Over the past few weeks I’ve had the privilege to visit our clients from this past year and deliver their Christmas presents. I enjoy “catching up” and seeing how they’ve decorated their new homes for the holidays. This year I took on a special project of making “Welcome” signs for each client and ended up adding a few for friends and family. One of the things I enjoyed most was the process of customizing each sign according to that home’s color scheme. Although I really enjoyed the project, I quickly realized by sign #10, I’m not going to leave my day job for the sign business any time soon.
Projects like making signs is something I enjoy, but honestly haven’t really had the time in years past. Normally, sports has ruled most of our family’s free time, but due to Covid, I’ve had a lot more free time to take up new hobbies (like sign making).
The lack of sports is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to things that have drastically changed this year. I know many of us (myself at the top of the list) have been looking forward to getting 2020 behind us. This past year will surely be one we will never forget. I, like so many, are hopeful this year will start “getting back to normal”. But what is “normal” going to look like for us?
Although this has been one crazy year with many setbacks and disappointments, I am even more aware of the many things we have to be thankful for. I am thankful that as of today, our family is healthy. I know that can change dramatically by tomorrow, but for today, I am grateful. I am thankful for the extra time we spent as a whole family this past year. I would have never asked for a country wide shutdown, but I am thankful for the blessings that came from less distractions.
I am thankful our industry was “deemed necessary” back in March when so many businesses experienced shutdowns. I know many businesses have suffered greatly this past year. But we are thankful our area continues to see growth even through these unprecedented times.
January is usually a time when we try to budget for the upcoming year. This year, it is extremely difficult to budget with so many unknowns still ahead of us. The tumultuous past year has caused industry wide material and labor shortages that have made building homes more challenging. Not only has the cost of lumber risen about 120% since this time a year ago, but with more uncertainty ahead of us, we don’t know when prices may stabilize. There are shortages across the board including trim materials, windows & doors, appliances and more. A few months ago we could order windows and have them on the job within three weeks. Today, the same order is taking 12 + weeks. And that’s trickling down to all facets of building these days.
From a builder’s perspective, creating an Estimate and Proposal for a custom home is getting profoundly difficult. By the time we get a quote from our suppliers and prepare the Estimate for the client, the quote is no longer valid and prices have increased again. But even under adversity, our industry moves forward. As so many unknowns continue to plague us (no pun intended) it’s also a great time to see first hand how resilient we can be.
If we think about what our nation has endured in it’s history, this year is just a drop in the bucket. For sure in my lifetime, this is the toughest year I can remember. But if you look at our circumstances and think what if this had happened 15 or even 10 years ago, how would things be different. Think about how this pandemic has changed our lives in many ways. 10 years ago would over half our workforce been able to keep their jobs by working remotely from their homes? Would our kids have been able to continue to go to school? I know many of us don’t like Online school or Zoom meetings but what if this had happened 10 years ago, where would we be? Could our scientists have created a vaccine this quickly any other time in history? Whether you believe the vaccine is a ray of hope or a concoction that will sprout new limbs, it’s still unimaginable we would even have the option just 10 years ago.
As we enter 2021, I still have fears but I also have hope. Hope that what ever 2021 brings we will be able to face the challenges and come out stronger. Will it be easy? Probably not. But what we do know, is we have the ability to adapt and prevail. So cheers to a new year. On behalf of Neil and I, we wish you a healthier and happier New Year. God bless!