The last few years have been challenging for many reasons, but lately, it looks like things are slowly returning to normal. Unfortunately, one issue that is still affecting industries across the country is supply chain disruption. Siding products have fallen victim to these disruptions, slowing both renovations and home building projects.
Most of these hiccups have been the result of the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic. As for so many of us, these past years have been rife with challenges and setbacks that are disrupting the flow of goods and our ability to do work. Here are a few reasons why this crisis is still affecting our processes, despite hope on the horizon.
Unexpected transportation delays
Even before the pandemic began, the transportation industry had been struggling as a result of new labor laws. Employees were forced to pay for their own gas and trucks without having any benefits, and companies struggled – and still struggle – with the funding to rectify this. As a result, many drivers had to take fewer hours or quit altogether in the hopes of finding a better-paying job. This created an immediate supply shortage, which only got worse after the country went into lockdown, and people could no longer leave for long periods of time. Factor in the Suez Canal obstruction and cargo ship delays, and you have a ton of reasons why products can’t get to us fast enough.
Any necessary building supplies that would’ve otherwise been transported got stuck at harbors or in warehouses, with nobody available or willing to unload and ship the materials elsewhere. Meanwhile, the rise of online shopping meant that even before the pandemic, more and more materials and services were being purchased than could be delivered on time, only increasing the demand that people were struggling to fill, including within the building and roofing industries, as more and more people turned to DIY projects at home and required the materials to make those projects possible.
A lack of raw materials
Of course, having people transport materials only works out if there are materials to transport in the first place. Even now, getting the necessary materials can be a challenge all on its own. While the prices continue to rise to 24.4% higher than in 2021 as of April and lumber prices reach heights not seen since World War II, the rate of material production dropped. This has been especially impactful for roof shingles, which are in high demand but have been suffering production shortfalls regardless.
Once again, the COVID-19 pandemic can be blamed here, as well as extreme weather patterns, including a record-breaking storm season. As for the weather problems, that can be seen by looking at the chemical-developing Gulf of Mexico, which suffered under ice storms and Hurricane Ida, disrupting any attempts at production there might have been. The combination of labor shortages, natural disasters, and a lack of funding simply means that raw materials are harder to produce and distribute. Any materials that make it to the market are priced higher and sell out faster, thus continuing the cycle. Even without a global crisis, these materials can get bottlenecked in the delivery stage.
As mentioned previously, the demand for these services and materials has only increased over the past few years, despite the hardships. The pandemic led to more and more people wanting to renovate their homes or build things by hand. These projects require lumber at the bare minimum, which is one of the more expensive and hard-to-get materials in recent years. Bad weather can damage homes and commercial buildings, requiring extra demand for repair services and the materials to make said repairs. Additionally, a lot of in-demand materials are also needed by other industries. For example, the thermoplastic polymer, polypropylene, is used by the roofing, automobile, and packaging industries and thus is in even higher demand than other building materials.
Fewer people involved in production
Another troubling side-effect of the pandemic lockdown is the overall lack of manpower most companies have. From isolation to helping other family members who might be sick, human capital is in high demand. Despite the fact that the demand for services is always increasing, people are not as able to work these jobs, which of course means there are fewer services available and longer wait times for them. From factories with nobody to work the assembly lines to transportation companies with no drivers and contractor companies with shrinking teams, we are facing unprecedented issues. Finding people to hire has been getting more difficult for everyone involved in the supply chain, roofing companies included.
What does this mean for you?
No matter how you slice it, the roofing industry has been impacted a lot by recent events, and that impacts customers as well. Whether you need your roof patched, have an entirely new house to build, or just want to help your kids build a treehouse, you too will be affected by these supply problems in a few ways. Knowing some of the problems you may face can help you be better prepared for what lies ahead.
Know in advance that your remodeling project is likely to be delayed — and sometimes more than once. Whether it is due to a lack of materials, high service demand, or even just a lack of manpower, expect that you may not get your project done when you want to. You may need to compromise to get faster service by changing the delivery time, requested materials, or even accepting a higher price for the service. Try to set the project completion time in advance of when you’d want it completed by — just to be sure. It can take up to eight weeks or more in some cases, so ask your company about shortages and scheduling to better plan.
Your color options have also become more limited, thanks to manufacturers prioritizing the more commonly demanded color choices, such as black. This may not seem like a big deal in comparison to the other problems, but you may find that your preferred color palette is unavailable. If you want your project to be completed, you’ll likely need to settle for some colors that may not be your first or second choice. Brand options are also becoming limited, even more so than color options, so you may be in luck if you’re more concerned with palette than branding, especially if certain brands are limiting themselves to certain colors.
If you’re looking to do a DIY home improvement project, you may be struggling to find all the supplies you need. Like with any other big project, you’ll be better off planning ahead and ordering materials in advance. Luckily, once you have the supplies, you’ll be able to do the work yourself and not need to wait for a service provider to come and assist you. Just don’t assume you’ll be able to start working soon after placing the order. Instead, schedule your project around the possibility of facing a delivery delay.
The costs will also likely continue to grow, so don’t wait too long, hoping to see them drop again. Order as soon as you can because the price you pay before the delivery is the price you pay when you receive the material or service, even if it takes a while to receive it. Prepare early if you have a project you’re hoping to complete, even if it seems expensive now because it will likely grow more expensive if you decide to wait.
Is it getting better?
The short answer is yes, but it might not seem that way immediately. Like many disruptions, it tends to take the same amount of time to rectify as it does to return to normal. These issues are getting better, but it is a slow process. Building and roofing industries may seem like they are in a volatile place right now, and many projects are taking longer to complete as a result. It’s only natural to be concerned when you see the news about the climbing lumber prices and the shortage of workers. We all depend on certain industries, and if one industry takes a hit, others are likely to suffer as well, especially for companies that depend on the timely delivery of raw materials and supplies.
However, roofing companies, such as Mr. Roof, are continuing to work and find solutions to these problems. Companies are learning to navigate these difficulties in order to provide quality and speedy services to people who need them, whether it’s experimenting with different roofing materials, finding new transport companies to work with, or even just limiting the options to the ones most-requested and most-trusted. The problems are being addressed and solved as people continue to demand services.
Contact Mr. Roof
Mr. Roof is committed to offering excellent building and repair services, regardless of supply chain concerns. We love to give back to our communities and help during these trying times, so whether it is repairing homes damaged by a natural disaster or acting as an essential business during the COVID-19 pandemic, we are here to be of service to you, no matter what. Contact us today and see how we can help. Our professionals are standing by to get products and services to our customers as quickly as possible.