Construction workers around the world have been struggling to keep projects on track with the significantly increased wait for materials.
The delays were expected after the entire world was forced to shut down at the start of the pandemic, but no one could have prepared for the extent of which it has affected the supply chain. The outcome has left even people that have been in the industry for decades in shock as they’ve never seen anything like it.
Because of the wait for material delivery, many projects have been delayed significantly. Supplies that were once easily accessible can take months to be delivered. 71% of contractors surveyed are facing at least one material shortage. Lumber was the most-cited material shortage (31%), followed by steel or electrical supplies other than copper wire (11%) and lighting supplies (10%). Builders and contractors try to keep their options open and consider new products, but sometimes there are few to no alternatives.
Why Are There Shortages?
The shortages stem from a series of supply-chain disruptions hitting industries around the world. There has been port congestion in Asia and the U.S. For example, a container was denied entry to China because a crew member tested positive for COVID-19. As a result, the ship was forced to return and the entire crew was replaced. From start to finish, the shipment was delayed two months. There have been many similar instances since the beginning of the pandemic.
Additionally, spending so much time at home during the stay-at-home mandates inspired many people across the country to improve their homes. There was a significant increase in DIY home remodeling during the pandemic. In 2020, Bank of America polled 1,054 Americans about their attitudes and shopping habits during coronavirus and found that more than 70% have decided to tackle home improvement projects, with more planned for 2021.
Another factor is the labor shortages at factories. For months, the media has been reporting on the general labor shortage in the United States. For many manufacturing companies, the need to hire more employees is a critical dilemma. Manufacturers say it is 36% harder to find talent today than in 2018 — even though the unemployment rate is much higher today. More than three-quarters of manufacturing executives (77%) surveyed said they expect to have trouble attracting and retaining workers this year and beyond. “Throughout the executive interviews conducted during this year’s study, a resounding distress signal kept repeating itself: ‘We can’t find the people to do the work,'” the report said.
Heavy storms in Texas and Louisiana have also slowed production of some building materials, while a shortage of semiconductors has made home appliances more difficult to ensure. Parker Young, president of Straub Construction in Shawnee, Kansas, said he switched to different insulation materials after storms in Texas earlier this year made it difficult to source some types of petroleum-based roofing, adding about $20,000 toward the cost of two apartment construction projects. Waiting for meetings would have added six to nine months to the 14-month projects.
Tips for your project
Here at Built to Last we get around these delays by ordering materials as soon as possible. If you would like a project finished in the spring, think about ordering materials this winter. We also try our best to find alternate materials that can be delivered sooner. Although these delays can be frustrating, we do everything we can to ensure your project will stay on track.