Friends, I can't believe we're already in the last quarter of the year. Last year moved at what felt like a snail's pace, and this year just completely flew by! That all being said, this is your official reminder that if you'd like to start a project in 2022, today is the day to connect and start the process. All signs are pointing to pandemic pandemonium continuing through 2022, so the earlier you secure your team, the better your chances are of enjoying your new space by the holidays of next year!
Extra time has now become a requirement for design projects, and the various components of the supply chain are the biggest factor for these longer lead times. You have probably felt this in other industries, but I always strive to be an transparent as possible here, so I wanted to spell it out for the design industry specifically, and let you know that if a design project is on your radar for next year, do not procrastinate, reach out now and build your team of professionals and get your design plan going.
You're not in the minority if you got the urge to spruce up your home last year! We all were at home for months and months, staring at the walls that surround us and everything we have, or that one room you never actually figured out when you moved in. I know I can't be the only one who felt that way. Once we got our of mandated quarantine, project requests suddenly blew through the roof.
When we couldn't spend money on other discretionary expenses like travel, it became much more feasible to consider working on the house, in small and big ways. Nationwide we've seen a much greater demand for new homes and for those, like us, who love where we live, even we (and by we I mean me, ha) invested in a couple of capital improvements in our home i.e. kitchen and bath renovations. Of course it's not just construction or remodeling that's booming...its everything inside and out....furniture and decor galore, anything and everything that helps us enjoy our homes more now, even with the world open again.
The biggest thing that hurt us this year happened when the foam manufacturing hubs here in Texas were taken offline by Winter Storm Uri or Snovid 2021 as I refer to it...remember that freeze that blew up my own pipes and had us hunkered down in heaps of clothing and blankets amidst no electricity for days followed by flooded homes and businesses. Upholstery foam has a large presence in Texas, so this hit every vendor and designer in the business really hard, not only in the furniture and design business but the automotive industry as well.
Just in the past month, prices have increased 40% again for lumber, which is a key element early in the construction process. That, paired with the increased demand for home remodeling when we were all at home staring at our walls, has created a stock storm of epic proportions. Of course it's not just lumber...you name it and there's most likely a shortage or stock issue - fabric, paint, yarn, metal, shipping containers...the list is long and growing.
The Chinese tariffs that were imposed back in 2019 is also a remnant of pre-pandemic time that affects us now. We still get a lot of material from China, and while these tariffs made it more financially reasonable to find or produce material here in America, the transition of bringing that infrastructure here and deliver quality product (think countertops) has caused additional time that has to be factored into project timelines.
SKILLS + LABOR
Back when companies completely shut down early in 2020, many skilled workers that were focused in furniture craftsmanship and construction were either furloughed or let go. When demand and work ramped up again months later, some of these workers had either already moved on to new jobs while some chose to stay on increased unemployment pay instead. And so once again, increased demand has created much more work for a much smaller workforce, many of whom are new to the industry to replace skilled craftsmen and women.
TRANSPORT BY OCEAN + HIGHWAY
Each company has their own process for transport logistics, so timelines will vary for each and every component of the design, from countertops and tile down to side tables and artwork. What once took maybe 2 to 4 weeks is now taking more like 8-12 weeks, depending on their logistical setup.
Another development to throw a wrench in the transportation system was with container ships. Remember the ship that got stuck in the Suez Canal earlier this year? Sure it was a brilliant idea to increase the size of the cargo ship so that they could carry more product, but it seems like someone missed the mark in letting all the port authorities know of their big plans. The depth of most of the routes have yet to be updated to accommodate the new boats. Think about that...the time and the money needed to update our ports while out there on the water product floats on these boats, unable to dock and actually unload any of their cargo. Brilliant miscommunication right?
One last point...did I mention that the cost for securing a shipping container has gone up 500%? I know, it's all too much- all of these things point to a long, long journey to normalizing these lead times and prices.
My metaphor for all of this is being in the middle of a big landslide - I can't wait for the dust to settle so we can sift through the rubble and find a new normal. We will but it will be another year or so in my humble opinion. There's just a lot of boulders on the road that we have to weave in and out of daily. I believe that we are all doing our best in the design industry to try to pivot, and not get caught up in ourselves. For us here at Nancy Lane Interiors, our goal and the bottom line is that we pay attention to all of the hazards in the industry and truly scrutinize trade vendors we are sourcing through and steering clear of red flags in order to mitigate these times as much as possible. #lovemadeintheUSA
Like I said from the top, these lead times are serious and real. Honestly you couldn't make this stuff up. My goal, I hope you understand, is not to be negative but to truly set expectations - extra time to complete a project is now non-negotiable. Hopefully this gives you a more holistic look at all the factors affecting the design process, and convinces you to reach out sooner rather than later if you're seriously looking at a design project in 2022! We would love to help - reach out here to get the process started!