By Jill Nagy
Construction work in the area appears to be back on track, though labor issues are still a concern.
“We’re close to having work scheduled out for about a year,” Tom Albrecht of Hilltop Construction in Hudson Falls estimated. Similarly, Rob Holbrook of V&H Construction in Fort Edward, noted that his company is booking work for the first quarter of 2022. Both do projects throughout the Saratoga, Glens Falls and North Country area.
“If you are thinking about a project, you probably should act sooner rather than later,” Holbrook advised.
Both also have similar complaints: a shortage of skilled workers looking for jobs and rising prices and long delays in obtaining materials, including appliances.
Albrecht said business is “fabulous” but there is a “very healthy” shortage of materials and escalating prices. Special order items can take four to 10 weeks to arrive. That delays normal timelines.
V&H, for example, is a dealer for Butler pre-engineered buildings, mainly steel storage and similar structures. Holbrook is experiencing long delays because steel is in short supply and he expects steel prices to increase by about 10 percent a month for the rest of the year.
Lumber prices have also been increasing but that trend seems to be leveling off, he said.
Both companies build a combination of residential and commercial structures. V&H also act as construction managers, working with sub-contractors.
V&H is just completing the renovation of a former bank at 237 Glen St. in downtown Glens Falls. They are also renovating the second floor ballroom at Sun Castle, a wedding and events venue; building a warehouse in Greenwich, and a doing work on a car dealership in Warrensburg.
Summer can be a slow time of year for construction, Holbrook said, but this year “opportunities keep coming in. It’s pretty amazing.”
They were even able to work during the lockdown early in the pandemic. That project was the Common Roots Brewery in South Glens Falls.
The company also builds a lot of individual houses, including lakefront vacation homes, but, so far, no subdivisions.
Hilltop’s schedule includes new Stewart’s Shops in Ballston Spa and Utica, a steel building in Queensbury, and custom homes, including lakefront homes on Lake George and lake Luzerne. Their projects are mainly in the Glens Falls area and Albrecht estimated there is a fairly even split between residential and business projects.
So far, Holbrook said, his company has not had to turn down any work for lack of employees. However, he worries that some projects in the next month or so could be a problem.
V&H has been in the construction business for 27 years. Currently, they have 25 employees. He sees his biggest challenge keeping a good labor force, especially experienced employees.
Hilltop has been in business for 45 years and they have 32 people on their staff, including five family members. Albrecht, the president and CEO, has been doing construction work since he was 19 years old. He has no immediate plans to retire.
“I enjoy what I do,” he said, “When you love what you do, you don’t work a day in your life.” He calls his work “building people’s dreams.”
V&H can be reached at 518 746-1520. Hilltop’s phone is 518 798-0338.