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The high cost of farming, part three: What to ask your builder now

7-06-21 lead image part three 07219001E-1540x800-farm-building-mike-wilson.jpg
You don’t want to sign a contract to build unless you’re confident your builder has a crew ready and available.
If you’re ready to pull the trigger on a new bin or building, make sure you ask these questions first.

** This is part III of a series. Check out Part I-- The high cost of farming, part one: Inflation takes its toll and Part II-- The high cost of farming, part two: New build decisions

Lumber prices that had quadrupled during the pandemic are now coming back to earth. If you are planning a new build on your farm, ask these questions before you sign a contract.

Will your builder be able to do the job before year-end? The only way to know is by requesting a quote for your project. Increased prices haven’t slowed a lot of purchases, thanks to low interest rates, so that means labor and materials could still be in short supply this fall and winter.

“If you go to purchase a building today, you could wait a very long time to get it,” says Mark Billstrom, president of Lester Building Systems. “I can’t speak for all post-frame builders, but some have basically shut off their books for the year. Our lead times are certainly longer than usual.”

Does the work crew matter? You don’t want to sign a contract to build unless you’re confident your builder has a crew ready and available. Ask your builder if their construction crew works in-house or is subcontracted out, which could lead to job jumping. Make sure you get a crew with lots of experience; since labor is in short supply, your work crew’s résumé matters.

What about material backlog? Ask your builder if the operation has all the materials needed to make your build happen. For a typical wood-frame building with a steel exterior and overhead doors, windows, etc., some items may be backlogged, causing the overall build to be delayed.

How can I be sure the building gets erected on time? Resolve as many potential obstacles that are within your control as possible. That could include color choices, site prep or permitting issues.

If you sign a contract, make sure you know how long prices are good for in that contract. If you miss a deadline, a builder’s backlog could come into play and push your build much further into the future and bring with it potentially higher costs.

Next and last in the series: Where will anhydrous, lP gas prices be by harvest time?

Check out Part I-- The high cost of farming, part one: Inflation takes its toll and Part II-- The high cost of farming, part two: New build decisions

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