Construction

Gov. Greg Abbott deemed construction workers "essential" during the coronavirus pandemic.
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

People are afraid during this pandemic. And in some cases, they’re more afraid of being out of work and unable to provide for their families than they are of the coronavirus.

Dr. Mark Escott, interim health authority at Austin Public Health, said that's a "substantial barrier" that will "create challenges for us as we try to control the outbreak of COVID-19 in Austin and Travis County as we open things up.”

Thousands of donated masks were dropped off at the Mexican consulate Monday to be distributed to construction workers in Austin.
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

Thousands of masks are on their way to construction workers in the Austin area.

The 100,000 masks were donated Monday by the Austin Emergency Supply Foundation, a new nonprofit made up of business leaders with specific medical supply and logistics expertise.

Texas has deemed construction work as essential and allowed it to continue during the coronavirus pandemic. Austin Public Health requires workers to wear face coverings, practice good hygiene and have their temperature screened daily at constructon sites.
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

Read this story in English.

Funcionarios de Salud Pública de Austin (APH, en inglés) dicen que todavía están haciendo cálculos, pero hasta ahora sus investigaciones muestran que la construcción se une a las instalaciones de cuidado a largo plazo, de cuidado de salud, la construcción y las tiendas de alimentos como las industrias más afectadas localmente por el COVID-19. 

A construction site on South Congress Avenue is one of two cited for violations related to the city's stay-at-home, work safe order.
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

Austinites complained to 311 about people – and businesses – violating the city's and county's stay-at-home orders more than 3,400 times since they were issued in March, according to recently released data from the city.

Of those thousands of complaints, two ended in someone getting a ticket – both of which were for not properly social distancing at a construction site.

Texas has deemed construction work as essential and allowed it to continue during the coronavirus pandemic. Austin Public Health requires workers to wear face coverings, practice good hygiene and have their temperature screened daily at constructon sites.
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

Austin Public Health officials say they’re still crunching the numbers, but their investigations so far show construction joins long-term care facilities, health care and grocery stores as the industries hit hardest locally by COVID-19. The officials say they are still working to determine exactly how many cases have originated and spread from construction sites.

But they claim that number may be hard to pin down.

A construction site in Ausin.
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

Kara says she's been having regular panic attacks over the past couple weeks knowing her husband, a commercial plumber in Austin, is going to work.

Construction workers work on a building in Austin last week.
Julia Reihs / KUT

When Austin Mayor Steve Adler issued a stay-at-home order last week, he laid out the “essential” businesses and activities that could still be done — as long as people maintained proper physical distance from each other. But there was confusion about whether construction projects could continue.

A construction worker at a building site at Trinity and Cesar Chavez in downtown Austin on March 23, 2020.
Julia Reihs / KUT

Click here to read this story in English. 

Cuando la ciudad de Austin emitió la orden de quedarse en casa la semana pasada, no estaba claro cuáles eran las implicaciones para el sector de la construcción. Algunas personas estaban confundidas, y muchos trabajadores continuaron iendo a sus trabajos. Pero, ¿pueden los constructores seguir construyendo? 

No - con algunas excepciones. 

A construction worker at a building site at Trinity and Cesar Chavez in downtown Austin on March 23, 2020.
Julia Reihs / KUT

When Austin issued its stay-at-home order last week, it was kind of vague about construction. Some people were confused, and plenty of builders stayed on the job. So, can builders keep building?

No – with some exceptions.

Construction in downtown Austin last year.
Julia Reihs / KUT

Austin and its suburbs should expect a strong year of new home sales – barring a recession, maybe even the biggest year yet.

Renee Dominguez for KUT

A new study shows immigrants have an outsized impact on Austin’s economy.

Overall, 4.8 million immigrants in Texas paid $34.8 billion in taxes and had an economic footprint of $109.9 billion, according to an analysis of 2017 census data from the bipartisan immigrant advocacy group New American Economy.

Courtesy of We Print Houses

An Austin-based company is ushering in 3D technology that makes it easier for builders to print homes.

Residential building company Sunconomy LLC and California-based Forge New last week introduced We Print Houses, a system that can be licensed by contractors and builders to construct homes in only a few months.

Bill Jacobus/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

If you were to walk south on Congress Avenue in Austin, you'd notice at least six construction cranes. You can see a similar scene in cities all across the Lone Star State. Day and night, construction crews are busy at work, and business is good –  or it would be if there were enough workers to get the jobs done.  

This week, the Associated General Contractors of America released a report with data from 2,500 contractors. It confirms what we've been hearing: There is a labor shortage.

Gabriel Cristóver Pérez/KUT

From Texas Standard.

Construction is a booming business in Texas. The latest numbers from 2016 show it’s a $75 billion industry in the state. There’s more demand for construction workers than there are people willing to do the jobs, and that means it’s gotten hard for contractors like Denis Phocas to hold onto qualified workers.

Gabriel Cristóver Pérez/KUT

From Texas Standard.

