Home renovations, especially kitchen remodels, are at an all-time high. Early in the pandemic, consumers were more easily able to flex their design skills and improve the functionality of their homes. According to Sean Scully, director - Showroom/Builder, Southern California District “Unfortunately, that is not the case now. For many months and for the foreseeable future, consumers must navigate a slightly different path to renew and improve their spaces.”
Regardless of where you live in the US, homeowners must be prepared for the longer wait times, increased prices and above all else, remain flexible because nearly every single phase of the supply chain has been impacted somewhere along the way by COVID-19.
While vaccines are up and COVID cases are down, widespread labor shortages, as well as resources such as plastics, foam, chips, raw materials, and other supplies used to manufacture appliances remain. Logistical challenges are compounded by general backup at ports, lack of container availability and weather events such as the Texas freeze and Hurricane Ida. Manufacturers of both domestic- and foreign-produced appliances suffer from pandemic-induced supply chain conditions. Unfortunately, one missing part or any unavailable material can prevent bringing an appliance to market.
“It may seem difficult to undergo a home project today, but it doesn’t have to be if you approach it with the right mindset and the right partners,” says Mary Cifuentes, director - Showroom/Builder, Northeast District. “There are several options available in the market for home products, but you may just need to keep an open mind and be a bit flexible. Know that you are not alone in this and that there are professionals that can help if you have questions or concerns.”
Consulting with a Trusted Partner is the Secret Ingredient to Navigating the Supply Chain
First, ditch the DIY mindset. In today’s evolving supply chain, there is no quick and easy solution, and it is difficult to go it alone. For the novice, even the worst DIY nightmare on television pales in comparison to some of today’s stories. From shipping delays, lost products, to raw material shortages, the most experienced homeowners dive into their renovation projects thinking the same rules apply. Scully says, “Even if you’ve renovated in the past, the post-COVID supply chain disruptions require navigating a new set of challenges with new partners.”
Second, consult with experts. Before starting any remodeling project, assemble your team of trusted experts and partners.
- Interview multiple contractors and designers. Beyond specific suggestions, they can help determine how to successfully implement your ideas. Additionally, a trusted contractor and designer may even discover ways to bring your vision to reality while improving on them given the current environment, while saving money.
- Visit a designer showroom with your contractor or designer to start the home renovation journey. It is important to note, designer showrooms do not carry inventory. This is how they differ from typical retailers, where products can be purchased by anyone in-person or online. Some showrooms, like Ferguson Bath, Kitchen and Lighting Gallery, suggest making an appointment for the best experience.
- Another great option to start the product selection process, and to get an idea of current inventory, is visiting an online site like Build.com/Ferguson. Many sites let you search for in-stock items. You can get an idea of the current inventory for a wide range of products, including lighting, appliances, and kitchen and bath fixtures.
Third, adopt a do-it-for-me attitude. Renovating or building a home is a complex process with both moments of excitement and stress. Cifuentes says, “A great contractor and designer can take the hassle (and headache) out of process and bring you in for the fun decisions. They maximize your design, as well as your time and budget.”
Fourth, determine the scope of your project. If you’ve ever worked on a project that seemed to grow as it went, then it’s easy to recognize the need to understand the scope of a renovation project from the start. This allows the homeowner to set a budget and timeline. Cifuentes says, “Your project timeline changes everything. A narrow timeline requires far more flexibility. Depending on the renovation’s complexity or highly specialized design, then they may be looking at project timeline of 8-10 months to account for the supply chain complexities.”
Finally, be flexible. When it is time to finalize your product selections, Scully says, “Bring your patience, along with your flexibility. Showroom teams are well-versed in the current state of the industry and understand the difficulties consumers are having right now securing certain items. Because of their deep expertise in the products they carry, showroom teams know what’s available and what alternatives may need to be considered, making them an ideal partner to lean on, in addition to your contractor and designer.”
Cifuentes says, “There are many options available across the product categories we offer, but certain specialty products may require longer lead times, which could result in delayed projects.” For those products, our Showroom Experts can guide customers to a similar product that is available to fit within their timeframe and/or budget. Questions to ponder include:
- Am I open to considering different manufacturers, different colors, different sizes, different finishes?
- Are there any specific features that I need versus want?
- Is my project timeline flexible? How flexible?
- If my heart is set on a specific product that won’t be available for months, can I keep my existing item longer and wait for the perfect product to become more readily available?
These are the types of questions a Showroom Expert will ask to narrow down options and present the customer with what makes sense for their project.
Lastly, both Scully and Cifuentes remind homeowners to remember that this too shall pass. There may be low inventory today, but that won’t be the case forever.