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Don Magruder, CEO RoMac Building Supply


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The Home of the Future — Wood, Steel, or Concrete

May 5, 2021 8:00:00 AM / by Don Magruder, CEO RoMac Building Supply

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Since the start of the pandemic, the national framing lumber composite by Random Lengths has increased by more than $600 dollars per thousand, which has more than doubled in cost. This has a lot of builders rethinking how their homes in the future should be constructed with some builders looking to full metal and concrete construction to see if there are cost benefits. It is a complicated decision, because each product category has its own unique challenges for construction and future availability.

The price for dimensional lumber has increased a lot over the last year, and the budgets for many construction project owners are overrun with huge price increases. Lumber has some unique benefits despite these higher prices. First, it is a totally renewable source of building materials, which is plentiful in the United States. Forestry is a thriving industry in Florida and across the South. Plus, new hybrids in trees are allowing for much faster growth times. Wood construction is easier, and a framing crew can generally frame a home as well as side and deck the house. Less subcontractors are needed for wood frame construction. More importantly, wood frame construction is more forgiving when changes are needed and for remodeling projects. Finally, despite the cost increase, framed construction remains the lower cost option when it comes to building a home.

Concrete construction for projects is plentiful in Central and South Florida. If installed properly, concrete walls add a great degree of protection from the elements and termites. The two big issues with masonry construction are labor and water infiltration. Good masonry crews that can install block and slabs without excessive cracking are hard to find and the same crews that block the walls cannot install trusses and decking. In this era of a tight labor market, the project owner is forced to find other crews to finish the job. Concrete is not immune to price increases as most concrete and blocks have increased in price from 10 to 20 percent in the last year. Shell contractors in the Orlando and Tampa areas are reporting block shortages with manufacturers instituting controlled inventories or allocations. Pre-poured concrete wall systems offer big challenges for installation and logistics when being considered for residential construction. Plus, the cost and safety factors are very difficult to overcome.

Concrete is made with sand and limestone in Florida and the natural minerals needed to make concrete are plentiful in the state. However, many Floridians are growing weary of the huge holes being dug into the ground, which are polluting waterways and aquifers. The phosphorus retention pound disaster in Manatee County, Florida highlights why more Floridians are opposed to this type of mining. Bringing in the raw materials to manufacturer block and concrete via rail or boat dramatically increase the price.

Steel framing is very popular for commercial projects and more residential contractors are incorporating steel framing into their designs. Good steel framers are very difficult to find, and a crew that installs steel framing rarely installs decking or interior wood walls. While steel framing offers a good straight wall, it is not forgiving when changes must be made to the project.

Since the first of the year, most steel framing has gone up 25 percent in price with a couple of pending increases announced for the summer. Anything that is made of steel has gone up in price and the worldwide demand for steel is outstripping resources. America’s steel industry is woefully behind and there appears to be a lack of will to expand manufacturing because of the uncertainty of a long-term payback. America simply does not have the scrapping capabilities as that of many other developing countries.

With all of this, in my view the home of the future will be the same as the home of the past—wood framing. My reasoning is simple: raw materials. With the stimulus bill and a potential huge infrastructure bill by the Biden Administration, steel and concrete will be in high demand globally, especially as the pandemic resolves itself. There could be huge shortages of concrete and steel if the country starts a major rebuilding of infrastructure. Wood, on the other hand, is plentiful in the United States and does not have the negative environmental impacts of steel and concrete.

Prices will find trading ranges, but first you must have the material. Even at much higher prices—considering the labor savings, environmental impact, availability, and renewable source—lumber remains the best value for construction projects.

Don Magruder is the CEO of RoMac Building Supply and host of Around the House.

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Five Tips for Speeding up Your Construction Project in This Market

Apr 28, 2021 9:47:18 AM / by Don Magruder, CEO RoMac Building Supply

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If you talk to any homeowner, builder, remodeler, or subcontractor who is building a project with the current supply market during the pandemic, the two words most used are “expensive” and “delays.” Everything is going up in price with many building supplies hitting record high prices. Even worse are the delays due to extended lead times, labor shortages, material shortages, and transportation challenges. Projects that could be completed in four months before the pandemic are taking double that amount of time to complete. The stress factor is elevated well above the red zone.

When it comes to construction, time is money. In some cases, these huge delays are more costly than the price increases on building materials. In fact, more and more contractors are more worried about supply than price.

If you are planning a construction project, here are five tips you should consider in helping speed up your project.