According to the latest numbers from 2016., construction is a $75 billion industry in Texas. It’s an industry we’ve reported on before on the Standard. Including a big story last year. While our reporter was on the ground in Houston, she came across something pretty rare; a female construction worker.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

The rising cost of construction has made it harder to build affordable homes in Central Austin, housing analysts said Thursday at the Home Builders Association of Greater Austin midyear housing forecast event.

Miguel Gutierrez Jr., KUT News.

A program the Austin City Council approved in March to fast-track permitting for builders who pay construction workers at least $13.50/hr, offer training in safety and worker's compensation along with other requirements could be eliminated as part of an effort in the Texas legislature to speed up construction permitting.

We spoke to Texas Tribune reporter Andy Duehren about his story on this.


Miguel Gutierrez Jr. / KUT

An increase in immigration enforcement and proposed policies from President Donald Trump may be taking a toll on businesses that rely on an immigrant workforce. Some in Austin's construction community say undocumented workers don’t feel safe reporting to work.

Miguel Gutierrez Jr. / KUT

Have you ever looked up at construction cranes around town and wondered why it takes so long for things to get built in Austin? Developers will quickly say the city's permitting process has a lot to do with it. Now the city is about to start a new program to hopefully speed things up, but with speed comes a new set of rules.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

Austin’s booming population continued to grow in 2016, which helped fuel another strong year for the housing market. But some analysts say the region’s home sales could begin to see a slowdown in the year ahead.

One of the biggest factors that draw people to the Central Texas region – employment – isn’t growing quite as fast as it used to. Eldon Rude, principal of 360 Real Estate Analytics, said that could signal a weaker growth in home sales for the year ahead.

Miguel Gutierrez Jr. / KUT

Builders in Austin have long complained about the city’s notoriously slow permitting process. Now, the city is set to launch a new program that will offer a faster option - but it comes with some costs. 

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

Austin residents are no strangers to orange cones dotting the highways or construction cranes in the sky. But one KUT listener wondered: Why does it take so long to get anything built around here? 


Miguel Gutierrez Jr. / KUT

Amir Khalil and his girlfriend Emily Thomas bought a duplex off South Lamar in February, but so far, it doesn’t feel quite like home.

Khalil points out the damage that’s left over from an incomplete remodel job on the house. The laundry room ceiling bares a gaping hole. In the kitchen, sections of the walls and ceiling have been torn out.


Ilana Panich-Linsman/KUT News

It seems like everywhere you look, there's a construction site in Austin, complete with the unofficial state bird of Texas, the construction crane.

Some are calling it a boom, but it's a boom that’s not exclusive to Austin. Whether you drive south to San Marcos or north to Georgetown, there are new buildings popping up all over Central Texas.

That boom has certainly been good for the economy and overall employment numbers, but, for some smaller construction firms it’s been tough-going trying to compete with larger outfits that can afford to pay workers up to $35 an hour.

Caleb Bryant-Miller/KUT News

The bats that roost under the Congress Avenue Bridge have a hard-flown journey after their nightly show for tourists and passersby.

They cruise over the trees bordering Lady Bird Lake's southern shore – flying up to 40 miles away from the city every night – then come back, roost and feast on insects between Congress Avenue and I-35.

Flickr/austin tx http://www.flickr.com/photos/austintx/

The City of Austin says it has cleared a major backlog of residential permit reviews.

The Planning and Development Review Department’s director Greg Guernsey says they processed more than 650 applications in the last month. The backlog had resulted in people waiting weeks to get city approval for renovations or new home construction. 

Callie Richmond, Texas Tribune

Good morning! Austin’s in for another warm day, although not as hot as yesterday’s record highs: we can expect a high near 80 degrees and increasing cloud cover as the day continues, according to the National Weather Service.

Lead Story: Jury selection began yesterday in the trial of a man accused of killing Michael Morton’s wife in 1986.Morton was the Austin man who spent almost 25 years prison for his wife’s murder, before he was exonerated by DNA evidence in 2011. 

Photo courtesy the Circuit of the Americas

F1 is still three weeks away. Or only three weeks away, as the city is looking at it. Austin is making some big preparations as the big race weekend approaches.

City Cleanup

  • The Public Works Operation will be cleaning up downtown around all the construction sites.
  • City contractors will clean and restore pedestrian access areas downtown.
  • Austin Resource Recovery is planning ahead for the big weekend. They will adding up to 200 additional trash receptacles downtown.  They will also be ramping up their downtown litter control services to extended to a much larger area.

Starting this weekend, you should expect some lane closures on southbound I-35 around Stassney Lane.

Last month, a truck hauling an oversized load ran into the underside of the bridge, damaging it.

Though the Texas Department of Transportation says the crash didn’t make the bridge unsafe, it needs to be repaired – and that’s expected to take more than two weeks.

City of Austin

Construction on Oltorf Street may disrupt your commute this week.

The city has closed part of Oltorf Street between South Congress Avenue and Interstate 35 to complete work on water lines. All westbound lanes are closed. One eastbound lane remains open.

The construction is scheduled to last through Friday but some closures may continue through the weekend.

Pages