Construction worker shortage causing higher building costs in Maine

Real estate shortage

PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- Building projects in Maine are taking longer and costing more. One reason is a shortage of workers in the industry, like electricians, plumbers and framers.

That's the finding of the MEREDA Index, the economic indicator that measures the health of Maine's real estate market. The index was unveiled at a sold out meeting in Portland Thursday that drew nearly 800 people.

Paul Peck, the President of the Maine Real Estate Development Association, says the shortage can be traced back to the start of the recession in 2007 when the housing bubble burst and construction dried up.

"You have a whole group of people who left and a whole group of younger students that didn't enter the workforce, that combines to cause a real problem right now."

With fewer workers now in high demand, they can charge more for their services. That drives up construction costs and increases the sale price for home buyers.

Susan Morris of New Height Group is building a new condominium in Portland. Luminato will have 24 units, and 20 are already sold. She says construction costs have gone up 15 percent since she completed her last project in Portland a few years ago. 

Her builder, Landry/French Construction will have more than 50 people a day working at the site soon to complete the project by the summer. Kevin French says the days of contractors making demands of subcontractors are over, and now it's a far more collaborative process that requires a lot of communication.

He also sees the price increases as more of a market correction from the recession days when trade workers reduced prices to stay in business.

According to MEREDA the longer completion times and added costs are leading to cost cutting
or revenue boosting trends like micro-living and finding creative approaches to senior housing.

Industry is also working with Maine's community colleges to try and entice more young people to pursue skilled trades in construction.

 

Copyright 2016 WCSH


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