For many of us, the definition of “home” has evolved this year; it was work, it was school, it was the extent of our socializing and entertaining. This prompted a surge in demand for improvement projects, upgrades, remodels, and new builds – a surge that home industry professionals are striving to accommodate. Global supply chain issues have made this exponentially more difficult. What can you expect if you are about to launch your own project?
What Causes Construction and Remodeling Delays?
Construction and remodeling delays are not a new problem… just ask anyone who updated their electrical system and discovered knob-and-tube behind their walls. Some perennial schedule-busting culprits:
Hidden surprises (e.g. mold, foundation damage, termites, asbestos, and, of course, knob-and-tube!)
DIY gone wrong
Lengthy permit and inspection processes
Supply chain issues and long lead times (not a new issue, but 2021 brought in a perfect storm of factors that have significantly exacerbated it. We’ll talk about this more in a moment)
In a global economy, with a global supply chain, countless factors exert influence. The pandemic is just one of them, albeit a significant one. When you face project delays, you can blame:
Increase in demand. As mentioned, construction and remodeling is booming.
Extended lead times. The demand for everything from flooring and cabinets to tile and hardware to paint and stain is, unsurprisingly, also up. They are in short supply, and builders, remodelers, and homeowners alike face an even longer wait to start, or finish, projects.
Overwhelmed ports. Cargo ships are stacked up at international ports (like Los Angeles and Long Beach, which handle half the country’s imports from Asia), and they cannot clear them fast enough. There is an extraordinary backlog, and products and materials are stranded in containers.
Labor shortages. Finding people to do jobs across the supply chain is a struggle. There is a severe lack of people to make, load, unload, and haul products and materials.
Manufacturer slow-downs or shut-downs. The pandemic caused a critical slow-down in US manufacturing. It has not rebounded yet as companies struggle with parts shortages, absenteeism, and difficulty filling positions.
Lumber shortages. The cost of lumber has gone through the roof. This factor alone pushed the cost of a new build up by an average of $36,000. Sawmills cannot meet demand, and they too, face labor shortages. Starting new mills isn’t plug and play; it takes two years to establish a new operation. To make matters worse, swarms of mountain pine beetles have destroyed entire forests in British Columbia, a major source of lumber to the US.
Other materials, such as steel and gypsum have also increased significantly in price.
Political Factors. Political dissension only adds fuel to the fire. Global unrest has an impact that we feel right here at home. Tariffs are one big issue: currently, there’s a 9% tariff on lumber from Canada, making it even more expensive to import and increasing price volatility.
As you can see, there are factors on top of factors on top of factors; they each have a ripple effect that impacts product availability, pricing, and lead times.
What Can You Do?
Expect delays. They are inevitable – but there are ways that you can mitigate the impact:
Make decisions as early in the process as possible and stick with them. This allows your builder/remodeler to order in a timely manner. It does put a bit more onus on homeowners to really be decisive and put a lot of thought into their selections. With guidance from your home industry professional, you can do it.
Be flexible. Do you have your heart set on a specific product? Manage your expectations; it is important that you are realistic about how your selection will affect the timing of your project.
Choose “in stock” items from ACo vendors. You don’t have to worry about your new faucet, tub, or range being stuck on a cargo ship in LA for who knows how long.
Work with your designer. They can help you select items that from manufacturers that have shorter lead times or find alternatives to the product you had your eye on. ACo works closely with vendors to stay up-to-date on their lead times, stock items, and the best alternatives.
You don’t have to forgo your project or wait until the pandemic is over and the world calms down. You can still achieve remarkable results – but you do have to be realistic about your timeframes and how product/material selections impact your schedule.
What About Builders?
It’s a tough time to be a builder or remodeler. Being in demand is nice, but feeling the crunch of product shortages, cost increases, etc., is stressful, to say the least. Rely on your ACo Design & Sales team for guidance on lead times and in stock products. The ACo team works to be as proactive, flexible, and adaptive as possible in order to continue meeting your needs.
Concerned about an upcoming project? We want you to be excited! Connect with ACoto schedule a complimentary design consultation and get started on your next project.