One-two punch for TN builders, supply and labor shortages

Special Reports

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Being on budget and on time are two goals hard to come by in an industry plagued by the pandemic.

The National Association of Home Builders is now calling on Congress and the Biden Administration to help ease building material supply chain bottlenecks that are harming housing affordability.

Until then, the construction woes continue.

“I trace it back to the beginning of the pandemic and suppliers not knowing what was to come,” Jeff Checko said, a Relocation Director. “The expectation was widely things are going to stop and production, in turn, stopped.”

As we see now, that expectation was wrong. Instead, quite the opposite. The construction industry ended up experiencing extreme demand.

“I liken it to when you throw a rock into a pond you get little ripples. Someone threw a big rock – it was a boulder- and you didn’t get a ripple. You got a title wave,” said Bill Thayer, Co-Founder of Fillogic.

Builders and contractors are dealing with a broken supply chain, with many materials sourced from heavily-delayed or now unavailable global manufacturers.

Thayer said everything is backed up, and there’s not enough infrastructure to handle it. Top that with not having enough supply, so prices are rising.

“What happens is that price has to get passed on to the consumer,” Checko said.

Charles Schneider, CEO of the Home Builders Association of Tennessee, said even though there are reports of decreases in specific materials, the price still remains higher than 18 months ago.

“Recently, when the price of one material decreases, the cost of other materials are increasing,” Schneider continued, “Even if the price of a product is stable, the length of time to deliver orders to the job site is much longer than we are used to. This delay also adds cost and impact home prices.”

Checko added he’s seeing delays in things like wire, cabinets, windows, and even paint.

“I was speaking to a painter I worked with for 15 years, I trust immensely, and he’s buying paint from Home Depot,” Checko said. “He’s never done that before. It’s because his usual suppliers are experiencing shortages depending on the type of paint you’re using.”

To make matters even worse, the construction industry is losing jobs.

“Tile suppliers. I was just talking to a tile person for a project, and they used to run four crews and are now down to two. Framing companies that used to run four crews are now down to two,” Checko said.

So, the construction industry is getting creative to keep projects moving, with builders using materials they normally don’t.

“You’re seeing people give way to higher price products because it’s better than waiting two months and carrying the interest related to that,” Checko said.

Even still, you can expect things to take longer, not only once you get someone to a job site, but once they’re there, because they don’t have the manpower they once did.

News 2 continues its in-depth coverage of the stressed supply chain in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Keep up with the latest information as we head into the holiday season with our reports ‘Supply Chain SOS.’

Secretary of Transportation, Pete Buttigieg, said supply chain issues could stretch into 2022, but construction experts admitted the issues surrounding home construction could linger due to labor shortages.

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