For the ones that are planning to build a house or do a renovation project and need a lot of construction materials. It looks like the materials shortage is going to continue for a while. Don’t think that your local supplier is expensive or performing a bad service when you look up their prices and delivery schedules. It is a global problem, in raw material prices and availability that are caused due to the oil and chemical industry.
Covid and the war in Ukraine has led to manufacturing shutdowns or slowdowns resulting in plastics, metals, concrete shortage and in transport issues affecting shipping and road freight. For example the roofing industry is suffering with long delays on roof tiles, insulation materials like Rockwool (Dutch: glaswol isolatie), batten and some membranes. Taking this into consideration, we have selected six tips to help beat the materials shortages and accomplish your next house construction project.
Small vs Big
The smaller the contractors are, the more disadvantaged they experience in the materials shortage crisis. This is because they don’t have the same buying power as bigger contractors or they don’t manage to obtain close relationships with merchants and distributors. The smaller companies don’t have a dedicated buyer who can put the time and effort into arranging logistics and deliveries, and they might not have the space to hold stock for when they need it.
1. Contact your Suppliers
In order to plan ahead during such a wild period, communication is key to planning ahead. It’s advisable to get in touch with your merchants well in advance. By performing this action you will help yourself find out what is available and when.
Try to research where in the supply chain the delays are happening. Are the delays caused by the producer (for example, timber mills), at the ports (so more likely to resolve faster), or is it due to a big haulier delay (so likely to resolve in days)? These insights will help gauge whether the availability issues could resolve in the near term or are here to stay for the foreseeable. Don’t forget to ask about if the supplier is implementing allocation policies? Get a copy of it so you know what to expect. Ask about what price increases you should expect in the near term future.
2. Find out about the Lead Times
In order to find out the delivery dates of your needed materials, you should find out the lead times on these specific materials. If you know in advance there will be a 10-week delay on pir insulation materials (Dutch: pir osb plaat) for example, you already know what you can order ahead and avoid delays to your project. These days you can’t leave anything behind to the last minute.
With some materials, such as concrete, on delivery lead times of 20 weeks or more, ordering well in advance is crucial for your project.
3. Find Alternative Suppliers
The supply chain for construction materials is hectic at the moment and will stay like this for a while it seems. It is a good time to shop around and check whether other merchants have the supplies you want in stock or check around for shorter lead times.
4. Consider Alternative Materials
Most contractors or maybe yourself like to work with a brand of roofing covering because they are familiar with how it performs, where to go for take-offs and specifications. But also know where all the manufacturer instructions can be found about how to install it and how to do this.
But as stock gets lower, delivery times longer and prices higher, it might help in obtaining the stocks you need when you need them. Try to consider an alternative material, such as substituting a pir insulation material for a xps insulation material which is easier to get and maybe even cheaper to buy.
Also you can consider reclaimed materials. Some reclamation yards do have good quality second hand materials in stock for you. Check their conditions carefully though but also and be prepared for spending extra time sorting and grading as not all the stock might be usable.
5. Informing and Communication
The news is overwhelming about the materials shortages in the world. If your customers don’t know yet about the situation, be ready with a few news web links you can direct them to. Try to think with your customers by giving your customer a choice of delaying their project or paying more for higher-priced alternative material that is directly or sooner available.