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  • Writer's pictureDon Magruder

The Top 5 Items Creating Construction Delays

If you are planning on constructing a new home or starting a remodeling project, there is no doubt you will experience delays. If you lack patience or are dealing with a time crunch for completion, my best advice is to buy, not build, because it will probably be incredibly frustrating.

Here are the top 5 items I see that are creating delays in residential construction projects:

First is labor. The construction industry has gotten old, real old. The lack of vocational education in schools for the last two decades coupled with the 2008 housing collapse has left the construction industry woefully short in skilled craftspeople who can do the job and train the next generation. It is hard to convince those in the younger generation to work construction with its weather issues and hard work, even with substantially higher wages. Plus, a lack of an immigration policy that would allow workers in construction on work visas is creating an untenable situation. In short, getting a contractor to quote your job will probably be a chore as many are booked out for months or more.

Roof and floor trusses are a real problem with most plants out in production 8 to 12 months. Metal truss plates are on allocation, skilled truss designers are in short supply, but even worse, there is a lack of capacity being created. For decades the truss industry relied on manual saws and tables with archaic methods in manufacturing. After the housing collapse and the closing of many truss plants, the technology changed, and the old equipment of the past was no longer supported with parts or software. The truss industry must re-tool and getting new equipment is now into year lead times. The is an alternative, however, you could hand frame roofs on houses, but unfortunately, the lack of skilled tradespeople in the industry is stymieing that solution. Additionally, demand is growing which suggests this problem will persist for several years.

Windows in Florida is another huge supply issue. Overwhelming, increased, worldwide demand for metal and glass, along with labor shortages at manufacturing plants, has made a mess of the window industry. Lead times on windows are stretching from 12 to 40 weeks, and the large number of mistakes being made are creating additional delays. The solution is stocking window programs and having builders and architects use base window sizes. Even with these changes, supply will remain tight for most of 2022.

Concrete blocks are an issue due to limited capacity and overwhelming demand. For decades, builders could get block deliveries the next day, and currently, many are waiting weeks, and sometimes smaller builders are not getting any. The problem with obtaining blocks and concrete in the near future will be the American infrastructure bill. No one disagrees that America needs to repair and rebuild the crumbling infrastructure, but it will put undo demand on concrete and steel probably starting this summer. Concrete blocks could have worse supply issues later as no company will be able to outbid the United States government.

Finally, any building supply items made with steel will also see delay issues. Just like concrete, the American infrastructure bill will put undo pressure on the steel markets which have already been suffering for over 3 years from tariffs and growing world demands. Items from pocket door hardware to steel studs will become higher priced with spot shortages. For example, foundation wire mesh has more than tripled in price over the last couple of years, and currently there is virtually no availability in the open market. Lead times and prices are surging, and steel which is used to start many projects could become even more scarce as the year proceeds.

Most of these issues will not resolve in 2022 and could even continue in 2023 as housing backlog and demand increases. The number of available houses on the market are at historic lows, but the demand is the highest in decades. If you are building, be prepared to wait and get frustrated.

Don Magruder is the CEO of Ro-Mac Lumber & Supply, Inc., and he is also the host of the “Around the House” Show which can be seen at AroundtheHouse.TV.

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