Material Shortages: the impact on

your home improvement decisions today

EXCLUSIVE FROM: Brian Martin, President,TMC Construction Services, Inc. 

LOVELAND, OH (September 28, 2021) –In May, the National Association of Builders (NAB) surveyed more than 90% of all builders. Eighty-seven percent reported a shortage of windows and doors. More than 50% of builders reported shortages of steel beams, insulation, roofing materials, vinyl siding, copper wiring, and plumbing fixtures, among other materials. The NAB survey also reported industry-wide shortages of appliances.  

Since May 2020, the cost of steel mill products has risen over 75%. That includes a 60% increase in 2021 alone. The cost of prepared asphalt and tar roofing and siding products has risen nearly 15%. 

Thinking about a home improvement? 

So, is this a good time or do you wait?

That depends a lot on your personal situation. If you’re moving soon and looking to sell, weigh the costs of the upgrades to determine if you’ll recoup those investments when you sell. Most investments in upgrades pay for themselves when you sell in five-plus years or more. If you are selling in three months, be careful!

The industry is extremely volatile. That makes this a perfect time to select a contractor and get your project scheduled. Most quality contractors are scheduling months out. In some cases, they’re booking a year or more. 

The Old Days: Contractors have been accustomed to seeing almost everything they need in stock, with special orders only a few weeks out. Today, we’re waiting 16 weeks or more for an exterior door, 12-15 weeks for a cabinet, and many tile options are months out. Some manufacturers can’t even tell us when items will be produced or when they will be shipped.

When you sign up with a contractor to have your project scheduled, you’re miles ahead to select and order all materials right away. Ordering and storing items and materials you like will save you from having to sacrifice what you really love as you’re forced to settle for a second or third choice. 

Meet the murderer:  Like many local restaurants and stores, many employees of building material manufacturers never returned to work after things were temporarily shut down in 2020/2021. When there was even one case of Covid in a factory or warehouse, it could shut down the whole company for many days. To deal with that, some manufacturers are producing only their most popular (what we call “vanilla”) items and postponing the more unique items.  

So, do you wait or sign up now? There’s no crystal ball that can tell us when things will return to pre-pandemic levels. 

A local CPA shared with me that “Given the current administration’s spending and increases in taxes on small business, prices will continue to increase. So, homeowners may actually be beating the price increases by signing up soon.” 

Here’s the sensible action step you’ll want to take: When you find a contractor that you’re comfortable with, ask him to order materials and finish goods RIGHT AWAY. Most quality-minded contractors are at least a few months out. So, ordering now will help to ensure you receive your first-choice items and materials on time.

Also, be kind to your contractor. It’s not the contractor’s fault. They’re working hard and perhaps with less staff. And they’re frantically trying to manage this “new normal.”