If you’re considering buying a new home, renovating an old one, or even an interior refresh with new furniture, expect delays for the next 12 months or so. Having realistic expectations about timelines will help you get through your project without the additional stress of worrying why it’s taking more time than expected.
“Why is my project taking so long?” is the number one question heard at the moment by businesses working within the architecture, engineering, and construction industries. Shockingly, it’s a widespread concern being experienced around the globe. The major increase in demand for home remodelling is facing significant delays on the supply side.
Let’s take a look at what factors are involved. First, the elevated demand side of the problem.
Starting in 2019, stuck-at-home consumers turned their attention to improving their home environments. If we didn’t completely love our space, if it wasn’t comfortable enough, if it didn’t accommodate working from home, and so on, we set out to change it. Unused travel and activity budget dollars were shifted to home improvement budgets, enabling homeowners to take on some big remodelling projects.
However, over on the supply side of the problem, multiple issues were (and still are) working together to produce a perfect storm. The pandemic caused a severe disruption in the supply chain, leading to lengthy project delays and headaches.
Many factories, warehouses, and shipping companies were forced to stop operating for an extended period during the pandemic. Sometimes more than once. The shut-downs caused a massive backorder issue across the globe, that some companies are still struggling with.
Lower Capacity Operations
Many businesses are still not operating at their pre-pandemic full capacity. Whether it be for safety reasons or lack of workers (labour shortage is a related problem), production is slower than normal. Some factories continue to close down due to COVID-19 outbreaks.
On job sites when a worker is sick and has to stay home, it causes timing delays. Or if a decision is made to spread out the trades’ work to avoid overlap (prevent contact), it also stretches schedules out further.
Global Material Shortages
Due to the above reasons, material shortages are at an all-time high. This includes wood, metal, glass, fabric, and cement. Therefore materials required to build homes and to make fixtures or furniture are getting harder to source. The result is forcing out lead times.
“We’ve had reps calling us regarding material shortage for glass, moulding and baseboards, cement, paint. . . this is something we haven’t seen in the industry before.” – Suzanne Di Meglio, Director of Operations
Shipping Container Shortage
You may have heard about this in the news: we’re facing a worldwide container shortage crisis, which clearly affects the timely shipping of goods from Europe or Asia to North America. If you’re interested in learning more about this issue, here’s a very good article from the global shipping services company Hillebrand.
The other issues complicating the situation include some businesses (especially manufacturers) being completely unprepared for the pandemic. Many companies struggled to adapt in a timely fashion which caused a ripple effect on the businesses that depend on them, as well impacting the end consumers.
Vulnerabilities were exposed. For example, businesses that hadn’t stockpiled key materials or didn’t diversify suppliers were caught empty handed during the beginning of the pandemic.
The rocky US-China trade relationship is another big complication: Trump’s trade war from 2018 lasted 18 months, and started the backlog of shipping/delivery delays. Although trade is booming now – despite the mass shutdowns of Chinese factories in February 2020 – there are still significant bottlenecks at the ports.
‘Basic’ Scheduling Delays
Even if you planned your home renovation project carefully in pre-pandemic times, delays could easily happen—and continue to happen on top of the pandemic-related delays.
Some of the most common ‘basic’ delays include unexpected pre-existing home conditions, bad weather, slow decision making, permits & inspections, scheduling issues, change orders, and long lead times.
How Will This Affect Your Construction Project?
The extent of the supply chain ‘domino effect’ on your project depends on several factors, such as the project size; scope of work; materials being used; level of customization required, etc.
If you’re incorporating materials such as imported tile, special-order flooring, or windows and exterior doors, definitely be prepared to wait longer than in pre-pandemic days. Since these items usually need to be installed in a certain order, sufficient lead time is needed to avoid grinding progress to a halt.
Project starts are dependent on the availability of workers and the arrival of specific materials. If any of these are delayed, it’ll push out the start date.
Below are a few specific points to keep in mind:
Windows and Exterior Doors
- Expect 14-week lead time due to glass shortage
- Delay is causing us to move window selection up in the design phase; ordering earlier to ensure they arrive in time.
- Windows and exterior doors are ordered at the start of the design phase (previously these products would be ordered near the end).
Tiles and Flooring Products
- Decisions on tiles and flooring must be made early in the design stage.
- NOVERO looks into the stock of selected tiles to ensure they’ll be available in time for project. If tiles are out of stock, we’ll have to place the order early to ensure our order will be in the next shipment of tile.
- Large changes within tile lines have caused many products to be discontinued.
- Freight charges have increased, affecting overall costs.
We hope this has shed some light on a complicated topic!