Saturday, April 2, 2022

Backed-up contractors

Don is involved in a local organization which, among much else, needs to get an older historical building rewired. It's a big job, something on the order of $15-20,000. Don took on the task of getting quotes from electricians, after which the organization would decide which contractor to use for the project.

Well my goodness, this has turned into a months-long ordeal. Of the seven electrical contractors he contacted, only three returned his calls. Of those three, only two gave him quotes. Now that the decision is made as to which contractor to use, it's a matter of scheduling.

This week Don called the contractor to see when he might be able to start work on the project. The contractor told him he has numerous other projects scheduled already, so he's going to split the rewiring project for the older building into three parts and shoehorn the work in between his other projects.

Interestingly, rather than accept any money up front to seal the deal (which is normal), the electrician said he would bill the organization. Why? Because prices keep going up for the supplies the electrician needs (junction boxes, wiring, switches, etc.) to do the job according to code.

Similarly, we had a plumbing emergency that arose a couple months ago. Don called around to plumbing services, but every last one said it would be three months before they could come take a look – and this was for a plumbing emergency! Fortunately we were able to get the issue resolved, and it's a good thing, too. Three months?

Ditto with concrete. The electrician told Don he knows a number of concrete guys who said they're already three months out for new projects, and it's barely April. Oh and big surprise, the cost of concrete is rising.

We have several neighbors either actively trying to build homes, bring in manufactured homes, or otherwise get housing established. The trouble is, everyone and everything is so backed up – and prices keep rising, and supply-chain issues keep cropping up – that people are living in trailers or alternate quarters for the foreseeable future (months or even years) before they can anticipate housing to be built. Additionally, the original budget these neighbors might have had for building is now out of date because of skyrocketing costs of lumber, roofing materials, drywall, insulation, labor, and every other component that makes up a home.

This is the new reality, apparently. For those looking to relocate, this is a critical point to factor in.


  1. Amen sister, Amen. Keeping knowledgeable of what TPTB are doing to not just the USA, but the world at large, is the best way to handle your/our needs/life at this point. Some of our family just moved to OK, they were going to build their home, barn, corrals etc. Nope. Couldn't happen because of exactly what you just wrote. So, fortunately they were able to buy a home that had all of the above, but in a different place in OK. The family compound. We will be doing one north very soon. God bless you and your family Patrice.

  2. After moving to our forever home location, we needed a bit of professional to update our home. It took us a year to find someone to show up to an estimate appointment for concrete and electrical upgrades. However, when the work was completed (transfer switch installation for generator and concrete floor for garage - 2 different contractors) the work was exceptional. We live close to a previous burn 2015 and most contractors have had commitments since then. Must wait for our turn.

  3. And it is going to get worse.

  4. Patrice, this is similar to what I am hearing and seeing out on the InterWeb. Yours is not an isolated tale.

    We live in an area that is undergoing a building boom; I will pay closer attention to if and when these houses actually get finished.

  5. I live in Florida where new housing and shopping malls and school are popping everywhere, turning alot of farm country into neighborhoods. Meanwhile, my brother and his wife, came for a visit with me a year ago, loved it here, decided to go home put their house up for sale and move here. Sorry...too late. The COST of housing is so high everywhere, that they have decided to hunker down where they are in Tucson AZ. Things aren't altogether peachy here in FL..but we have a Gov that has yet to lose his mind and that is the difference!!! People who can afford it, are pouring in, I live in an OLD farmhouse, and I get calls everyday from phishers, looking to buy cheap 'country' property and sell it for millions.

    1. I live in SW FL and have been watching new home prices - regularly see price increases of $20-30,000! - and that's even before they are built. Just 2 years ago it would take 4-6 months from clearing the lot to finished home. It's now 9+ months and that's because workers,cement,roofing, windows, and even appliances are so backlogged. However, none of that is deterring out-of-staters from buying and waiting.

