The Gleaner

The challenges of home improvement during COVID-19

COVID-19 has had an impact on nearly every aspect of our lives over the past year. One such effect has been the increased interest in home improvement projects. People have been investing more time and money into making their homes more comfortable and functional. Part of the drive to improve their living space has been born of necessity; people can’t travel or visit others, and so are spending far more time at home, be it for school or work. This translates into people using their homes differently than before, and home improvement projects are a result.

The increase in renovation and construction projects has led to unprecedented demand for contractors like Richard Myre of Construction Richard Myre Inc. of Saint-Anicet. “We are all very busy; I’ve had to refuse seven or eight new houses this year as we can’t do them all,” he says.


PHOTO Capri23auto Pixabay


One negative side effect of the home improvement boom has been the exponential increase in the price of materials. Myre says he is surprised that the construction industry hasn’t been more negatively impacted by this. “I used to be able to make an estimate and the price would be good for six to eight months,” says Myre. “If there was a slight increase in materials of two to three percent, I would be able to assume it, but now prices regularly increase 30 to 40 per cent. Therefore, I have to revise my estimate a week before I start the job.”

The greatest challenge facing Myre has been scheduling, because of the delay in getting materials on time. “It is difficult to line up a schedule and to stay [with it] when materials take so long to get,” says Myre. “You must be organized and plan ahead, as you need to order materials at least four to five months [in advance],” he explains.

The construction industry, like all others, has had to adapt to the COVID-19 reality. This includes, among other things, employees having to fill out questionnaires about symptoms every morning, and workers needing to wear masks while inside a client’s house. Employees must also try to maintain social distancing between themselves, which is “not always evident,” says Myre.

For homeowners looking to undertake a project, the main thing to remember is to be patient and flexible; delays and shortages are just two more challenges of living through a pandemic.

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