A robust post-coronavirus economic recovery revolves around opening industries and businesses quickly but safely. Non-urban, single-family residential construction must be part of that first wave.
The shutdown of everything, everywhere must rapidly evolve into nuanced policies of not just which industries can open, but which related businesses can as well.
Little is comparable about building a house in the Hudson Valley and a skyscraper in New York City. Single-family non-urban residential construction can be socially distant, have staggered schedules, is partially outdoors and typically comprised of small teams where self-reporting of illness would be immediate, contained, and traceable. The residential construction industry can handle rules; it complies with building codes and architectural plans every day.
Construction spending drives an array of industries, governments, and small businesses. Electric and plumbing supply houses, lumber yards, framing crews, engineers – all contribute to consumer spending, sales-tax revenue, building-permit revenue, and planning board fees. Homeowners could continue to invest, building inspectors would be busy, bankers can lend and so much more.
Additionally, why has the construction industry had to sit idly by? Fast-food restaurants, convenience stores, and pizzerias interact with millions of people a day. Construction workers on a team of four can’t be family breadwinners?
While the private industry may be roaring to go, the public sector will lag for months or longer because of municipal bottlenecks. Health and building departments will have to catch up on permits and inspections. Still, it’s time to move forward. Let’s get to work.
Eldred, Sullivan County
Chuck Petersheim is a home builder and designer with $200 million in sales, is an emerging voice of authority on all small-business topics related to reopening after the COVID-19 business disruption. He is the founder of Catskill Farms (TheCatskillFarms.com), a leading construction, design and real estate company.
Opinions expressed in Letters to the Editor are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Mid-Hudson News.