Economy & Business
10:24 am
Wed March 5, 2014

Milwaukee's Cold Weather has Caused Six-Week Delays in Some Home Improvement Projects

So far this winter, we've experienced 28 days of below-zero temperatures. While construction workers bear bad weather, sometimes their tools fail.

Our frigid winter has been adding time and cost onto many home construction projects

David Pekel, president of the Milwaukee chapter of NARI -  the National Association of the Remodeling Industry, says when the temperature is too low, some mechanical tools don't function properly, so projects stall.

"I think most people understand, but with a six-week delay in the schedule, people's patience (is) beginning to wear thin,” Pekel says.

Pekel says the delays are also stressful for construction workers. When they can’t work, they file for unemployment benefits, and they’re noticeably smaller than paychecks.

"It's really causing people to have to tighten their belts and to defer some of their own expenses, because they don't have the income that they normally would have and that they've budgeted to have because they were expecting to have steady work," Pekel says.

Pekel says the home projects that companies make sure to finish, despite frigid conditions, are emergency repairs - such as plumbing and heating problems. But some customers might face sticker shock.

"This is the time of the year when many manufacturers traditionally impose their price increases for the first quarter. Those price increases can range from anywhere, on the low end, of 5 percent, to the high end of 15 percent,” Pekel says.

Now if your project was not an emergency and has been delayed, price increases might hit you too.

"When a contract is written, and contracts of course vary from company to company and from project to project, it's generally written in the context that prices can be guaranteed for a prescribed amount of time. If the time-frame goes beyond what those agreed-upon costs fell within, then someone is going to have to pay the increase,” Pekel says.

Pekel says, in some cases, suppliers may absorb part of the hit, so might the contractor. Or, they might pass along the entire increase to the consumer, because the delays were out of everyone’s control.