Harsh winter means rising costs for those looking to build a home

MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- Those looking to build a home are facing delays, and it's just another thing that can be blamed on this year's harsh winter.

"I've never experienced anything that compared to this (winter)," Lemel Homes President Joel Lemel said.

Kristine Hillmer with the Metropolitan Builders Association says this winter is making it harder for home builders to work. Home builders have been battling two factors this winter -- the extreme cold and the frost depth.

"They're having challenges actually breaking through the frost line in order to dig basements. They're having challenges getting their staff outside and actually working," Hillmer said.

One expert says the frost depth is around five feet, making it both difficult and expensive to dig basements.

Hillmer says some builders are between two and four weeks behind.

"I had one builder report that he had only nine working days in the month of January in order to actually build houses because it's just simply unsafe for their staff to be outside and working in that cold weather," Hillmer said.

Lemel says that unfortunately, the time lost can't be made up.

"It still takes the same amount of hours to accomplish. For example, to frame a house is five, six weeks, so those weeks that you lose and (builders) are sitting home -- they're sitting home," Lemel said.

Workers sitting at home not only delays the project, but affects the workers' wallets.

"They rely on their work in order to get paid. They don't get paid unless there's progress," Lemel said.

Lemel says right now, it's all about working hard when the weather allows, and staying in communication with clients.

"We keep an ongoing dialogue so they're not sitting home wondering what we're going to do or when we're going to do it," Lemel said.

Hillmer says those looking to build a home may be impacted in the pocketbook by a number of factors -- including the work backlog, new demand, a shortage of skilled workers and rising supply prices.

"Consumers may see some significant increases in the cost of building a new home," Hillmer said.