  6. I work in this world. Weave never been busier and never faced supply issues like this. I’ve given a lot of thought to root causes. Crazy demand from a generation who avoided buying, .gov cash, pandemic causing people to appreciate space, etc. I think one of the biggest is how uncommon/unpopular working with your hands has become. I’m older and can see the huge generation gap in people willing to work at manual labor. As low brow as it seems tell any one in the next generation you know who’s looking. Skip higher education and learn a trade. The guys I know (myself included) who took the trouble to become masters of a skill, or knowledgeable about construction are making as much or more than most doctors, without the debt load.

  7. I ordered a new window on January 13 to replace a rotting one. I may get it by May... it is "in production." I wonder if this American-made window is using components that are sitting on a container ship off shore.

  8. I have recently got a contractor to add a covered porch.... Mind you, it's just an entry 10 x 10 covered porch with rails and about 3 steps. Our front entry just looked crappy with a slab of concrete and 3 steps into the house. My wife and I talked about this in 2019 (earlier than when COVID burst on the scene) I put it off as NO ONE was doing any work at all in 2020. Bad timing I guess. Anyway, Made contact with a contractor who said he could "work" me into his schedule. That was late in 2020. We waited a year on this guy. In Nov. 2021 I gave up, made contact with another general contractor. Signed contract in March and they started this last Monday. So, guess what the estimate was? Just under $30,000 for a 10 by 10 covered porch. $300 per square foot.
    The contract is Cost plus so they have to send me the bills for materials and I am paying GET THIS $60 per hour for construction labor. Keeping the clock on them and watching like a hawk the materials used. + 20% for the contractor. I am thinking that the estimate is way higher than what the actual cost will be but it's definitely a different world now.
    Welcome to Bidenomics 101!!!! The kicker is that it's a 45 year old house and the purchase price when we bought it isn't much more than the estimate for the porch now! 1977 house bought in 1984.

  9. When we lived in Sandpoint in 2012, the oven in the house that we rented quit working just before Thanksgiving. Since we were renting the house, we notified the property company, and they contacted a guy who fixes these things and he said his first availability was at the end of December, which was insane.

    The deal that got struck was that the property management company had their own handyman, and he came out to figure out what part stopped working. The oven repair guy made sure the handyman ordered the right part, and then walked the handyman through the process of changing out the part by phone once the handyman could come back to do that, so thankfully, we had the oven fixed in a week.

    Even back then, it seemed like a lot of smaller communities were stretched thin as far as the number of repairmen available for projects. Some of this is that the generation that did this is retiring out, some of it that for all you see of "DIY" stuff, there are so many people under 40 who seem to be unable to figure out or repair the smallest thing, and also as communities grow, the demand for skilled help grows and there's very few people available to fill those positions, especially in smaller communities.

  10. As a follow up to my comment on April 7th, I agree with what Anon April 8th said about taking up with tasks the "qualified" people haven't the time for.

    I had a GFCI outlet go bad on me in our bathroom. Got a new one from big box and followed the instructions to the letter.

    Long story short I used a "licensed" electrician for an install of a mini-split HVAC where I was doing the General Contracting myself as the homeowner. No permit was pulled from the county. HVAC was to our Sunroom which was a NON-heated space. Mini-splits are great, aren't they. Highly efficient. Anyway, back to my GFCI problem. Called Electrician on the phone, asked if he could take a look and fix the problem. Since even electricians that do mostly small jobs are too busy, just said reverse the wires. SO, wal-la, did the reversal and works like a charm. NO service call... No $ or probably $100 or whatever! For less than $20, I fixed it myself.

    Problem is I can't do everything, I'm 68 years old, and not getting younger, really glad Big Box came up with 60# bags of concrete mix as 80# are just too exhausting.
    I can't get done with all my "fix it" projects before I age out or heaven forbid, I die and my wife can't find another "fix it" guy.
    Even renting as Anon said, is getting problematic.

    When are the High Schools going to STOP focusing on Universities and get back to teaching shop, like they did when I went in the early 70's.
    Thank God for men like Mike Rowe and John? Ratzenburger? who are the only ones promoting trades.... We need more of them, and real soon. Problem is most teens today are so focused on what's on SM or their cell phones they can't look up and see what is possible. The American work ethic is almost dead, I'm afraid. Find the paddles and bring it back to life!