Have You Hugged Your Builder Lately?
As you may know, I was a builder here in Colorado for about 25 years. I've been through some bad times-the oil shocks of the 70's, 21% interest rates in the early 80's, S&L crisis in the late 80's-but nothing like this. Builders and of course, land developers, are really hurting. They have to plan 2 to 5 years in advance for a new project, and their plans included nothing like this latest credit fiasco!
We get inculcated by the media that these folks are somehow a blight on the landscape-(the word greedy is often times applied as an automatic-reflex-action adjective when discussing these businesses). For instance, it is said they use scarce resources, create urban sprawl (one man's sprawl is another's cozy neighborhood, by the way). But, they are simply ordinary business people trying to make a living by fulfilling a basic need: shelter. As long as you keep making babies, they need to keep building houses.
And the ripple effect of this slowdown is amazing: ask the wives of drywallers, plumbers, carpenters and electricians if they think builders are greedy or somehow unworthy. What a terrible time of year for these families to have to struggle through a long winter, as new homes continue to sit unoccupied. The payrolls paid to these tradesman work their way through the local economy, supporting restaurants, dry cleaners, video stores and scores of others. In fact, you can make a case that a healthy building industry mirrors the health of the local economy. And, since it attracts lots of young workers, a thriving building industry helps keep the younguns around. So, the next time you hear someone complain about "greedy" developers or builders, you'll be able to tell them that these are good folks who live here, too, and that, until they get healthy, the rest of us will continue to feel the pinch in our own particular bailiwick.