On a Friday morning a month ago I received a phone call from one of our designers who happened to answer the phone at the studio early that morning. The angry woman on the other end of the line berated her with some choice words for the horrible radio ad we had running. Confused I re-checked the text in our ad to find out she was apparently offended that we said something like, “Things don’t seem like they’re going back to the way they were”. Apparently I had hit a hot button. Yikes.
As we head into the fall season, remodeling continues like a freight train going full speed ahead. There’s a light at the end of the tunnel, and it appears to be more wide-open spaces with no end in sight. As we all settle into the idea that things don’t seem like they are ever going to “go back to the way they used to be” (right?) it is becoming clear that focusing on the home is not just a short-term trend, but rather a new way of living for many Americans.
There’s no doubt there are some crazy things going on out there as I pen this letter. Between the moving-target Covid mandates to the ongoing turmoil around the world and in our own country – in our small corner of the world we are finding that homeowners are very much turning their sights inward to focus on making their home a refuge from all the chaos that seems to continue to swirl around us. How we work, go to school, entertain, and live and function as families has been changing. No matter how we may feel about it, we all have to come to terms with how everything is not going to go back to how it was before.
One Thing That Hasn’t Changed
One thing that hasn’t changed is the upfront work our design teams put into putting projects together. Despite the high demand, our team of designers continue to work through project design, budgeting, product selection and project planning most diligently with everyone who comes to us.
If one thing is more important than ever, it’s the need to have meticulous upfront processes that will ensure the best possible project once it goes to the field. With the current challenges we face involving product supply and scheduling difficulties, there is no doubt it is critical to have a carefully prepared project happening up front.
Material Scheduling Continues to be Challenging
Acquiring renovation materials from rough construction lumber and rough-in to finish product such as fixtures and tile in a timely manner continues to make scheduling a challenge. We do have access to everything we need as I mentioned in the last letter. I never thought we wouldn’t be able to get product, what has been challenging is the timeframe in which we get it is often unpredictable.
Some product lead times are long, and a day doesn’t go by that something that was supposed to arrive simply doesn’t show up as planned. In the past now year and a half, we have become rather accustomed to working this way. We have learned that the best way to overcome the uncertainty is to plan for it early and to have a contingency plan. When everything is prepared and ordered far before we need it, we will have the best chance to have it when it is ready to be installed.
This translates to a longer lead up time from the point where design is completed and projects begin in the field. Be prepared for a little bit of a wait time in between. Because projects are shifting around to accommodate product receipt on both your project and on others already in progress, you may be given an approximate date that then still may have to be moved as it approaches.
These industry challenges have made an already complex job a bit harder. We again ask our clients for their patience, as our team navigates these more difficult obstacles behind the scenes as part of their everyday practice.
But We Have a Secret Weapon!
Now’s as good a time as any to introduce to you our own cabinetry line. We’ve actually been building custom cabinetry in our own workshop to accommodate unique projects for a number of years. We have this year however bumped up our capacity to build full kitchens (and anything else cabinetry-related for that matter) and have put quite a few into production this year.
The biggest advantage is it has allowed us to turn out cabinetry projects much faster than the industry lead times on our regular cabinetry lines. Right now our custom cabinet production is between 9-12 weeks from order, whereas our counterparts are currently tracking lead times of 18-22 weeks for semi-custom cabinetry.
If you are interested in beautifully made, local artisan produced cabinetry unlike anything else we have to offer, check out our recently launched Artisan-Made Cabinetry website and be sure to request it from your designer.
Right NOW is a Great Time to Renovate
According to MortgageRates.com, “Fannie Mae and the National Association of Home Builders see average 30-year rates staying below 3% through Q4 2021, while agencies like Freddie Mac and the Mortgage Bankers Association predict 30-year rates as high as 3.3 to 3.4% by the end of the year.”
I know I’ve said this before, but money savvy homeowners are taking the trade-off of a few hiccups on project timelines in exchange for the amazing low mortgage interest rates on refinances and home equity loans for renovations.
And if you’re still waiting for remodeling costs to go down I have said this many times, “The least expensive time to remodel is right now.” For as long as we have been in this industry we have found that the cost to renovate tends to rise every year along with inflation.
And posted just this week, the National Association of Homebuilders has said, “The seasonally adjusted PPI for softwood lumber declined 29.0 percent in July, the largest monthly decline since tracking of the series began in 1947,” the NAHB said. That’s some of the best news we’ve heard all year. As of late August, we are currently tracking local lumber prices now that have dipped below where they were last year at this time.
Truth be told, all renovation products continue to rise while the costs to produce them – raw materials like wood and metals, shipping and fuel prices, and human labor – have all risen. Let’s put it this way; we don’t usually expect overall renovation costs to go down. I’m sorry to say it doesn’t usually work that way. So like I said earlier, the best time to renovate is NOW. It’s highly likely that ANY time in the future due to normal inflation each year, it will simply cost more than it does now.
Our Team is Really Killin’ It
I must take this opportunity to tell you how amazing our ADS team really is. I know that you probably think I am biased, but what I know that you may not always see is how much they care. Due to shortages in labor, our team leaders and all of our staff are working more hours than they have ever worked. Project logistics due to current circumstances are making projects more complicated to produce, which is in turn costing us more man hours to coordinate.
Your kindness will go a long way towards helping them feel appreciated. Overlooking delays and waiting on details will be of great help as you partner with our team to get your project completed in the shortest amount of time humanly possible. Trust me when I say no-one wants to complete your project faster than our project manager on your project!
The best advice I can give homeowners thinking about starting a project? Start now if you want to get that project begun shortly after the new year, because you can rest assured the fall rush will most likely be even greater than the early part of 2021!
And the best reason to renovate now besides all the personal benefits to you and your family is that your renovation builds back into our local economy by supporting small businesses. Please consider carefully the impact you can have by hiring local designers and contractors to renovate your home. We build cabinetry right here! We purchase product from local suppliers who support real people like you and me (not big box corporations like Home Depot and Lowe’s, trust me they’re going to be just fine!).
We continue to be grateful for the opportunities we have to follow our calling and impact you, your home, and the way you want to live. We believe that the partnership you choose for your renovation is the most important remodeling decision you can make.
Thank you for all of you who have supported ADS and thank you for referring your family and friends! Our promise to you will always be well-done renovation projects, and a great remodeling experience to go with it!
Get your next remodeling project going now! It’s going to be fun.
Christine & Todd Jurs
Founders | Advance Design Studio, Ltd.