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Supply Chain Shortages | Ask This Old House

In this video, the entire Ask This Old House team sits down to discuss how supply chain shortages affect their businesses and customers.

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The whole gang meets back at the shop to talk about supply chain issues. Everyone feels the impact, from Jenn Nawada’s pavers, Ross Trethewey’s microchips for smart devices, Mark McCullough’s bluestone, Mauro Henriques’ paint tints, Richard Trethewey’s smaller parts, and heat pumps, to just about everything Tom Silva needs on-site.

How Supply Chain Shortages are Affecting Everyone

For supply chain shortages are causing issues for homeowners and contractors alike. While contractors are busier than ever, they can’t find materials as easily as they used to. Concrete pavers, decking, microchips, certain stones, paint tints, heat pumps, small plumbing parts, lumber, and a myriad of other materials are all in short supply, causing issues for everyone involved in a project.

Long lead times

When contractors can find the materials they’re looking for, their lead times are often still three to six months. These lead times are major deterrents for customers who have already been waiting eight months for a busy contractor to get around to their job.

While materials coming in from overseas are somewhat easier to understand, domestic materials are still hard to get. For instance, bluestone (a material readily available through much of the northeastern US) is hard to get as mining companies don’t have the workforce to pull it from the mountains.

Issues scheduling deliveries

In some cases, there are materials available, but contractors cannot get them to the job site. For instance, concrete is readily available, but suppliers cannot get drivers to deliver it. In cases where materials are right over a state line, contractors are handcuffed by laws and regulations regarding who can move them and bring them into their state.

Customers have more money, but less patience

The pandemic curbed a lot of vacations, allowing many folks to use money reserved for trips on their homes and renovations. This extra cash and feeling of cabin fever aren’t helping the shortage. And, since they’ve been stuck in their homes since the pandemic started, they need a change.

Importance of having a back up plan

Contractors have always told their customers to have a Plan A and a Plan B when it comes to materials. This way, if Plan A should become challenging to get, they’ll always have Plan B to rely on. With today’s supply chain issues, a Plan C is often necessary to fall back on. And, in some cases, Plan C isn’t even a guarantee.

The Labor Shortage is Coming to a Head

There’s been a concern revolving around the younger generation not entering the trades for years, and the shortage finally seems to be coming to a head. Contractors are busier than ever, but they don’t have the labor force to rely on.
Even if the materials were available, contractors worked short-handed before the supply chain issues grew to what they are now. They’re all looking for labor, so younger people considering careers in the trades will have jobs to choose from.

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About Ask This Old House TV:
From the makers of This Old House, America’s first and most trusted home improvement show, Ask This Old House answers the steady stream of home improvement questions asked by viewers across the United States. Covering topics from landscaping to electrical to HVAC and plumbing to painting and more. Ask This Old House features the experts from This Old House, including general contractor Tom Silva, plumbing and heating expert Richard Trethewey, landscape contractor Jenn Nawada, master carpenter Norm Abram, and host Kevin O’Connor. Ask This Old House helps you protect and preserve your greatest investment—your home.

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Supply Chain Shortages | Ask This Old House
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