Bulloch home contractors are having to learn to manage price increases and supply chain challenges while they respond to record demand for new homes. Statesboro custom home builder and owner of St. Andrews Builders, Jamey Cartee, described the challenges builders face as unlike anything he has experienced in his career which spans decades.

For the past 16 years, Cartee has been associated with the Southern Living Custom Builder Program.  This program provides him unique insight into housing trends nationally and a network of builders throughout the southeast.  

“I just returned from a meeting with 85 Southern Living Custom Home builders from Florida to Virginia to Texas and they are all experiencing the same challenges that we are here,” said Jamey Cartee.  “The two most pressing issues are the unusually high demand for new homes and the additional resources it is taking to manage price increases and supply chain challenges.”

Bringing it closer to home, Jamey compared the price inflation of his own home which he built two years ago in 2019.  The framing package for his 1,800 square foot home cost $18,000 in 2019.  Today that same package would cost $48,000. The OSB plywood he purchased in 2019 for $8 per 4×8 sheet.  That now costs $32 per sheet.  

Jamey Cartee
Jamey Cartee shows how prices have increased on the same products since 2019 Credit: Grice Connect

Curious as to how other critical product costs have risen he reached out to local vendors to get an idea of how price increases are impacting the local market.  Here is what he discovered on a few items he checked.

  • HVAC flexible duct up 50%
  • Copper tubing up 75%
  • Sheet Metal up 70%
  • HVAC equipment up 40 to 60% depending on tonnage
  • Duct wrap insulation up 35%
  • Freight up 90% to 140%
  • Garage Doors up 65%
  • Fireplaces up 15%
  • Wire shelving up 12%
  • Mirrors up 12%
  • Fiberglass insulation up 30%
  • Foam Insulation up 70%
  • Door casing up 39%
  • 1x4x16 primed trim up 65% 
  • Interior doors up 8% to 10%
  • Exterior metal doors up 8%
  • Vinyl windows up 28%
  • Architectural shingles up 21%
  • Hardie Board 4×8 panel up 20%
  • Concrete up 15%

Added up this easily increases new home construction by 25%.  In spite of this, because the real estate market remains very hot thanks to low interest rates, demand for existing and new homes have never been higher for Bulloch contractors.  The lower interest rates give new homeowners an opportunity to offset these rising costs and maintain a manageable house payment.

When you include labor and COVID challenges it makes for an interesting time to be in the building business.

“When you’re building a custom home it is always nice to have some flexibility to make a few changes as the home progresses,” said Jamey Cartee.  “The supply chain issues make this even more difficult.”

A contractor in many ways is like a conductor in a symphony.  He has to manage all of the challenges listed and the schedules of a myriad of subcontractors schedules.  One hiccup could not only impact the home they are building, but the schedules of many other projects depending on the same subcontractors. 

“It normally takes about six to seven months to build a Southern Living custom home.  To make sure we have the building materials, appliances, light fixtures, etc. when we are ready for them, we have to order as much as possible on the front end of the project,” said Jamey.  “A custom vinyl window normally takes three weeks to get, now can take twelve weeks.  This shows how a small change like the size of a window can impact the build.”

While Jamey, other Bulloch contractors and subcontractors are grateful for the high demand, they want future customers to understand the challenges they are facing in the industry.  Even though the consumer is seeing increases in cost, this is not necessarily benefiting the local builders.

Jamey also recognized the contributions of another great resource for local builders which is the NAHB- National Association of Homebuilders, HBAG- Homebuilders Association of Georgia, and HBA of Statesboro.  These organizations help to keep builders and developers informed about proposed changes in regulations that affect their cost from a local level to a national level.  

This can range from local regulations pertaining to septic tanks to changes to the electrical codes.  They have seen the influence of the Homebuilders Associations in guiding these changes in ways that are not as impactful on the builder and ultimately the consumer.

If you are planning on building a new home, be prepared for some unique challenges builders are facing in this unprecedented time.

Herschel DeWayne Grice is the founder of Grice Connect an online news and information company in Statesboro, Georgia. DeWayne has been active in the media for over three decades. He brings a unique insight...