You’ve seen the articles, the home and building industry is booming, but suppliers are struggling to keep up. The lumber prices have skyrocketed in recent months, and there are significant delays on any special-order items. This news would make anyone second-guess if now was the right time to tackle a home renovation or build a new home. Stop that second-guessing. Now is as good a time as any to renovate or build; just know what to expect.

A builder’s best advice to a homeowner thinking about starting a renovation or a new build right now is to buy your materials early. This way the lead time is not an issue. Most suppliers and vendors order non-stocking items as needed, which is a great way to keep overhead down. Still, because of COVID, the “just-in-time” materials that previously took a week or so are now experiencing massive delays taking as long as 12-20 weeks. Ordering your materials early takes the pressure off the endless waiting for the materials needed to do a job.

With the prices of lumber and materials vastly fluctuating, buying ahead and all at once also allows you to properly budget. In the past, builders have been able to give a pretty accurate estimate for materials. Now, with prices changing weekly, these line items have become an “allowance” in the budget and reconciled as things are purchased.

There are also creative ways to build using less material. Framing is traditionally done on 16″ on center increments using 2×4 studs in walls. A creative way to use less lumber is to build the same wall by using 2×6 studs, increasing the distance to 19.2″ and sometimes 24″ on center. There are also other materials like the use of steel studs in some non-load-bearing partition walls.

Construction delays are common, both before and after COVID, and usually out of the builder’s hands. But, a good builder will work with their client to make sure the process is as seamless as possible, sticking to the budget as closely as possible. So, if you’re thinking about building or renovating in 2021 – be prepared for potential project delays, plan and order early, and budget accordingly, but most importantly, have a good builder!