How COVID-19 Changed Commercial Construction Projects

Crain Construction Aertson

The COVID-19 pandemic sent shockwaves across the world. Nearly every individual, family, business, and industry was impacted in some way, shape, or form. While we worked diligently to care for our employees and clients during the initial days of the pandemic, no one could anticipate the long-term effects the pandemic would have on industries like commercial construction. Many are calling it “the next new normal for construction” as business owners and commercial construction contractors adapt to challenges that alter the way construction is done.​​

Nearly 26 months after the pandemic began, our team at Crain Construction continues to work hard to navigate the changes created by COVID-19. While completing expansion projects with previous clients or beginning construction with new clients, we’ve worked diligently to overcome new obstacles in commercial construction and to exceed the expectations of our clients. 

 

Four Ways COVID-19 Impacted New Commercial Construction

Here are a few specific ways the construction industry is still adjusting in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic:

1. Navigating Supply Chain Delays

Supply chain issues and delays emerged in 2020 across several sectors, and the construction industry was no different. Many construction companies experienced delays when beginning or completing projects due to lockdowns and disruptions in the global supply chain. Delays at U.S. shipping ports nearly doubled in length, and companies continue to navigate supply chain issues for nearly every type of product or equipment.

2. Responding to Work Shortages

The early days of the pandemic created a plethora of difficult decisions for many companies as projects were halted or abandoned. While construction work has resumed and even increased in some cases, it has been difficult for many commercial construction companies to find enough workers to keep up with the demand.

3. Adapting to Higher Construction Costs & Inflation Rates

The cost of construction materials normally increases annually due to inflation, an issue that contractors faced even prior to the pandemic. However, the inflation that followed the pandemic caused an unprecedented rise in construction costs. Early engagement and coordination allows us to work with our suppliers, locking in pricing where feasible.

4. Adjusting Client Expectations Based on Longer Project Timelines 

Because of all of these challenges, new construction timelines can be difficult to nail down. Thankfully, as we’ve navigated these challenges, we’ve learned ways to help educate and inform our clients as we decide on a realistic project timeline. But the need to stay nimble and proactive is greater than ever in order to complete a project once a timeline has been defined. 

 

How to Plan for New Commercial Construction Projects in 2022 

Since the pandemic began, Crain has completed numerous commercial construction projects in Nashville and across the southeast. While each project had its own unique challenges created by the pandemic, there were a few important factors that contributed to the success of each one. Here are a few keys we’ve learned over the past two years to help ride the wave of the COVID-19 pandemic and deliver excellent results for our clients: 

1. Ensure there are collaborative conversations with everyone involved. 

Open communication, collaboration, and answering difficult questions honestly are absolutely essential for making sure a commercial construction project runs smoothly. This was true before the pandemic but it became even more important after its arrival. At Crain, we want to make sure our clients, subcontractors, and employees are equipped with all the important information they need to know. We believe that direct communication is the only way to eliminate ambiguity. A clearly-defined scope and process directly contributes to the overall success of a project.

2. Anticipate challenges and look for creative solutions.

While we may not be able to control supply chain issues or rising costs, we can anticipate how these challenges might impact a project. Our pre-construction team has done an incredible job learning an entirely new set of rules for project planning over the past two years. A new focus has been anticipating how the latest trends in commercial construction might impact a project. After they identify a possible issue, they team up to collaborate and provide several solutions. 

3. Understand what can’t be overcome and focus on what you can change.

If there is one thing that the pandemic taught all of us, it is that there are numerous things outside of our control. It’s important to recognize that some of the challenges created by the pandemic simply can’t be avoided. However, there are always certain variables within our control that can help us make the most of a difficult situation. By embracing our value of “owning it,” we’ve seen dozens of Crain team members step up to discover new ways to navigate the challenges created by the pandemic. 

 

Find Collaboration & Creativity with Crain Construction

If you’re looking for a partner who can help you navigate the challenges of new commercial construction created by the pandemic, the team at Crain is here to help. By getting involved early and anticipating the challenges you might face, we can help you complete your project successfully.

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