Home builders

Pandemic creates challenge for Colorado homebuilders despite strong demand

MONUMENT, Colo. (KRDO) — The coronavirus pandemic has upended the homebuilding industry, with everything from supply and personnel shortages to lumber prices affecting the process. Demand for homes in Colorado has also skyrocketed over the past two years.

Data from the Pikes Peak Association of Realtors shows that from December 2020 to December 2021, the average price of a single-family home increased by 17.9%, from $417,238 to $492,087.

the The National Association of Home Builders says Nationally, rising lumber prices in 2020 and early 2021 pushed the average price of a new single-family home up nearly $30,000.

Dakota Shafer, owner and builder for GJ Gardner in Colorado Springs says his company has definitely noticed an increase in the cost of lumber.

“We saw timber prices double from January 2021 to June 2021, and since last year at that time they have increased by 18%,” Shafer said. “We’ve just been working with our suppliers to keep an eye on that number and are adjusting accordingly.”

The biggest problem for builders right now is the continuing supply shortage as the pandemic drags on for years. Everything from faucets to trusses to garage doors is out of stock. Shafer says that currently the lead time for a garage door is around 42 weeks.

“Many manufacturers have limited the number of SKUs they make, so there’s less availability of items right now,” Shafer said. “So where in the past you had maybe 20 different veneers to choose from, now that number is maybe twelve from a certain vendor.”

Also adding to the delays: the incredible demand for new homes.

“You can see on all levels the appreciation that’s happened here locally,” Shafer said. “A lot of people are coming from other states and out of town. We’ve had calls from Louisville firefighters who may be looking to get more acreage and get closer to Colorado Springs because believe it or no, it is still more affordable than in the north.

The booming housing market in southern Colorado is unlikely to slow down any time soon. That’s why home builders find creative ways to finish projects on time, including letting homeowners move in before the house is completely finished.

“Pikes Peak Regional Building works with us; they understand supply chain issues,” Shafer said. “They do TCOs, their temporary occupancy certificate, and will allow people to move into their house when it’s almost complete. All the security issues are taken care of, maybe it’s just the little things that need to be completed. This is not ideal, but it meets their need to move in on time.

While the pandemic has added stress to local builders and homeowners, it has also allowed them to think outside the box and find unique ways to get things done.

“I think it made us stronger,” Shafer said. “I think it’s the ability to change and approach the same issues in a new way. Like ordering materials earlier than ever before, being better prepared as we go into a build, doing color selections and being able to order those materials well in advance so that we actually get them and can install them, and in a good amount of time, close to home.

Shafer says that while many factors can change or delay a new owner’s move-in date, GJ Gardner has seen a typical delay of around 10 to 12 months from initial meeting to move-in.