First, hire the right construction professional who is well-funded, properly licensed and insured, and has the wherewithal to get the job done in difficult circumstances. A construction professional that is weak financially or who cannot handle the increased pressures of updating bids and monitoring costs can be devastating to your project, because when they run out of money they will disappear. Even the good guys are hard to find when there is nothing but bad news. Now is the time for a construction professional.

Next, ask your suppliers what they stock and try to make stock products work for your project. Many delays occur because project owners are ordering and specifying products, which are special order, with disjointed manufacturing, being shipped from overseas, or have real labor issues. Products that are special orders are experiencing extremely long lead times. If you insist on ordering special order items from overseas, you should understand that they could get stuck in the Suez Canal or put on a backlog at some point. You can always remodel and enhance your project later when supply lines improve.

Third, double check the details of your project. If you do not have good construction plans drawn or have the details thoroughly noted in all aspects of the project, expect delays. Ordering products last minute is a time killer, and this is where most projects are falling apart these days. Builders and homeowners who are used to ordering the materials a few days before the installation are finding out that it just does not work. Making a mistake in ordering because you have the incorrect size, style, or color for an item becomes very costly from the time delay and expense of having to reorder that item. It is imperative that you double check the details of your project and ensure everyone has signed off on them.

Creating a real budget for the project is probably the most important tip. Earlier, I mentioned the record high prices for building materials. There are projects that are literally running out of money because the budgeting was so poor. The RoMac Building Supply Whole House Commodity Index surged a whopping 58.4 percent from April 2020 to April 2021, and most project budgets cannot withstand this type of massive increase. It is imperative you make an accurate budget and update it weekly and monthly as the markets rise or fall. Running out of money can slow down your project and create a huge loss for you and your family.

Finally, there is gold in those building supply stacks! A sheet of CDX pine plywood has more than tripled in price. If it is left on your jobsite unattended, expect it to grow legs and walk off. Jobsite theft is the worst it has ever been, and desperate people are willing to steal building materials from your jobsite. Be sure to keep from loading your jobsite with materials you cannot use daily and secure all high-value items. If you have HVAC items or a one-of-a-kind door or window stolen from your jobsite you will not only lose a lot of money, but you will also lose a lot of time.

The best thing any person can do to have a successful construction project is focus on taking the steps to shorten the period of time from start to finish. These days, time truly is money!

Don Magruder is the CEO of RoMac Building Supply and host of Around the House.

Read More

Five Tips for Speeding up Your Construction Project in This Market

Apr 28, 2021 8:00:00 AM / by Don Magruder, CEO RoMac Building Supply

0 Comments

If you talk to any homeowner, builder, remodeler, or subcontractor who is building a project with the current supply market during the pandemic, the two words most used are “expensive” and “delays.” Everything is going up in price with many building supplies hitting record high prices. Even worse are the delays due to extended lead times, labor shortages, material shortages, and transportation challenges. Projects that could be completed in four months before the pandemic are taking double that amount of time to complete. The stress factor is elevated well above the red zone.

When it comes to construction, time is money. In some cases, these huge delays are more costly than the price increases on building materials. In fact, more and more contractors are more worried about supply than price.

If you are planning a construction project, here are five tips you should consider in helping speed up your project.

First, hire the right construction professional who is well-funded, properly licensed and insured, and has the wherewithal to get the job done in difficult circumstances. A construction professional that is weak financially or who cannot handle the increased pressures of updating bids and monitoring costs can be devastating to your project, because when they run out of money they will disappear. Even the good guys are hard to find when there is nothing but bad news. Now is the time for a construction professional.

Next, ask your suppliers what they stock and try to make stock products work for your project. Many delays occur because project owners are ordering and specifying products, which are special order, with disjointed manufacturing, being shipped from overseas, or have real labor issues. Products that are special orders are experiencing extremely long lead times. If you insist on ordering special order items from overseas, you should understand that they could get stuck in the Suez Canal or put on a backlog at some point. You can always remodel and enhance your project later when supply lines improve.

Third, double check the details of your project. If you do not have good construction plans drawn or have the details thoroughly noted in all aspects of the project, expect delays. Ordering products last minute is a time killer, and this is where most projects are falling apart these days. Builders and homeowners who are used to ordering the materials a few days before the installation are finding out that it just does not work. Making a mistake in ordering because you have the incorrect size, style, or color for an item becomes very costly from the time delay and expense of having to reorder that item. It is imperative that you double check the details of your project and ensure everyone has signed off on them.

