Baton Rouge homebuilders are still building

While several industries were turned on their heads this week in response to the spreading COVID-19, homebuilders are still working on future residences in the Capital Region. 

Despite the economic uncertainty, Saun Sullivan, CEO of Denham Springs-based DSLD Homes, says he’s seen decent consumer demand this week. But he has concerns over how the business will keep building houses if the local governments temporarily close, cutting them off from receiving permits or completing home inspections. 

“Everything in production is normal,” Sullivan says. “But we expect to get some problems in the system, and we’ll deal with those as they come up.”

In the meantime, the company is building, showing and selling homes, though he notes that they’re increasingly giving virtual tours. 

Local homebuilder Scott Bardwell, of Bardwell Homes, hasn’t been impacted yet, but he knows it’s coming. Bardwell Homes has 36 homes under construction and has slowed down on construction of spec homes so that the company can focus on fulfilling the contracts in place. 

He’s trying to prepare by buying additional supplies and making selections for homes faster to get orders shipped in. He’s also working with the city regarding permitting and inspections needed. 

“My concern is what will be the impact on banks and our credit facilities,” Bardwell says. “Homebuilders need to visit with a bank and make a plan. Be proactive in managing draws properly so you cannot get caught without cash.”

Amid the news of more municipalities or states moving to enact shelter-in-place mandates, Karen Zito, president and CEO of the Home Builders Association of Greater Baton Rouge, has been working to educate local entities that builders—and other workers in the construction industry like electricians, plumbers and HVAC technicians, are essential workers. 

Zito is telling member companies to expect delays in construction from supply chain disruption, workforce unavailability and permitting. 

“It’s very important for the community to understand homebuilding is highly regulated and can’t occur without government support,” Zito says. “Permits and other governmental approvals are necessary throughout any project’s completion.”
Read more stories on how Baton Rouge businesses are responding to the coronavirus outbreak.

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