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Exploring COVID-19’s Effect on Construction Projects

Amid COVID-19, market research firm The Farnsworth Group and the Home Improvement Research Institute have hosted regular webinars for home improvement retailers, vendors and channel partners to explore how the pandemic was impacting DIYers and contractors.

In a recent session, Grant Farnsworth, managing partner of The Farnsworth Group, spoke with Kermit Baker, director of Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Remodeling Futures Program. Get key insights from their conversation to steer your operation forward amid unprecedented market shifts.

The worst of COVID-19’s construction impact could be behind us.

For pro contractors, the lowest volume of new construction bids and negative sentiment arrived in the middle of April. Since then, contractors have seen higher bid volumes and closure rates, though still below prepandemic levels. The number of contractors who are “extremely concerned” about the pandemic negatively affecting their operations has fallen since April.

“There really was a dramatic pause,” Baker says. “Hopefully we will see activity climb back up to where we were earlier this year.”

COVID-19 is fortifying existing home construction trends.

Healthy home design has been gaining traction for years, but during the pandemic, Farnsworth and Baker say existing trends have been amplified. The data shows the No. 1 driver of increased bid closure rates among contractors was homeowners’ desire for health and safety solutions in their homes.

“This is another example of the pandemic amplifying certain trends we were already seeing in place,” Baker says. “The healthy home movement was very strong coming into the pandemic, and it’s really reinforcing that instinct for a lot of homeowners.”

Construction projects are shrinking slightly.

Amid health and financial concerns, the data shows the overall size of construction projects shrinking slightly amid COVID-19. In the middle of May, nearly one-third of pro contractors reported seeing somewhat smaller projects, and roughly one-quarter reported much smaller projects on the horizon.

“There’s a lot of nervousness out there,” Baker says. “Where’s the economy going? Will I take a salary cut? I think all of those questions are focusing the projects on what really needs to be done, as opposed to jumping in and doing everything at once.”

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