The building industry is essential

Thank you for your sacrifices, construction essential workers

A worker at a New Traditions home site sports a hand-made cloth mask. Photo courtesy of New Tradition Homes

While many refer to 2020 as being a particularly difficult year, the silver lining could be a rejuvenation of focusing on what really matters.

Dave Myllymaki

The month-long work stoppage resulted in $1.2 billion lost in construction wages, leaving 188,000 people questioning when they could go back to work to put food on the table for their families. Once the Building Industry Association of Washington and our advocacy efforts got the industry back to work, we were faced with delays in project timelines and limited availability of building products and materials. While appliances take months to arrive, lumber prices soar, and added cost to builders and remodelers continue, those looking to buy homes may find that prices are quickly rising. While we don’t have exact numbers to quantify how many families will be priced-out due to all these variables, recent lumber price information has guided our estimate of 12,612 Clark County families priced-out of buying a home if these trends continue.

This is grim news, as housing is at the core of our most basic needs: physiological (warmth and rest) and safety (security and protection). It is only when we satisfy these most basic needs that we can focus on the other complexities that life brings.

Even though demand for housing shows no imminent declines, our members still find time to give back to the community. We are proud of the generosity our members have demonstrated during the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as the recent wildfires. Our industry is known for being humble and never asking for praise. If you asked many of us, the best thank you for a hard job well done is the smile on your face or the joy you’ll experience in your life.

As a trade association, our paramount duty is to celebrate our members, even if they won’t do so themselves. While we cannot discover every great story or instance of kindness and generosity, we certainly try. Thank you to the following members for going above and beyond in your community involvement and support, even if it means sacrificing time with your own families:

  • Ginn Group provided free, temporary housing for frontline workers at PeaceHealth.
  • Parr Lumber employees made masks for supermarket and retirement center staff to help protect them from COVID-19. The company also setup a relief center for victims of the wildfires in Oregon.
  • Real Living The Real Estate Group, Fairway Independent Mortgage and Generation Homes Northwest all delivered food to medical frontline staff during the early onset of COVID-19.
  • Pacific Perks, Country Financial and Matrix Roofing provided beverages to medical and law enforcement workers.
  • Our utility company members, NW Natural and Clark Public Utilities, both temporarily stopped charging late fees and disconnecting customers for nonpayment. Instead, they began working with customers on bill payment assistance before the governor issued a statewide proclamation requiring these actions.
  • NW Natural raised $100,000 for customers in need through their Gas Assistance Program. They also initiated two special employee giving campaigns: one that supported those displaced or affected by the fires and the second that supports local nonprofits providing COVID-19-related services.
  • Clark Public Utilities crews responded to outages very quickly – often in harsh conditions – and took immediate action to protect public safety. They strategically placed their water/fire response trailers w in high-risk areas and worked closely with local fire departments and emergency responders to contain any potentially dangerous situations before they get out of control.
  • Many, many stories just like those above!

Though just a glimpse into the sort of support our members offer the community in times of crisis, we hope that you will notice the generosity of the building industry and remember that these are the people building and maintaining the essential foundations of your lives: your homes.

Dave Myllymaki is the 2020 BIA president and owner of ReNew Creations LLC. He can be reached at


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