LONG waitlists for building repairs and renovations could elongate the recovery process from Sunday night's tornado, warn builders and infrastructure experts.
The freak weather event in Horsham's north seemingly could not have come at a worse time, with demand for builders already high post-COVID lockdowns and leading into the Christmas period.
DJ Hogan project coordinator Kellie Mann said business had been incredibly busy from the middle of the year.
"It's definitely going to make it very difficult for any homes that need to be rebuilt (after the tornado)," she said.
"To take on someone's home that has been destroyed, that's going to be adding to the workload and adding extra time on the homes you already have."
Mrs Mann said the federal government's home builders grant had motivated people to build and upgrade homes.
The grant, which was announced in June, offers $25,000 to homeowners and homebuilders spending between $150,000 and $750,000 on their property.
The grant's primary goal was to provide work for the residential construction sector in the wake of a COVID-related downturn.
Mrs Mann said wait times on a new project at DJ Hogan - which is one of the smaller building companies in Horsham - would be approximately 12 months.
Horsham Council infrastructure director John Martin agreed that the damage of the tornado and subsequent repairs could almost not have come at a worse time.
"My understanding is there are some shortages, and it's that time of the year where businesses often cease taking orders due to the Christmas period," he said.
"It might take a while before permanent repairs can be done.
"It's quite a challenge, and some people may have to wait a much longer period than they would have liked."
Mr Martin said council and SES were available for immediate support to persons in need.
"We're very keen to ensure people aren't left stranded," he said.
"If people can't work out what to do with their insurance company, or a builder they might have spoken to, or if they don't have the resources to do the work ... then by all means, they can continue to contact the council.
"SES will also continue to be available to provide support to properties where there are concerns temporary repairs are loose or ineffective."
Elders Insurance Wimmera's Jenelle Christian said her Horsham office dealt with more than half a dozen claims on Monday.
"Unfortunately, (rebuilding) is a process that has fallen ahead of Christmas - it's hard enough to get a tradie in the lead up to the Christmas break without this happening," she said.
"Our first priority is making sure it is safe for people to be where they are, and stopping further damage from happen.
"The second priority is to get quotes and set up expectations for how long this job will take - the challenge at this time of the year is getting tradies on the ground to meet the demand that we've got."
Real estate director Gerry Smith said his clients considered themselves "very lucky" to have avoided the most extreme damage from the storm.
Mr Smith however said beyond repairs related to the tornado, his real estate service had noticed a "shortage of tradesman, full stop" across the last several months.
He said it was likely related to the home builders grant and to COVID-related spending habits.
"Probably the last six months most builders would describe as chaotic," he said.
"I've got tradesmen working for me who are working crazy hours and still having to knock jobs back.
"I think people are spending money on renovations instead of overseas holidays. Interest rates are low as well, so it's attracting interest in real estate.
"It's a very buoyant time."
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