Wet weather in 2017 affecting Northern NV construction industry
RENO, Nev. — The very unusual wet winter that northern Nevada has been experiencing in the early part of 2017 has created some headaches, and in some cases opportunities for those in the construction industry.
For large general contractors such as Q&D Construction, Inc., it has been rough getting going on large-scale construction projects.
Lance Semenko, chief operating officer of Q&D and incoming 2017 president of the Nevada Chapter of the Associated General Contractors, admitted the winter season is usually slow for construction anyway, but what has made this year really difficult is the heavy rainstorms that have saturated the ground.
“When it snows, it’s not that bad because it serves as insulation for the ground,” Semenko said at the groundbreaking for the Summit Club apartment community in South Reno on March 3. “When it rains it creates a lot of environmental concerns for us.”
Semenko said Q&D is way behind on three of its current projects, including The Summit Club and the Rancharrah development.
“With the weather, everything has been pushed back a month,” Semenko said. “All of our projects are still scheduled to get done at the end of the year, but that schedule just got shorter.”
Q&D was able to use some of its manpower and equipment to help with flooding problems at the beginning of the year.
Shaheen Beauchamp Builders, LLC, based in Carson City, has found other ways to battle inactivity, such as turning to renovation projects such as the new Renown Health family clinic at The Summit shopping center in South Reno.
“The question is if you can get out of the ground or not (on construction projects),” said Mark Beauchamp, co-founder of Shaheen Beauchamp. “Most of our work recently has been indoors.”
Beauchamp admitted the general contractor has had to put other projects on hold, including a new medical facility in Carson City.
The weather has proved daunting for subcontractors as well.
Michael Baker, owner of Heritage Painting in Reno has been scrambling to secure work for his staff of four employees because outdoor painting projects have been scarce in inclement weather.
“The longest period we’ve had when there’s dry weather is four days,” he said.
Baker said he has a contract to paint the exterior of a large apartment complex, but the constant precipitation has left that project stagnant for a few months.
Baker coupled that with the fact that when exterior surfaces get wet from precipitation, it takes them longer to dry out when the temperature is cold.
To keep his crew busy, Baker has resorted to networking opportunities, picking up smaller jobs such as repainting the interior of vacant single apartment units or rental houses.
Baker added he’s even willing to take a financial hit this winter in order to keep his employees on staff while crossing his fingers business will pick up again in the spring and summer months.
“The only thing you can do is ride it out and hope better things come your way,” he said.
The constant precipitation has brought some opportunities for others in the construction industry, albeit not without challenges of their own.
King Bee Construction of Reno, has been getting inquiries as a result of damage from the weather, including roof and fencing repairs. They are not licensed roofers, so they refer that work out accordingly. They also have assisted with interior repairs where carpentry is involved.
“We have had an influx of phone calls and I’ve been setting four to five appointments a day,” said Melissa Palange, director of business development for King Bee. “Normally we may have one to two appointments a day.”
She added that even when King Bee is unavailable to do a particular job, they will refer a client to someone else through its involvement in several industry associations, including the Builders Association of Northern Nevada.
Angelo Palange, project manager for King Bee said on some occasions they must wait until the weather clears to even perform a site visit on a project.
“There was one home site in Virginia City Highlands where there was so much snow on the outside of the residence it leaked into the basement,” Angelo Palange said. “We had to wait for the snow to clear to see where the water intrusion point was before we could proceed.”
Depending on the project, Angelo and Melissa Palange recommend home and property owners contact water mitigation contractors before proceeding with repairs.
One of those mitigation contractors that has been getting plenty of work is COIT Cleaning and Restoration. Brian DeLisle, business development manager of COIT’s local franchise, said the company easily has been fielding about a dozen inquiries daily mostly by telephone or through its website — significantly more than usual.
While the situation has brought plenty of business to the company, it has put a strain on COIT’s manpower and resources. DeLisle said the company has about 25-30 employees and has brought temporary and part-time staff to the flood of inquiries. COIT has a fleet of 12 trucks to go to job sites. This winter, it has had to rent more vehicles to keep up with demand.
DeLisle explained that during the flooding in January, COIT had been called out to a home in Wingfield Springs. COIT staff thought they’d sucked all the water out of a flooded crawl space only to find when they returned a few days later to retrieve all their equipment, the crawl space was immersed in water again and the company had to stay and repeat the process.
All contractors agreed that, hopefully, the worst part of the winter is over and sunnier days are on the horizon, both literally and figuratively.
Duane Johnson is a reporter with the Northern Nevada Business Weekly, a sister publication of the Sierra Sun’s and North Lake Tahoe Bonanza’s based in Reno.