If you haven’t noticed, there’s been a hot topic in the news that began earlier in 2020 and has continued for much of the year. No, not the election or COVID-19. Rather, Liverpool’s dominance over the Premier League in the 19/20 season and whether they’ll repeat in the current season.
Ok, it’s COVID-19. We’re all tired of hearing about it, so we won’t discuss any of the numbers, prevention measures, politics, or the like. Instead, what is it like to build during a pandemic? Better yet, what is it like to schedule a construction project during a pandemic.
Remember when toilet paper was (for reasons largely unknown) scarce and in panic-inducing quantities? The thought of what you would use if… you know… would bring even the toughest person to their knees. Well, maybe. That’s how we in the construction industry have felt at times this year with building materials. Has your builder (if you’ve hired one this year) mentioned the supply chain issues related to windows, cabinets, lumber, doors, siding, circuit breakers, or appliances? It’s been rather difficult to navigate the web of delays – especially when they’re changing constantly and every time you look up, it’s a new product or material that is affected.
So how has it gone for us here at JT Custom Builders?
At times, candidly, we have not been able to completely avoid delays. It’s something that we’ve worked to prevent at all costs. Construction is an imperfect industry. During the course of a Remodel or a New Home build, we are combining hundreds or thousands of materials into one finished product. These materials are supplied by our Trade Partners, Suppliers, or us. Most materials must be installed in a particular order (cabinets before countertops, framed walls before windows, etc.), so if an item is unavailable or delayed, it could throw off the entire project. We have, unfortunately, had projects delayed due to material availability issues.
Some projects have been completely unaffected by delays and some projects weren’t affected until a material arrived damaged or incorrect. Picture this hypothetical example: we are trying to stay on top of our material ordering based on current lead times provided to us by our Suppliers. We are embarking on a new Kitchen Remodel and we know that cabinets are currently arriving in 4-5 weeks, so we order at an appropriate time where they arrive early enough that we can continue through our project unhindered but not too early so as to get in the way. All is moving along swimmingly until we receive our cabinet delivery 3 days prior to installing and we notice that the wall cabinets delivered are all the wrong height. In a more normal time, we may be able to get replacements delivered within a week or so, pushing the project completion date by only 3-4 days. During this pandemic, we are likely looking at another 3 weeks. Over the course of a 4, 5 or 6 week project, 3 weeks of delay is very problematic.
Continuing with the hypothetical example above, as a small business (or with most businesses), there’s almost no way to put a project on hold for 3 weeks, and keep employees paid without having to weave in another project in the downtime. So what does this do? It creates additional scheduling hurdles, dividing of staff and resources, and potentially longer duration projects than normal.
What has JT Custom Builders done to avoid delays?
We have stayed in constant communication with our Suppliers and Trade Partners during the planning and execution stages of our projects to ensure that material items we know have been delayed are being ordered on time. In addition, we’re asking about any disruptions in the supply chain that they are starting to see that may affect a current or a future project. Finally, we’re being as open and communicative with our customers as possible – letting them know that the potential does exist for material delays due to everything mentioned here already.
Here’s a success story: during the Summer, windows were taking anywhere from 6-12 weeks to arrive depending on the manufacturer. We projected a window installation date at our current Custom Home project in Parkton approximately 8 weeks in advance and ordered the windows. Fast forward and the windows were available 3 days prior to when we needed to install them. This is one of many examples of successes that we’ve experienced this year by working diligently to stay on top of all aspects of our projects.
We are by no means perfect and we’ll never claim to be, but we are committed to providing a high quality, communicative, timely, and stress-free experience for all of our customers – during a pandemic or not.
If you’re considering a Remodeling or New Custom Home project, don’t hesitate to contact JT Custom Builders today.