Prices going up means construction going down. Associations tracking the cost of materials for construction are finding the supply chain is in disarray, partially caused by tariffs imposed in the last few years. According to the AGC (Associated General Contractors), extreme price increases continued in July for a wide range of goods and services used in construction.

A key for skill building in construction has been the apprenticeship program. Sometimes called a work-study initiative, apprentices work along side a mentor or journeyman in the trade, usually after a short but intense training program at a union or vocational school. The concept goes back to the trade guilds of the Middle Ages with the first documented use of the term in 1563 in the British Statute of Artificers which outlined the Master/Apprenticeship relationship.

One might think of Las Vegas as being the atypical desert oasis, brimming with tourists and glamor, growing faster than almost any other city in the country. However, one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world isn’t Las Vegas and isn’t even in the U.S. The U.A.E. (United Arab Emirates) invites travelers with its modern skyscrapers, rich culture, desert experience, shopping festivals, lavish lifestyle, and hair-raising theme parks.

The throngs of tourists have been lured by a display of wealth and a fascination with a little-known part of the world. As a result of a rising number of globetrotters in the country, new hotels and resorts, shopping malls, and tourist attractions are being developed. After being commissioned, these places require regular repair and maintenance and an array of other supportive services to stay in prime condition and keep attracting visitors.

Affordability returns as a condition of the housing market as prices of existing homes “goes through the roof.” New construction of residential properties is hampered by supply chain cost increases, especially on lumber, although pricing has inched slightly better. However, the result is the United States is still experiencing a severe shortage of housing stock.

Sales of new and existing houses have been boosted by low interest rates on mortgages and an apparent pent-up demand from buyers who have been pent-up at home during the COVID-9 pandemic. According to the NAHB (National Assn. of Home Builders)/Wells Fargo HMI (Housing Market Index), builder confidence in the market for newly built single-family homes was 83 in May, unchanged from April, despite growing concerns over the price and availability of most building materials, including lumber.

A lack of resale inventory, low mortgage interest rates, and a growing demographic of prospective home buyers, were cited as reasons for optimism. First-time and first-generation home buyers are still at risk for losing a purchase due to cost hikes associated with increasingly scarce material availability. The consensus is that policymakers must find ways to increase production of domestic building materials, including lumber and steel, and suspend tariffs on imports of construction materials.

History will find the year 2020 was eventful, to say the least. Pandemic, economic meltdown due to lockdown, deaths and depression, glimmers of hope at the end of the year. At the one-year mark since COVID-19 became recognized as a pandemic, virus-based disease, there was movement in a positive direction on all fronts. A bright note was found in the economic outlook as businesses showed signs of coming out of the doldrums.

According to a survey by Intuit QuickBooks, U.S. small businesses are on the road to recovery from the financial losses experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic. The report, Intuit QuickBooks Small Business Recovery, uncovers the varied impact the pandemic has had on small businesses across different industries and geographies since March 2020, when COVID-19 caused many business owners to temporarily shut their doors.

For many, the terms “affordable housing” and “Los Angeles” are incompatible. The area is known for high rents and even higher purchase prices for homes. The county and city of Los Angeles along with non-profits are trying to change the perception while at the same time offering support for those in need. One of these firms is Linc Housing, a nonprofit developer and owner of affordable and supportive housing throughout California.

The news on vaccines is getting better every day. States are “opening up” at a rapid rate even as some debate if that is premature. COVID-19 deaths seem to have stabilized or are decreasing. Hospitalizations for the disease have decreased and variants are being treated. Normal is a word that is starting to return to the lexicon of business and consumer alike. And that leads to discussions about returning to office environments from remote work locations (i.e., home).

As vaccine rollouts progress and a return to the workplace nears, the data shows employees remain concerned about their health and safety and are interested embracing new ways of working, including a hybrid work model. Companies face many considerations when it comes to designing the post-pandemic workplace—from prioritizing employee health to adopting flexible work models to enhancing collaboration and creativity.

Construction employment at the beginning of 2020 was on the rise—until the COVID-19 pandemic hit. Then the keyword was “shutdown.” Businesses shut down, schools shut down, governments seemed to shut down everything. The operative word became “essential” as in essential workers could go to work—although many had to work remotely as offices were shutdown. Construction, in most states, was deemed essential, whether new building or repairing existing structures. Even so, employment took a hit.

While the governments of China and the US go back and forth on tariffs and travel, rights and restrictions, direct engagement at a local level are proceeding. Construction is one of the areas where US experience and ability are welcomed in China as the recent dealings of San Diego-based construction and project management firm Gafcon show.

After successfully planning and designing the first two phases of China’s Zizhu Hi-Tech Industrial Development Zone, Gafcon, winner of Gold and Silver Constructech Vision Awards, is now leading the planning and designing of the third phase of the 3,200-acre, mixed-use waterfront project. The firm will oversee the next phase centered on Orchid Lake Hotel, a 5-star business-class resort and conference center along the Huangpu River about 18 miles south of Shanghai.

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