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Navigating Your Remodeling Timeline: Supply Chain Challenges During the Pandemic

Whether we like it or not, expecting manufacturing and shipping delays is the new—albeit hopefully temporary—norm. The pandemic has been rippling its way through the home remodeling industry one product or trade at a time. The dynamics are constantly changing. At this point, virtually every aspect of construction is coming to terms with new standards. Whether that be pricing increases, labor shortages or delivery delays, we’re feeling the pressure across the board. Coupled with extraordinary home project demand, it’s a remodeling world like we’ve never seen before.

Unpredictable Lead Times Changes & Shipping Delays

We’ve talked about lumber and construction supply costs going up during this pandemic, but we also wanted to touch base on supply chain challenges. Lead time and shipping delays are pushing project timelines out in a way we can’t reasonably predict. It’s very hard right now to calculate the exact length of time for a remodeling project. According to Zonda, the parent company of BUILDER Magazine, 92% of builders cite the supply chain as a major problem.

Many suppliers are changing their ordering process, requiring contractors to order certain items, such as cabinets, much earlier than before. This requires even more pre-planning from remodelers, who work hard to time the delivery of items to a jobsite well. Deliver something too early and the room isn’t ready or there’s no where to store it. Deliver it too late and it could hold up other aspects of the project from progressing.

In addition, a project can be significantly delayed just by shipping delays for a single item. This is something entirely unpredictable. If there’s a nationwide shortage of bath faucets, there’s not much we can do to finish a bathroom remodel except wait for that delivery. Even choosing another item as a replacement can further delay the timeline, because when one thing is out of stock most comparable items are out of stock too. Chasing down available items, or installing something temporary, is time consuming and rarely worth the added expense. So typically we wait.

Examples of Current Supply Chain Delays

Our team receives almost weekly notifications of a new supplier, tradesperson or manufacturer delay. The emails all start with the same thing: “Due to unprecedented demand…” and end with an estimate of how long we can expect to wait for said product or service.

  • Cabinets: used to take 6 weeks for delivery are now taking 12-18 weeks
  • Windows: used to take 3 weeks are now taking 9-12 weeks
  • High-end Appliance Brands: now 6+ months out
  • Specialty/Custom Lighting: now 8-12 weeks out

Practicing Patience

No amount of phone calls to customer service can speed the process up. Simply put, we all just have to have patience.

We know we speak for all construction companies out there when we say: we are working as fast and hard as we can! Our nimble team is working overtime. We’re sending more emails. We’re making more calls. We’re triple checking shipping estimates and truly trying our best to anticipate delays.

We are appreciative to every homeowner, subcontractor and sales rep who shows extra grace during this time. We know it’s not easy and no one likes sharing bad news. In this interest of transparency though, it’s best to know what you’re getting into before you embark on a remodel in 2021 or 2022.

Expect a Longer Remodeling Timeline

A major uptick in time spent at home has almost every homeowner aching to do some sort of home renovation project this year. Supply chains are stretched to their limits. Expect more planning time, shipping delays, unpredictable backordered items and a longer remodeling project timeline overall.

You can work with your designer or design-build team to make choices and selections (ready-made or plentifully stocked items) to speed up the timeline, but delays may still be difficult to avoid. Plan to spend more time planning and designing your remodel, so you can begin ordering supplies much earlier than was previously the standard. Be patient and know this stressful time will pass.

Until then, the MRM team will be doing the very best we can to be honest about the remodeling challenges our team is facing so that homeowners can set their expectations accordingly.

Written by Model Remodel

Model Remodel is a design-build, remodeling contractor located in Seattle, WA. For over 20 years we’ve been building with purpose, craftsmanship and sustainability in mind. We are proud to continually make the list of top Seattle contractors for our beautiful interior designs and homeowner-focused remodeling process.

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