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Student Housing Construction on Pace Despite Challenges Related to COVID-19

Construction has been one of the lucky few segments of the economy that has continued humming along during the pandemic. Student housing projects are still going on as planned, as construction has mostly fallen into the “essential” category of business during the shutdown. While builders report there have been few supply-chain issues, there were some initial slowdowns related to delivery.

“The only significant supply side issue we have had was on a project that we have under construction serving UMass Amherst,” says Brent Little, president of Fountain Residential Partners. The project, North 116 Flats, is under construction for delivery for fall of this year.

“When the outbreak hit fever pitch, we had all of our cabinets and countertops for the project on a ship coming from China in the middle of the ocean. We were very puckered up until those six containers hit the port in Connecticut, and we received pictures of them on the dock. We are now installing those cabinets in the fourth building of five buildings, so that issue has been mitigated. We were worried about some other items, such as laminate flooring, that were coming from overseas as well, but it has all arrived. If it had not, we would just have switched laminate specifications to something that was more readily available stateside.”

Problems that existed prior to the pandemic persist, so COVID-19-related challenges fall on an industry with an already thick skin. “From a construction standpoint, we have been dealing with lack of skilled labor and increasing costs due to tariffs over the past couple of years, so the pandemic has not greatly affected our operations,” says Marty Hoffey, business development manager with MW Builders. “The most asked question we get today is where costs are headed. Although there are reasons that costs could be headed in either direction, ironically, they have remained somewhat stable over the past few months.”

Read the entire article by Lynn Peisner at:

This article was originally published in the May/June 2020 issue of Student Housing Business.