In a year when many people have been spending more time than ever at home, some of the side effects were predictable. One development that took almost everybody by surprise was a surge in home improvement projects and an increase in demand for building supplies.
Jason Albert says he and his wife started thinking about replacing the smaller old deck at their home in New Hartford, with a larger one in July
and then started calling around looking for materials.
"There was definitely a handful of places that didn't have stuff," Albert said, "and then we got a few prices that were just kind of, ya know, we gotta keep looking."
Guy Cusanno describes it as a perfect storm. He's a buyer for Miner's Inc in Canton. In 42 years in the building industry, Cusanno says he's never seen anything like this.
The storm started when the pandemic "stay at home" orders hit. At that time, most people in the industry expected building projects to slow down, including those who produce construction materials. It turns out all of that time at home inspired a lot of people to start sprucing things up.
Cusanno calls them "staycation projects."
Greg Miner's family started Miner's Inc. in 1994. He says doing everything you can to make sure you have what customers need at a time like this, is more important than price.
Miner says nobody saw this coming.
"You can't predict an increase of 40% in demand," the second generation building supplier says. "No one can. We can't, the producers of the chemical can't."
Contractors like Jessie Allen have seen and felt it. Allen owns Bay Construction in Milford and says projects that were quoted before the pandemic, mean he has to absorb the price difference, and is sometimes stuck waiting for what he needs.
"he cost of a 2 x 4 used to be three dollars, and now it's almost $8 for one 2 x 4," Allen said. "Ordering materials; it used to be a two week wait, now it's an 8 week wait."
The Alberts were able to build a new deck, but it took longer and cost about $2000 more than what they originally expected.
Prices may not come down to pre-pandemic levels anytime soon.
Industry insiders say a lot of people were not able to complete their home improvement projects in 2020, 2021 will likely be another busy year.