Skilled workers could be in short supply as Omaha-area homeowners try to repair flood-related damage.
Local restoration contractors expect a surge in work over the coming months. Most will lean heavily on an already short supply of trained drywallers, plumbers and electricians.
“It’s hard to find good help to start out with,” said Steve Alstrom, owner of Husker Restoration. “It’s a lot harder to find drywallers, electricians or plumbers. There’s not as much money in it. You can go do five roofs in five days and make more money doing that than doing a kitchen remodel that takes three weeks.”
Paul Davis Restoration, a national company with an office in Omaha, has brought in extra workers from Florida, Wisconsin and Illinois, plus equipment from Kansas. The extra folks will allow the company to triple or quadruple the work it can do.
“We’re using the full resources of our national brand to help as many people as I possibly can,” general manager Martin Mapes said.
Mapes expects a shortage of skilled laborers across the board, particularly with drywallers, because any porous construction materials touched by floodwaters should be considered a loss.
“Everyone wants to use the same base of trades, and eventually it’s going to reach critical mass,” Mapes said. “There’s only so much they can do in a period of time.”
Mapes expects the spike in demand to raise prices for raw materials such as lumber and sheetrock. And he estimated that only about 10 percent of those affected are covered by insurance.
As work orders pile up, some homeowners may have to wait weeks or months for help. Mapes advised homeowners to immediately start airing out their houses to prevent mold. They also can get a jump-start by ripping out carpet, drywall and soiled furniture.
“Dry out your house as fast as possible,” he said. “The last thing these people need on top of all this is a mold issue.”
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