If you’ve talked to a contractor recently, chances are they told you how busy they are.
I recently went on vacation with my family to a secluded lake house without much cell phone service. We take this trip every year, but this year seemed to be extra special. One reason being the need for reconnection and a sense of normalcy compared to summer 2020, and another being how desperately certain family members needed a vacation.
On the first morning, my dad said, “Last night was the first time I made it home from work before 10 p.m. in over a week.” He’s a seasoned HVAC technician, working mostly on small commercial and residential jobs. It’s expected for the HVAC service sector to pick-up as the North Carolina summer heat sets in each year, but as I watched him drive a couple miles up the road in search of cell service to take work calls, I was thinking of how busy the entirety of the service contractor world is right now; no matter if it’s HVAC, plumbing, electrical or others.
According to Modernize, an online tool connecting homeowners with contractors, 41% of homeowners nationwide who had home remodel projects in the works during June are planning more home projects in July.
As lumber prices reach an all-time high, the incentive to stay in your home and remodel (versus entering the wildly frustrating real estate market) continues to climb. Not to mention, the ability for potential homeowners to afford a new-construction home is likely dwindling, causing many to “settle” into a home in which they expect to plan improvement projects.
“Eventually, the market will correct itself, and the timber industry, for example, will bring more sawmills back online, increase supply and lower the costs of those materials, but all these things take time,” says Michael Bourque, CEO of LendingHome. “Rather than looking at the current housing challenges brought on by construction costs, as well as increased demand, there is a huge opportunity this country can capitalize on.”
Bourque adds that nearly two-thirds of the current housing stock is more than 30-years-old, presenting ample opportunity for the construction sector to focus on improving current homes, rather than keep-up with new home demand.
Regardless of the type of job, we have got busy contractors all around us.
After one of my dad’s phone calls he explained that a huge percentage of the problems his guys call him about cannot be solved due to the lack of material and shortage of help — shocking, I know.
What I’ve learned from speaking with distributors, reps, showroom pros and contractors about the market conditions and supply chain disruption the industry is facing is that up-front communication is key. There’s nothing any party involved can do to change the conditions, so you’re forced to adapt and do the best job possible under the circumstances.
Be open and honest with your contractor — and homeowner — customers. Share with them alternative products to the ones that are back-ordered. Don’t set any expectations that you aren’t 100% sure you can meet. Remind them it’s not just our industry that’s facing disruption, and encourage them to plan job timelines according to realistic product lead times.
And, most importantly, thank a busy contractor. Both you and them are doing everything possible to work through these challenges, and together, you can adapt and capitalize on the thriving remodel market.