As we all know, 2020 so far has been a year like no other. Covid-19 has had an impact on all of us all in one way or another. I have great sympathy for those that have suffered from the loss of a family member or friend due to the virus. Most of us had no idea how we were going to cope with this pandemic. There were predictions of possibly over 2 million deaths from the virus if we didn’t do anything. Although there will always be differences of opinion on how things could have been handled, I feel as a country we responded well. Makeshift hospitals were built and staffed, manufacturing companies shifted to making ventilators and masks, & testing and vaccines are being fast- tracked through the approval process. We are likely to see a spike in cases, but we must move forward in a safe manner.
In addition to the human toll, there has also been an economic toll. Many businesses have been stressed to a breaking point. I hope most can somehow survive, although survival for many will be impossible. Studio21 Architects has been fortunate to have a steady flow of work. I am grateful for that. Yes, we learned to work remote, however, we have all safely returned to the office and I appreciate the camaraderie and collaboration that our staff again enjoys.
We face challenges in opening up the country. I’d like to share a few examples from the construction industry alone. Trade contractors are spread thin with the lack of skilled workers. The supply chain for many products used in construction are requiring long lead times.
Framing lumber has skyrocketed in cost. This is partially due to tariffs but most recently due to the effects of the virus. The logging industry has slowed due to smaller crews available to harvest the wood. The mills shut down in the early months of the pandemic and, as yet, haven’t caught up. The cost of lumber has almost tripled since April. Lumber prices cannot be guaranteed and the availability of certain products is sketchy. We are currently facing this dilemma with a large addition which is just starting construction. The National Home Builders Association recently stated the increase in lumber costs has raised the price of a typical single family home by $16,148 since April 17. This alone has stressed residential construction.
In spite of these current circumstances, I remain optimistic that we will return to a world that is close to normal. Is it too soon to look forward to the end of 2020 and usher in the New Year? Let’s hope by next year a lot of what we are going through will be in the rear view mirror.