by Sandi Goodman, Co-Founder
Homeowners Hub – A one-contact, cloud based, managed solution for all of your homeowner needs.

“The Price is more than I expected,” she said.

If you own a home, you’ve probably heard those words, or thought them, or said them yourself.  Like everything else, the price of home repairs and projects has risen significantly, causing major sticker shock for all of us – myself included.  It has gotten to the point where sending a pack of smelling salts along with the estimate has become a good idea, instead of the laughable joke it once was.

Why is this happening?

There are many factors coming together to cause these increases – the perfect storm COVID not being the least. But, while COVID is not the primary cause for the inflation we are experiencing, it has certainly helped to accelerate trends already in place for many years.  To my mind, there are three major trends occurring concurrently that are contributing to price inflation and I don’t see these trends reversing anytime soon.

The Trends

1. Reduced Interest from Young People in the Professional Trades

For the past 20+ years, students have decreasingly chosen to enter professional trades. Once considered a viable and honorable alternative to a college education, when shop classes were replaced with computer programming and digital arts, professional trades became the step child option for millions of high school graduates and students got the message that trade skills were really no longer worthy of their attention. However, eliminating shop classes, auto mechanics and home economics from the school curriculum reduced students’ exposure to the joys of manually making things and fixing them. It also contributed to a significant decrease in their interest in developing practical, fundamental skills, which has led them to become adults less prepared to take care of their own homes.

2. Lack of Quality Trades People

As an expected outcome of the above, there are now too few quality trades people to meet the growing demand from homeowners. Because the existing US housing stock is aging, the need for master trades people is exponentially growing.  (This does not even address the issue of the huge numbers of professional trades people needed to complete the trillions of dollars of national infrastructure work slated to begin next year). Few people realize that to become a Master plumber, electrician or HVAC technician, a trades person needs 10 thousand hours of working full time in their field, (that’s 5 years,) before they can sit for a  licensing exam. The license is not easy to obtain and requires continuing education credits to maintain, just like many other professions.

3. The Law of Supply and Demand, the Lack of Access, and Price vs Cost.

When increased demand chases too little supply, prices go up. 
When increased demand chases too little supply, access goes down. 

Increased demand, along with increased weather-related damage will guarantee trades people will be busy for many years to come. Being able to get their attention to work on YOUR project will be the primary challenge for many homeowners going forward. When you can’t find anyone to pay attention to you to begin with, price suddenly takes on a different meaning.

To sum up, quality trades people are in short supply. Yes, there are many out there who claim to have strong skills along with high levels of professionalism. But scratch beneath the surface and you will find they are sorely lacking in both. Remember, a cheap job can become the most expensive job you ever paid for. For your next repair or project, instead of focusing primarily on PRICE, focus on hiring the most qualified trades person you can find, one who runs his/ her business professionally, communicates clearly, provides contracts for approval, carries insurance and maintains a license if required in that field. Then understand that the price presented could very well be appropriate and fair for the knowledge and level of professionalism you will receive. Remember you are really paying for their knowledge and expertise and not only their time. Although you may initially feel you are spending more than you should, that could be a good thing. It could be a signal to you that you are on the right track and that you will be glad in the end, when you won’t have to redo the work you’ve just done, that you might have dodged a bullet, and that your COST was actually less than it could have been.

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