Itch to Renovate & Rebuild Homes Surges Throughout Virus Pandemic

GETTING SUBCONTRACTORS on-site (and on time) has been a continuous challenge for some local design and build firms given the current high demand is having them flush with projects to work on. (Photo: Courtesy DuBro Architects + Builders)

The first “guests” many people invited into their homes as the Covid-19 lockdowns eased were professionals to help fix it up…when they’re free, that is.

Design and build firms based out of the City of Falls Church are part of one of the fortunate industries that have prospered during the pandemic, and that stems from locals paying closer attention to their abodes.

“People are much more keenly aware of their surroundings,” said Jeff DuBro, the founder and architect at DuBro Architects + Builders located along S. Maple Avenue. “Our clients have been more attuned to their homes, what they really want out of their homes and what they want for their family.”

This trend isn’t unique to local businesses. CNBC reported a 58 percent annual increase in project leads for home professionals in the month of June, according to Houzz, an online home remodeling platform. That’s included more extravagant additions, such as pools. Per CNBC, Poolcorp, a global distributor of swimming pool supplies, parts and outdoor living products, hit an intraday all-time high on Wall Street last month.

Residents in and out of Falls Church are focusing on either adding more space or repurposing what they’ve already got.

Zach Gasper, the director of design at GreenSpur, Inc. located off W. Broad St., said that their company’s clients are expanding their existing homes, adding a detached accessory structure in their backyards or buying property in rural areas. It’s building on a slow-rolling trend that existed prior to the pandemic and now appears to be barreling toward the mainstream.

“We just signed on a project to design a multipurpose backyard cabin in Fairfax. The goal is to create a space where kids and adults alike can retreat to — with a great connection to nature,” Gasper wrote to the News-Press. “We also just started work on a very modest 1,500 sq.ft. home out in Rappahannock County that will become our clients’ full time residence after they sell their home in Clarendon.”

It’s also forced these firms to get creative with how they follow health guidelines.

DuBro has established a rule where if they’re working in a client’s home who is also staying there, his team has to maintain strict boundaries between where the customer lives and his crew works.

SETTING UP new safety protocols to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus is one of the ways that Jeff DuBro at DuBro Architects + Builders is keeping projects humming along. (Photo: Courtesy DuBro Architects + Builders)

For the most part this hasn’t been a problem; however, one client who was having work done on their master suite didn’t have anywhere else in their house to sleep.

The project was about to be called off, until DuBro’s team offered to move the client’s bedroom furniture to another room while they made foundational changes to the suite.

More work is good for everyone…except those who want their projects done soon.

It’s gotten so busy that DuBro said new clients who reach out to him will likely have to wait until next summer before his crew can get around to working on their home.

GreenSpur is experiencing a challenge in getting subcontractors to their work site on time given how in demand they are.

“Subs seem to show up 2-3 days late for all trades these days, which may not seem like a long time considering a project can take 10-12 months, but those days add up when you have 10 or more subs on a project,” Gasper wrote.

Fabricated products, such as cabinets, bathtubs, prefabricated staircases and windows, to name a few, are also taking longer to get a hold of.

As Gasper said, “Basically anything that is built in a warehouse then shipped to you for installation,” has a noticeable lag time.

He attributes the delays to factories being shut down at the start of the pandemic and stuck playing catch-up ever since.

Despite being an exceptionally busy time and some of the bottlenecks in supply and help that come with that, the local firms are just glad that their customers are managing to dodge the worst financial effects of the crisis.
It’s what is keeping their businesses healthy in the process.

“It’s kind of surreal, because there’s a real economic concern in this country, and yet on our side, we have not directly experienced that, and the clientele that are in this area that are reaching out have not felt that,” DuBro said. “Our work hasn’t really changed; it’s only become more valuable.”