Let’s face it: building custom homes in 2021 has presented all building teams, large and small, with unique obstacles. The industry’s supply chain has been congested as a result of this year’s global challenges, and builders everywhere are experiencing building material shortages and backlogs.
Phil Kean Design Group’s own Construction Coordinator, Katie Kovac , recently spoke on behalf of PKDG’s design-build firm with Layne Deakins of ProBuilder Magazine to discuss the impact of the global supply chain crisis on our business in building custom homes.
Katie Kovac, PKDG Construction Coordinator
L: What are some of the biggest challenges your company has faced amid ongoing supply chain disruptions and industry shortages? Have any projects been impacted by these new obstacles?
K: Many of our projects have been impacted by the supply chain disruptions, especially when it comes to lumber, trusses, windows, fixtures, and labor. Items that would normally take 4-6 weeks are now taking 14-16 months, which has had a huge impact on how quickly we can build and complete our homes.
It’s really challenging, especially when it affects almost every item along the way.
However, labor has probably been the largest impact on our projects, which has greatly impacted the completion date for our homes. All trades are so busy that they can only allot so many of their workers to our job sites, instead of an entire crew like they have in the past.
Other challenges that come with these shortages have to do with price increases. Almost every other week something new has a price increase!
While we are finally starting to see lumber come down that is not the case for plumbing fixtures, garage doors, cabinetry, etc. All of these items are continually going up in price that it’s hard to keep up.
L: What do you expect the situation to look like in the months ahead? What advice would you give other builders facing the same challenges?
K: I feel that in the months ahead we’re still going to see a similar situation to what we see now. Every day I find that there is something new that is on backorder or the lead time is being extended. Unfortunately, I don’t foresee it going away anytime soon. I think this is something we are going to be facing well into the first quarter of next year.
The only advice than I can provide to other builders is plan ahead. In construction we’re always planning ahead, but now it’s planning even further ahead. It’s making sure that you study and learn the lead times of every product needed during construction and making a plan to order ahead.
We’ve started ordering things so far ahead and storing them either on-site or at another location to ensure the items needed are on-site when we need them to install in order to not slow a project down.
Another piece of advise would be to change your outlook and stop making excuses. So many people that I have spoken to in the industry look at the negative aspects of the shortages, instead of looking at solutions. So many people in the industry use the pandemic as an excuse to why something is on backorder or why their job is taking so long.
These challenges that we’re currently facing are reasons to make a change and improve the industry or to improve your business.
L: Is there an industry-wide solution to address shortages that might be affecting your business? If not, what smaller steps can be taken to get the building industry back on track?
K: That’s a tricky question. I don’t feel that there is a simple solution.
The construction industry, from my viewpoint, has exponentially grown through this pandemic, which has only added to the shortages.
However, as I said before changing your outlook on construction and what it should be would be the first step to finding the solutions to the shortages.
Taking smaller steps, like planning ahead would be one way to help alleviate the industry shortages. If everyone planned ahead it would help regulate the immediate need and allow the industry some breathing room. The “rush rush” mentality only feeds into the shortages.
L: Had the pandemic never happened, where do you think your company would be today? How would your projects or business model be different?
K: I feel that our company would be in the same place that it is today. In our niche of the construction industry we’re always striving to improve our system and increase our efficiency. That’s what comes with growth.
Our business models constantly evolve from year to year because the industry is ever changing and evolving as well. The only difference might be construction cost for our projects, as it they would most likely not be as high as they currently are due to the pandemic.
Building custom homes is a team-wide effort. The flexibility and dedication shown by our Home Construction team during a difficult home building environment inspires us to deliver everyday. With our exceptional employees and company-wide positive, proactive approach, PKDG looks forward to an incredible 2022!
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