Remodeling 101: 7 (Stress-Free) Tips for Renovating in the Time of Supply Chain Issues

2. Create a realistic budget.

With a skyrocketing demand for labor and low supply, companies are shelling out higher wages to retain talent…resulting in increased labor prices for consumers. Combine that with inflation, higher material prices, and backordered products and the cost of a renovation can be significantly higher than you anticipate. Allow extra room in your budget for re-selections, price hikes, and unexpected costs, too.

be mindful of appliance delivery delays. styling by hilary robertson and p 11
Above: Be mindful of appliance delivery delays. Styling by Hilary Robertson and photograph by Dana Gallagher from Farmhouse Refresh: An Antiques Dealer’s Clean and Simple Family Retreat on Shelter Island.

3. Anticipate some additional service charges.

Long lead times and delays for products may mean that certain items will arrive on site much later than expected—and after a contractor’s crew has left the job. For example, if a refrigerator or dishwasher is delivered months after the plumber and electrician have finished all of the other scheduled work, those trades may charge a service fee to return to complete the plumbing and electrical connections for this one item. (Additionally, if these items have integrated panels, the cabinet maker will also have to return for the installation). Being mindful of the delays will help ensure that these potential costs are factored into the project budget.

4. And be mindful of the ongoing skilled labor shortage.

Finding great contractors has become increasingly difficult in recent years due to a shortage of skilled labor that existed even before the pandemic. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of construction laborers, carpenters, drywall and ceiling installers, plumbers, and painters has steadily decreased since 2018. The decline is due to a combination of an aging workforce of tradespeople and an insufficient number of newcomers—and the result is longer wait times for renovation projects and schedule delays. If you’re not already working with an interior designer or architect who can recommend trades, ask your friends and family who they’ve worked with—or pop into your local showrooms to ask for recommendations.

a remodel that made use of existing materials where possible: kitchen of the we 12
Above: A remodel that made use of existing materials where possible: Kitchen of the Week: A Waste-Conscious Remodel for a Ceramic Tile Designer. Photograph by Agnese Sanvito, courtesy of Brisco Loran.

5. Shop local and secondhand. 

Are there any materials or products that can be sourced in your area? Sourcing items nearby is a great way to eliminate the headaches that come with ordering products fabricated overseas (and it’s more eco-minded, too). Buying vintage or rehabbed items, like antique doors, is an environmentally friendly way to add character to your home. Get creative and explore alternative options that have a smaller carbon footprint and no (or short) lead times to boot!

6. Hire a great design team.

There are myriad benefits to working with an interior designer and/or an architect—like creating a cohesive design vision and ensuring the renovation project runs smoothly, just to name two. Most have their go-to teams of contractors and preferred vendors, and one of the biggest perks is having access to this extensive network of trusted tradespeople. And costly mistakes can be avoided by working with professionals who understand the current design and construction landscape.

flexibility is key. photograph by lorenzo zandri from the low energy house 13
Above: Flexibility is key. Photograph by Lorenzo Zandri from The Low Energy House: 10 Ideas to Steal from an Eco-Conscious Retrofit of a 1907 Townhouse.

7. Stay flexible and patient.

When your first choice material or fixture isn’t available, staying open to options that are in stock or have shorter lead times can help keep your timeline on track. While planning ahead is essential, being flexible can help you meet crucial deadlines and stay on budget. And when those inevitable delays occur, stay calm, make the appropriate plans or revisions, and remember it’s all part of the process. It will be worth it when everything comes together.

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