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Construction continues in New Mexico

Copyright © 2020 Albuquerque Journal

Builders work on a home in Rio Rancho in 2018. (Greg Sorber/Albuquerque Journal)

Commercial and residential construction in New Mexico is still up and running amid the COVID-19 outbreak.

But it’s not quite business as usual.

Industry representatives are paying increased attention to hygiene at work sites and to the global availability of construction materials.

“These are unprecedented times, and there will likely be a slowdown of labor,” said John Garcia, executive vice president of the Homebuilders Association of Central New Mexico. “We welcome others who may have been displaced out of the hospitality industry. We’ve got work for them.”

Carla Kugler, president of the Associated Builders and Contractors of New Mexico, said she has no knowledge of local commercial construction sites being shut down, but acknowledged circumstances are changing daily.

“This is a safety issue, but workers are being safe with personal protective equipment like masks and gloves,” Kugler said. “There is not a one-size-fits-all approach for a commercial construction project. As long as state and federal health guidelines are being met, there is no reason commercial construction should stop.”

Key to the continuation of construction is the work of local and state building inspectors. At this time, inspectors with New Mexico’s Construction Industries Division and the City of Albuquerque are still working, albeit with social distancing in mind.

“Site managers are following guidance to increase hand-washing stations, postpone group meetings and even adjust things like carpooling,” said Kelly Roepke-Orth, CEO of the Associated General Contractors of New Mexico. “There is no real historical precedent for something like COVID-19, but construction is still strong in New Mexico.”

More than 18,000 people in New Mexico work in the construction industry, according to state data.

As the global economy continues to deal with the fallout of COVID-19, Garcia said the construction sector is bracing for a potential shortage of raw materials like lumber and metal.

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