More than a month of intermittent rain and recent flooding have significantly impacted the timeline for many homes being built across Central Texas, Emily Blair, CEO of the Home Builders Association of Greater Austin told Community Impact Newspaper.
“As in any industry, time is money,” Blair said. “The costs certainly get passed to the homebuyer as delays occur and processes take longer.”
Burnet County has been hardest hit by the extent of the flooding, Blair said. However, each of the counties in the disaster declared areas—including Travis and Williamson County—are facing building and rebuilding challenges.
Tod Arbogast of Lakeway-based Arbogast Homes said he has been building homes in the Austin area for over a decade.
“We’ve dealt with rain before,” Arbogast said. “But what is unique about this current situation is the extent to which we’ve had rain on and off for such a long time. This creates challenges for site preparation. We’ve not been able to work on some of our sites even if it’s been sunny for a day or two in between rains.”
The extent of project disruption varies, he said, on the construction stage. Projects in the slab stage have been most significantly impacted, Arbogast said, because builders do not want to pour concrete when it is raining or even if there is a chance of rain.
“Any delay on the front end for foundation pouring, framing or excavation definitely delays everything else down the line,” Blair said.
Another critical factor in the timeline moving forward is the type of soil, she said. Central Texas has clay, rock, sand and other types of soil that all differ greatly in the amount of time needed to dry out.
While Blair said it is still too soon to estimate the full scope of the housing delivery delay and associated costs, she remarked that the high demand for housing in the Central Texas market makes this “even trickier.”
“It’s creating a backlog,” Arbogast said. “Not only are our projects delayed, but other projects in the area are delayed, which can have a ripple effect of implications on timelines. Fortunately, we have clients who understand the realities of mother nature. But the rain over the past four to six weeks has slowed down the production schedule, no question.”