Creating a real budget for the project is probably the most important tip. Earlier, I mentioned the record high prices for building materials. There are projects that are literally running out of money because the budgeting was so poor. The RoMac Building Supply Whole House Commodity Index surged a whopping 58.4 percent from April 2020 to April 2021, and most project budgets cannot withstand this type of massive increase. It is imperative you make an accurate budget and update it weekly and monthly as the markets rise or fall. Running out of money can slow down your project and create a huge loss for you and your family.

Finally, there is gold in those building supply stacks! A sheet of CDX pine plywood has more than tripled in price. If it is left on your job site unattended, expect it to grow legs and walk off. Jobsite theft is the worst it has ever been, and desperate people are willing to steal building materials from your job site. Be sure to keep from loading your job site with materials you cannot use daily and secure all high-value items. If you have HVAC items or a one-of-a-kind door or window stolen from your job site you will not only lose a lot of money, but you will also lose a lot of time.

The best thing any person can do to have a successful construction project is focus on taking the steps to shorten the period of time from start to finish. These days, time truly is money!

Don Magruder is the CEO of RoMac Building Supply and host of Around the House.

Read More

The Right to Refuse Service

Apr 21, 2021 8:00:00 AM / by Don Magruder, CEO RoMac Building Supply

0 Comments

Most construction, remodel, and home repair professionals are very independent. Unlike many of the big-box retailers in America, if they do not like you or they feel you will be a difficult client, they will officially or unofficially refuse service. It happens every day and, for the most part, the homeowner does not realize they are being dissed by the home professional.

For instance, have you have been told one of the following when you inquired about getting some work done around your home?

“I would really like to, but right now I am too busy.”

“We do not have the equipment or personnel to do your job.”

“This job is more than we can handle right now.”

Even worse, they never get back with you or return your telephone call.

Finally, the quote is outrageously expensive, and they are unwilling to compromise on the price.

There is a good chance that if any of this has ever happened to you, then the home professional does not want your business, because they do not like you, do not trust you, or you have a history of complaining and being unreasonable. There is not much you can do about someone not liking you. You might remind them of a bad relative or neighbor, or it could be that generationally you are not a good fit. If you are a hip millennial trying to hire an old school craftsperson from the baby-boomer generation, you probably do not speak the same language.

It could be your political stance regarding who you support or a stand you have taken in the community, which has spurred the dislike. Several years ago, a woman who was extremely vocal in her support of the Lake County anti-growth movement, which supported restrictions and high impact fees, complained that she could not get anyone to work on her home. If you are against people in the construction industry, chances are the good companies will not want to do business with you. The other aspect is the bitter partisan divide in our country. A sign or flag in your yard might anger half the people, including the person you want to hire. Although you have a right to freedom of speech, it comes with consequences. People do not have to work for you.

Trust is an intangible that you must instill in others. If you meet a construction professional and you talk about how you believe everyone is there to rip you off or you mention withholding payment to people for not doing the work to a standard you desire; chances are, that professional will not trust you. The way your home looks can invoke or revoke trust. If your home looks like a mess and you do not have the details of your project well-conceived, then chances are the home professional will tell you goodbye. Great home professionals will not work for people they do not trust.

Okay, everyone gets it—you want it your way. You speak your mind, and you pride yourself on writing negative reviews on the internet if you are not completely satisfied. You should understand that most construction professionals will search the internet for information about you, scanning through reviews and social media posts to get a feeling as to your character and trustworthiness. If they find an abundance of negative online reviews and posts from you concerning the people you do business with then a huge red flag will go up.

Most construction professionals talk among themselves more than a group of older ladies at a church social. If you are disrespectful, refuse to pay, or treat another person in their group badly, then you will be blackballed by the industry and you will not be able to find anyone decent to work for you.

Eventually, you will find someone to do your work. This is how scammers and disreputable people operate. They prey on the people who are desperate to get work done around their home after they have been turned down by all the good craftspeople.

Your reputation is just as important as the person you are hiring, so be careful. Many of you are now realizing you have been refused service and did not even know it.

Don Magruder is the CEO of RoMac Building Supply and host of Around the House.

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New Housing Boom Will Not Be Like the Last One

Apr 15, 2021 3:14:28 PM / by Don Magruder, CEO RoMac Building Supply

0 Comments

The disinformation and uniformed opinions disseminated on social media are stunning
and those who have no understanding of the construction industry and housing are
spewing that Florida and America are heading to a repeat of the 2005-2008 housing
boom and crash. Just because housing prices are rising and inventory is low does not
mean there is a pending boom or crash, for the reason that the fundamentals in the
housing market are totally different.

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