The second week of NAHB’s online poll showed that several of the coronavirus’s impacts on the residential construction industry have become more widespread and severe. Once again, traffic ranked as the most widespread problem, with 93 percent of respondents saying the coronavirus has had an adverse impact on traffic of prospective buyers.
This result is based on 318 responses collected online between March 24 and March 30. As in week 1, the largest share of responses came from single-family home builders; and respondents were most often owner, president or CEO of their companies. The geographic distribution was somewhat different in week 2, however, with a greater share of responses coming from the Northeast and West Census regions.
The week 2 poll listed eight possible impacts of the coronavirus and asked if each has so far had a major, minor, or no adverse effect on respondents’ businesses. After traffic, 89 percent of respondents for whom the item was applicable said the virus was having a noticeable, adverse impact on homeowners’ concerns about interacting with remodeling crews, followed by the rate at which inquiries for remodeling work are coming in (86 percent), cancellations or delays of existing remodeling projects (82 percent), how long it takes to obtain a plan review for a typical single-family home (80 percent), and how long it takes the local building department to respond to a request for an inspection (78 percent). The least common problems on the list were supply of building products and materials and willingness of workers and subs to report to a construction site, but even these were cited as a virus-induced problem by over three-fifths of the respondents.
Five of these problems were also covered in week 1 of the poll. Four clearly worsened in week 2. For example, the 80 percent of respondents who said the virus has had an adverse impact on how long it takes to obtain a plan review for a single-family home was up from 57 percent a week earlier. Comparisons across weeks should be interpreted cautiously, due primarily to differences in the geographic distribution of responses. In this case, however, the percentage increased significantly in each of the four Census regions.
Similarly, the 78 percent who said the virus has had an adverse impact on how long it takes the local building department to respond to a request for an inspection was up from 50 percent a week earlier. Again, the increase was present and significant in each of the four regions.
As mentioned above, problems with willingness of workers and subs to report to a construction site were less widespread than the other items on the list, but the 64 percent who cited it as a virus-induced problem in week 2 was nevertheless up from 42 percent a week earlier. Again, the rising trend was consistent across regions.
Even a decline in the traffic of prospective buyers, the most widespread problem in week 1 of the poll, was more widespread in week 2. The incidence of the problem increased in every region except the Northeast. The Northeast, however, showed a marked increase (from 57 to 73 percent) in the share reporting that the virus had a major, rather than minor, adverse impact on traffic.
The trend was not completely consistent across regions for the fifth item present in both weeks of the poll: supply of building products and materials. Although the overall share reporting this as a virus-induced problem was up, this was primarily due to a particularly strong increase (from 45 to 74 percent) in the Midwest. For additional details—including tables for each question broken down by respondents’ region, primary business, and position in the company—please see the full survey report.