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Readers Respond: Contractors see 2020’s challenges continuing

As summer comes to a close, some of contractors’ biggest concerns for the rest of 2020 are the impact from both the presidential election and the coronavirus, according to a survey of Construction Dive readers.

When asked what challenges they anticipate for the rest of the year, nearly 80% of respondents said they expect continued COVID-19 cases and restrictions, while about 93% said they are concerned about the presidential election slowing decision-making.

Additionally, 40% of readers are worried about continued delays in federal assistance and relief and 43% said they are worried about receiving even less work due to uncertainty over COVID-19.

Only 2% of respondents said they didn’t think the presidential election will impact construction. Nearly 40% believe a Trump win would benefit construction, compared with slightly more than 15% saying a Biden win would benefit the industry. Meanwhile, about 15% also said they are unsure of what impact the winner of the election would have. (Readers could select more than one response.)

About 35% said they anticipate work will slow as November approaches, and then accelerate following the election, regardless of its results. In terms of new work, some readers said they don’t anticipate any problems, but others were not so optimistic. Many voiced concerns about keeping their pipeline full, including:

  • Less retail and office construction.

  • Increased competition from larger firms.

  • Continued pessimism related to new starts and planned expansions.

  • Schedule impacts due to health concerns and social distancing requirements.

  • Rising unemployment.

As the coronavirus continues to impact decision-making, 86% of respondents said they will continue to utilize social distancing and PPE to protect workers from COVID-19. Only 12% said they were not concerned about the rest of 2020 in regards to coronavirus.

When it came to winter months potentially slowing work, most were not concerned that early 2021 would be an outlier. Around 70% of respondents said this winter would be no different, while 17% indicated they’d be implementing more staggered work shifts and 13% said they would add additional workdays to make up for shorter days.

Respondents said they will employ a range of tactics to get them through this challenging year and beyond. Many mentioned that an increased use of construction technology will help them smooth out problems while others said they are looking to enhance their planning and coordination tactics, stay in close contact with subcontractors and suppliers and employ creative scheduling on projects.

Looking to the rest of the year, one quipped: “The COVID zombies will probably slow down work a bit, but we’ll adapt.”

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