Building materials, home furniture hard to find in the New Year


Erin Stetzer had a seemingly impossible job ahead of her: painting the brick exterior of a large house in River Oaks and doing it in two weeks during a pandemic.

Its painters visited Sherwin-Williams paint stores across town, purchasing as much un-tinted paint as each allowed – 135 5-gallon buckets in all – while waiting for the owner to choose a color.

Then they went back to all those stores to tint the paint base the right color. Since the owner had planned a big party, there was no flexibility in the timeframe.

It would be a big job anytime, but when workers have to socially distance themselves and a paint shortage makes it impossible to get a large volume of paint all at once from one store, the task becomes monumental.

“This is where local knowledge across the business base is important,” said Stetzer, who started her career in homebuilding at David Weekley Homes and went on her own at Stetzer Builders in 2003. “Les painters thought it over and went to see every Sherwin- The Williams store they could possibly visit.

If you are building, remodeling, or remodeling a home, you are all too aware of the shortages and delays of almost anything that is needed to complete the job. The worst news is that the problems are expected to continue until the end of 2022.

Everything takes longer to get: Kitchen appliances can take nine months to a year to arrive, and special order furniture can take six months. Lumber price estimates may be valid for five days; windows can take five months to arrive. The tiling is spotty – some brands or styles take a few weeks to get here, while others can take four to six months.

Adding insult to injury, when things finally arrive they could be damaged, broken, or the wrong item.

As the coronavirus pandemic has prompted more people to redecorate, renovate or even build a new home, the pressure on manufacturing and every link in the supply chain has meant that there are few satisfied customers.

For Stetzer, one solution is to go back to the more compact format of his days as a production builder, instead of a longer, more extensive schedule of a custom home builder. This means that when she, her clients and their designer meet early, they make decisions and order everything early on. Then if it takes nine months to get a Wolf range or a SubZero fridge, that’s okay because they have plenty of time.

But the changes are risky, because the wait for the materials has to be started again, which complicates the other phases of construction.

The problem of kitchen appliance delays presents itself differently in a remodel project that should only take a few months. The homeowner should plan a year in advance, then begin construction after the appliances arrive, or proceed on an earlier schedule, using a stove or refrigerator that they know will be temporary until the end of the day. arrival of the one he wants.

There is not one industry more affected than the other. Contractors and designers place orders to set a price and wait, expecting continuous delays and having little to no control over when something happens.

Houston interior designer Lucinda Loya and her purchasing manager, Mary Choe, from Lucinda Loya Interiors said he feels like every time he contacts a client it’s to give them more bad news, with projects taking three to four times as long to complete.

“Two or three years ago, 75% of the time, we could count on delivery times to land on schedule. These days everything is valued and there are no guarantees, ”said Loya.

Conversations with customers aren’t just about furniture choices, but delivery times as well, with weekly order reports, shipping progress reports, and even sharing of tracking numbers when they can. It also means that when some suppliers do a better job of delivering, orders are shifted in their direction.

“We have never experienced problems in all categories like we do today,” said Loya. “From their perspective, clients ask, ‘Do we want to take on this project and spend the money?’ Then the rest goes smoothly, doesn’t it? – except that this is not the case due to logistical problems. The real problem is, it’s everywhere.

If a customer’s first choice takes too long to enter, they may move on to a second choice, but these are often out of stock as well.

“Literally last week we had an item in the wrong size – half the size it was supposed to be. It’s not the customer’s fault, and it’s not our fault, ”said Loya. “It doesn’t matter whose fault is, we have to correct it as quickly as possible. It was the most difficult experience we have ever seen in our career.

The same goes for interior designer Nikole Starr from Nikole Starr Interiors, which sometimes offers furniture “on loan” to customers until their own furniture arrives. Instead of delivering the furniture in one complete installation, she may have to take matters into her own hands in four or five phases.

“Since the winter storm in February, it has been a perfect storm of events. Vietnam has closed its doors for COVID, and that’s where furniture frames are made. Then there is a container shortage and a labor shortage. Anything that can go wrong has gone wrong, ”Starr said.

Furniture showroom owners Connie LeFevre of Design House and Fabric House and Meredith O’Donnell of Meredith O’Donnell Fine Furniture both said wait times for furniture can be long and they will probably continue. They also offered an early warning; furniture prices are expected to rise 10 percent from January.

O’Donnell said his showroom and warehouse were loaded. She’s the primary Hickory Chair dealer in the Houston area, and she’s bought two fall furniture market showrooms – two or three furniture shipping containers – on the fly. These were the new furniture collections presented to designers and shop buyers every year.

For workarounds, O’Donnell said she had to get creative and find trucking lines capable of delivering. And its salespeople also try to be creative.

The Sherrill furniture companies – which include Hickory White, Lillian August and Motioncraft – have grown and plan to open a new production facility by summer 2022. Instead of a six-month deadline, they will be in operation. able to manufacture things within six months. a few weeks.

For all, the past year has been devoted to problem solving: learning about production problems and the peculiarities of foreign maritime transport and domestic land transport.

One of Stetzer’s clients had ordered two chandeliers to put on his kitchen island, but one of them was broken when they arrived after a long wait. They returned to the local lighting showroom to place a new order, but by then that style had been discontinued and they were no longer available.

The owner reacted quickly, pointing to the display sample still hanging from the ceiling: “I’ll take that one.” “

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