There's a home remodeling boom in Colorado right now, but good luck finding someone to do the work

Contractors are so busy they can't keep up
Posted at 1:20 PM, May 01, 2018
and last updated 2018-05-01 21:56:09-04

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DENVER -- If you're struggling to find a handyman or a contractor for a home remodel or just a small job, you're not alone.

There's a home renovation boom in Colorado – but good luck finding someone to do the work.

Contractors have so much work, they can't keep up. The issue is partially related to skyrocketing home values in Colorado.

With rising home prices and low interest rates, Coloradans are taking out home equity loans and spending that cash on fixing up their kitchens, bathrooms and man-caves.

But finding the labor is another story. There simply aren't enough general contractors, handymen and carpenters to handle all the work.

"Right now, I've got enough work to keep me busy through August," said James Fogle with J&G Quality Construction. "It's crazy."

Between the demolition, the subcontractors and a home in complete disarray, homeowner Nathan Brodbeck's head is spinning.

"I've never gone through a renovation before,” said Brodbeck.

But, he's happy the work is finally getting done. Finding a contractor for his home remodel was no easy task.

“Contractors would come to give an estimate and they would spend an hour-and-a-half, two hours listening to me," Brodbeck said. “And then it was literally, no phone calls back. No e-mails. It was just dead silence.”

Some experts believe the shortage may be reaching ‘crisis’ status.

According to a new report from the Home Improvement Research Institutue, 70% of remodelers say they are experiencing a labor shortage. The average delay across the home improvement industry is now 4 weeks.

"People in Colorado tap that equity and are putting it right back into their home. It's smart. The value is worth it," Fogle said.

The other issue is labor. And pot laws aren't helping. While it's legal to use in Colorado, insurance requires contractors to drug test new hires. "If you don't drug test, then (the insurance companies) will test. And they won’t cover your claim," Fogle said.

There's also a generational issue. Most millennials don't want these jobs, according to Fogle. And according to the Associated General Contractors of America, builders and developers are wondering where they’ll find more skilled labor.

“I mean tech, tech, tech has been pushed forever. And so, that’s where they’re at,” Fogle said.

The shortage is unprecedented. A combination of industry veterans leaving the workforce, and the fact that many high school graduates are not interested in blue-collar jobs..

Because of the boom - contractors can also discriminate between big money jobs and small ones.

“Sometimes we do turn down the smaller ones,” Fogle said.

Contractors are also landing nearly all the jobs they bid on.

“I did 7 bids about a week ago. And I got all 7,” Fogle said.