Material and supply shortages linger as pandemic begins to dissipate
2020 caused most small renovation and remodeling projects to grind to a halt as lawmakers scrambled to decide what projects were essential and which were not. As the industry enters the second half of 2021, vaccine availability means things are starting to return to normal. However, the materials shortage and supply chain issues that plagued the industry last year have continued into 2021.
Which materials are still in short supply, and what can be done to keep the industry moving forward despite these shortages?
Pandemic Material Shortages
By the end of 2020, upwards of 70% of contractors reported they had experienced at least one material shortage, with lumber being the most commonly cited. A residential construction boom during the pandemic, among other factors, led to a dramatic shortfall and much higher prices than were observed during the previous year.
The pandemic may have been the tipping point, but it isn’t the only variable to blame for the growing material shortage. High costs and exorbitant material tariffs for items imported from Canada, Mexico and China have all played a role in driving up prices. Even higher prices haven’t been enough to stymie demand, leaving contractors scrambling to find what they need.
What Is Lacking?
The Q3 2020 Remodeling Market Index asked its members to report any material shortages they had experienced during the previous six months. Framing lumber was the most commonly reported, with 52% reporting some deficiency and 25% reporting a serious lack. This shortage may have been the most severe, but it isn’t the only construction material in short supply.
Upwards of 65% of remodelers reported some sort of shortage of windows and doors, with 63% reporting a lack of plywood and 61% reporting a lack of orientated strand board (OSB). Other materials lacking included everything from HVAC equipment and roofing materials to steel, concrete bricks and plumbing fixtures.
Some of these shortages have started to resolve themselves. For example, the lumber bubble has burst and prices are beginning to fall, but other items are still more difficult to come by.
Looking Forward With Solutions
While things are starting to get back to normal, home renovation and remodeling projects face significant challenges and delays. Homeowners are beginning to get frustrated as the days tick by and they’re still no closer to their deadlines, and solutions are few and far between. Patience is the best tool to hone right now because when it comes down to brass tacks, there isn’t much to do but wait for supply lines to start flowing at their previous rate.
Frustrated homeowners might take to the suggestion of a different renovation project, such as something they’ve been putting off while they waited to finish other things. The second half of 2021 will be the perfect time to repair or replace gutters, with industry experts projecting an aluminum shortage to rear its head by the end of the year.
There aren’t many solutions to be had right now, but as things slowly start getting back to normal, these supply chain issues and material shortages will become just another bad memory from 2020.
The Industry is Bouncing Back — Slowly
Most of 2020 and the beginning of 2021 have been a rough period for many industries, and construction is no exception. Things are starting to return to normal, but it’s a slow process and one that will take some time to navigate. Be patient but vigilant. Change is happening, but it could easily pass a company by if it’s not ready to take advantage of opportunities as they arise.
Emily Newton is the Editor-in-Chief of Revolutionized. She has over four years experience covering the industrial sector.