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It is not unheard of to have construction delays during a new multi-family development project. Your typical schedule delays are usually due to inclement weather, lack of manpower and, at times, a material shortage due to supply demand.

In the last 45 days we’ve seen similar delays; however, the root cause is very different. Lack of manpower isn’t because crews are stretched thin over several projects; it’s because one or more of their team members may have been exposed to COVID (or have tested positive for the virus) and are self-quarantining. Material shortages are suddenly commonplace due to “non-essential” manufacturing plants being shut down, or boats with large commodities coming from China being delayed at port. Even more odd, on-site crews must be mindful of social distancing and sanitization protocols, therefore being unable to work in the same building, prolonging rough-in and finish schedules.

Apogee is currently overseeing the Latitude 41 development, a 204-apartment home project in Bellevue, NE. No less than 30 days ago, we were ahead of schedule to deliver 72 homes by mid-May. This was ideal timing for leasing season, and the pre-leasing process was going extremely well!

Enter COVID.

Last week we found out that our stone countertops coming from China had not left the country and would likely sit in a U.S. port for 7-14 days due to the backlog and other COVID related regulations. Crap. We have 27 move-ins scheduled for the end of May so now what? We have to pivot, and quickly!

Our General Contractor, New Generation Construction, was able to work with a local countertop supplier/fabricator to find a solid surface alternative to meet our timeline – GREAT! But, as we know, everything comes at a cost. So, who pays? This is going to be a common question for the foreseeable future in development. Delays and related expenses will plague our developments and, with contractual clauses like “force majeure”, it will be hard to avoid COVID-related change orders. So while we’re uncertain what the next 6-9 months will bear, we are confident that our construction partners will help us solve COVID delays expeditiously and cost effectively.

Lastly, in an attempt to keep our jobsites open and ‘flatten the curve’ we have added protocols to protect our workers and consultants. Everyone on-site is required to wear masks, safety glasses and gloves. We also have revised our schedules to allow for social distancing between trades and sanitization sinks on every floor within the buildings. Health and safety will always be the #1 priority.

As my dad always says, “This too shall pass”. Let’s just hope this passes sooner rather than later so we can enjoy some semblance of personal and professional normalcy.