve been cranking out accountants and computer science engineers for years but neglecting to support the building trades. The number of seasoned general contractors, carpenters, plumbers, heating/cooling experts and electricians is dwindling and there are not enough to go around. And since it takes many years to make new ones, we are stuck with a shortage… at least for a while.
The answer to the second part is that consumers are naturally in for a hit. Industry-wide, prices are on the rise while response time and quality is suffering. Basic economics dictates that as demand rises on a fixed supply, you’ll see an increase in price. The bigger problem is that substandard and inexperienced contractors will be trying to cash in on the situation. This will have the effect of lowering the average quality level of service. This is sad because the industry had a less than stellar reputation to begin with.
The HPS advantage
If you are fortunate enough to be an HPS Stewardship client, you can expect to be sheltered from most of the negative effects. Since HPS only provides contracting services to our client base, the demand on our team is much less volatile. Also, HPS only works with the best, most stable and proven trade contractors in the area. These contractors were vetted long ago so quality and response will remain unchanged. Unfortunately, there is likely to be industry-wide upward pressure on material prices for the next year or so, but our high volume of work means we continue to get priority pricing and treatment for our clients.
Advice for non-HPS homeowners
For non-Stewardship customers seeking construction and repair work, my advice is to be patient and stick with contractors that have a proven history of quality and performance…even if you have to wait. Companies like ours that are more service oriented will always find a way to balance things out and make time for their preferred clients. In any event, you should try your best to be patient being mindful there is a scarcity of skilled trade labor available.
The price of anything building related, especially in California is higher, so budget your construction accordingly. It is wise to get a couple of estimates for comparison. If you like to negotiate, the odds are not in your favor in this economy. Because the demand is so high, most Contractors will just move on to the next customer.
Homeowners should make sure to give yourself plenty of time to both plan your project and wait for the right resources. Build relationships with your contractors. It’s always good to get to know the people who will be doing work for you. Let contractors and vendors know if you have an emergency to deal with. Good vendors are also good people and will normally go out of their way to help you in an emergency, no matter how busy they are. It’s a good idea to ask for the contractor’s rate sheet up front along with an approximated cost range for the repair. Request a detailed report of the completed work once finished.