Residential construction to resume in Michigan amid COVID-19 pandemic

Construction expected to resume on May 7

COMMERCE TOWNSHIP, Mich. – One of the industries hardest hit by coronavirus (COVID-19) will be one of the first to open back up under Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s reopening plan.

Starting next Thursday, residential construction will be up and running again. Because of the coronavirus outbreak businesses haven’t just lost money, they’ve lost time.

For every worker in the residential construction who depends on the non-winter months to work -- the last seven weeks have been excruciating. But come May 7, developments will surge back to life with construction.

READ: Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer says state’s construction will resume May 7

In eight days, the quiet caused by the stay-at-home order will be replaced by the banging of hammers and roars from table saws. Those sounds will be music to Mike Esper’s ears. His company builds custom decks.

“My employees had been calling every day. You know, ‘How soon? When can we go back to work? Can we do anything?' You know,” he said. “They all want to be safe, of course, you know, I can’t tell you. We’re very excited.”

They can’t get back to work without building permits. That’s where Commerce Township Supervisor Dave Scott comes in. With so many projects about to start and restart, he’s making sure builders have everything they need.

“Private industry is going to jump right back into the saddle. The township’s going to jump right back into the saddle and our inspectors, electrical, plumbing and construction -- they’re going to be booming. They’re just gonna be wearing masks and gloves, taking the precautions necessary. Doing spatial distance,” Scott said.

Esper may have lost two months of work, but he knows he specializes in what may end up being the only legal vacation spot for homeowners for awhile.

“If it’s an old deck they want to rebuild because they know that’s where they’re going to be all summer,” he said.

It’s hard for companies to quantify just how much they lost not working for two months. Esper said he’ll need a mild winter to even come close to making up for it.

READ: Michigan Gov. Whitmer on requesting emergency powers: ‘I have to do this to save lives’

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