COVID-19 Impact on Home Construction in Central Oregon

Cascade Business News – COVID Q&A

Q: Have Oregon and Deschutes County social distancing rules hindered progress on existing projects?

A: No. Fortunately, our business is strictly high-end custom home building where social distancing is inherent on the job site. Many of our subs wear masks and gloves on the job by default, regardless of the new rules. We rarely have more than 2 or 3 subs on the job at one time and they are often separated by hundreds of feet.

As a result of COVID, some of our subs are taking extra precautions by working atypical hours in order to avoid any contact with other subs, which we fully respect and support. COVID has prompted us to focus more than ever on the health and safety of our job sites and project teams. COBA and the Bend Chamber of Commerce have been supportive in providing us with current information and helpful resources which we have disseminated to our project teams.

As always, we communicate openly with all subs and vendors on our job sites. Our commitment to promoting an atmosphere of mutual respect and loyalty on our jobs for the past 25 years is paying dividends right now in these difficult and uncertain times.

Q: Are future home projects being affected by COVID-19? How?

A: Yes. Fears of an economic downturn have prompted some new home starts to move more slowly. We have one project on pause until further notice. The uncertainty has given us all pause.

Q: Has the Coronavirus pandemic affected the overall cost to build a home?

A: No.

Coronavirus Preparedness and Response

Q: Are construction materials readily available?

A: Yes. Other than N95 masks – those are extremely difficult to source right now, if not impossible. Our painters, framers, masons and finished carpenters are all running short on N95 masks. Luckily, most had enough inventory to get by. Everyone is certainly being more mindful to conserve when and where possible.

Since 1995, we have always worked almost exclusively with local, family owned suppliers and vendors like Johnson Brothers, Stereo Planet, Baptista Tile, Parr Lumber, Building Solutions, etc. We don’t deal with Big-box or National outfits who may be struggling more with international supply chain issues.

Q: Are you concerned about future supplies due to COVID-19 complications?

A: No. We have worked with the same suppliers here in Central Oregon for 25 years. We work very closely together and communicate almost daily. We have received no indication from our suppliers to validate any doubts or concerns of supply issues. Additionally, we have always had a process for backup sources of materials to avoid any risk of project delays. COVID has only validated our standard operational preparedness. 

Q: Anything else to add regarding the impact of COVID-19 on the housing industry in Central Oregon?

A: The population in Central Oregon has grown exponentially over the past few years and at times it’s difficult to recognize our small towns. But we are still a tight-knit community. COVID has only highlighted that fact.

At Bennett Builders, building relationships has and always will be at the core of what we do. We have worked with many of the same trade partners, suppliers and vendors for 25 years. We are literally like family, now more than ever.

In life and especially during these times, it is my firm belief that we can choose to either let fear or love determine our attitude and actions. “Love casts out fear.”

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Do construction businesses have to close in Oregon?

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown’s “Stay Home, Save Lives” executive order – issued in light of the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak – does not include construction among the businesses that must close. However, the order requires all businesses that continue to operate to follow social-distancing guidelines and to designate an employee or officer to enforce social-distancing policies consistent with guidance from the Oregon Health Authority (OHA).Oregon Occupational Safety and Health : COVID-19 : State of Oregon

Oregon Home Builders Association – COVID-19 Job Site Practices

“In addition to developing a common set of jobsite safety recommendations, OHBA has developed a COVID-19 safety class available to contractors through Home Builders University. The class can be taken by contractors to earn continuing education credits in accordance with licensing requirements.” Construction Industryand State Agencies Partner to Keep Workers Safe Amid COVID-19