Renovation Industry Woes | 3 areas causing us a pain in the a$$
July 9, 2021
Since Covid arrived into all of our lives, it seems that many things have turned upside down. From everyone working from home and needing new home office space(s), to people spending more time in their homes and realizing it needs a facelift, our renovation industry is simply mad. We are facing so many renovation industry woes that I’m starting to feel mad.
Renovation Industry Woes
For our company, there continues to be a daily grind of:
Daily checking on orders to ensure there are no delays
Pricing checking to ensure there are no price increases
Double checking our construction timelines (who is absent from the job site, who has not shown up, who is on holidays, etc.)
Let’s take a peek at each one, more in depth so you can get a full understanding of what we are dealing with.
When I procure items for our projects, I look after all of the ‘pretty’ (flooring, tile, faucets, etc). Sherman Quinlan, our Site Supervisor, looks after procurement for all of the ‘ugly’ (lumber, drywall, etc.). Yes – it’s kind of like a beauty and the beast scenario.
From our suppliers we get our pricing and then the expected time of arrival for supplies. I can’t really remember a time in the last year that we have had something arrive on time. What exactly is causing these woes?
Availability of shipping containers. Anything coming across the water to North America is facing delays. Just yesterday I received an email stating, “Dealing with COVID regulations, port strikes or closures, and that guy who got stuck in the Suez Canal, has all resulted in a worldwide container shortage and highest ever importing costs.”
More renovation industry woes are due to many factories shut down at some point during Covid. When the factories finally got back up and running, some had a skeletal staff. This has put everything behind with really long lead-times.
Availability of material is also a pain in the you-know-what. We’ve all probably heard of a lumber shortage, due to supply and demand. We’ve also experienced shortages in mdf material (baseboards and casings) as well as drywall. In a recent basement development, our drywall was 4 days old where we typically get drywall that is at least 4 months old (drywall is stamped with a date that it was made). And while pricing is reported as finally coming down in price, we have yet to see that here.
We also found out that we are experiencing an aluminum shortage. This effects us with our exterior door orders that we have. What was once a 8 week timeframe is now a 16+ week timeframe. I have personally ordered a new front door for our home. I ordered it on March 10th and will not expect it until August (and that is crossing my fingers it comes then).
Adding to the supply chain issues, we are dealing with price increases – everywhere!
Some of our tile is seeing increases of $0.50 – $1/sq ft.
Tin has seen an overall increase of 67% since the start of Covid.
Lumber has seen increases of 50%+.
Interior Doors and millwork (baseboard and casings) has seen price increase of 40%+.
Seen enough because I sure have! When we go to our suppliers to get pricing for a project, we are met with delays in getting pricing. Why? If the suppliers don’t have pricing from their suppliers, they can’t give us a quote. It’s this back-and-forth game of waiting for pricing, getting pricing, and hopefully it stays and does not increase. We used to provide our quoting for 30 days and now we have to say that our pricing is good for 15 days. I also used to get our quotes in within the week of our trade days and now we are experiencing at least 2 weeks to get the quotes in.
Timelines | Staff
This by far, has been one of our biggest challenges and is the largest renovation industry woe for us. You know when times are good when good work is so hard to come by. I do our best to give our trade partners enough advanced notice so that they are booked well in advance. We know the great trades are booked well into the future and we do our best to secure our trade partners by doing just this. It is not often we don’t have our trade partners booked with a minimum of two to three weeks notice.
One thing we have prided ourselves on is vetting our trade partners. While we take time to interview, ask for referrals, etc. staffing has been an issue for many of our trade partners. While I do not wish to get into politics here, it is extremely difficult to compete with government free money (and we all know nothing is free). Why would one work when you can collect a pay check from the government? Another issue is workers not showing up due to illness. We are extremely fortunate that we have not had a single incident of Covid with our trade partners – but we have had workers call in sick. When they call in sick, there is no replacement as everyone else is scheduled elsewhere on other projects.
We are very lucky that the majority of our trade partners are well established and have a great rapport with their staff, but we have faced this and it is such a crappy feeling. To let a client know that their work isn’t going to get done in the allotted time is heart breaking for us. We lose sleep. We fuss over when the work will get done – and get done correctly. It’s a huge stress for us, but one that we put on ourselves.
It’s Time for A Break
This year, for the first time, Sherman and I agreed to take our holiday at the same time. We have arranged our projects so that we do not need to be present while we are away (yes – the boring work will be getting done). I can’t tell you, the last week of July can not come soon enough. Not having a winter break to recharge the batteries for two years in a row has been difficult. I know…first real problems not having a winter vacation, but mental health is important – now more than ever. Working seven days a week, weeks upon end, is not a healthy way to live.
So as the last week of July is quickly approaching, and we have many projects that are wrapping up these next two weeks, my hope is that I don’t burst. Burst into tears, burst into an angry fit, burst at the seams…I know all of the product has already arrived and is waiting to be installed these next two weeks. I know that everything always works out, and I know in the end, our clients are really happy.