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‘Doesn’t Feel like a Short-Term Glitch’: Materials Shortages Rock Construction Projects

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November 10, 2021

By Barrett Seaman —

The Hudson Independent presents “The Supply Chain Crisis Isn’t Just Global; It’s Local,” a series describing how international manufacturing and shipping woes affect everyday life in the rivertowns. Read on for the third installment, which explains how building supply shortages impact local construction projects. (Don’t miss our installments about Flying Fingers Yarn Shop and Piccola Trattoria.)

Case #3: Gotham Design & Community Development

Gotham Design’s Paddy Steinschneider (Barrett Seaman/The Hudson Independent)

Padraic “Paddy” Steinschneider has been designing and building houses and other structures in the rivertowns for more than three decades. Now he finds himself facing a business environment that “has completely changed how construction can be done.”

The supply situation he faces “doesn’t feel like a short-term glitch; it’s a new way of doing business,” and it is definitely not to his liking.

The standard formula Steinschneider has followed in the past — designing a structure that meets a client’s requests as well as the local zoning and building codes; pricing materials needed and working up the specs, including a construction timeline; making a cost proposal; and getting the job done.

The supply chain “glitches” have affected virtually every aspect of that formula. “We’re renovating a house in Irvington,” says Steinschneider. “We placed an order for windows in July and were told there would be delays but that we would be getting them in approximately eight to ten weeks. We’re waiting for an update right now on when they will be delivering the windows.”

“We’re putting new heating in the house, so I have my contractor come out and talk about new equipment and exactly what the owner wants in terms of a new system. But they can’t tell us whether they will be able to get that equipment — at all. It’s not that they’re running four weeks behind; it’s that they just don’t know the status is of anything that’s coming in — either because it’s manufactured someplace else or that it includes components from somewhere else. If there are [computer] chips that go into dryers or ovens or refrigerators, they just don’t know.”

Delivery time is only part of the problem caused by supply disruptions. Lack of supply equals pressure on price.  Steinschneider is seeing shortages of LVL (laminated veneer lumber — plywood) boards that are a staple of construction. “How do you put together a bid when the price used to be $4 but is now going up to $13 and construction is supposed to start in three months?”

How do you get around it? In lumber, you look in “sleepier markets” — upstate or Pennsylvania, says Steinschneider.

Even solving sourcing doesn’t resolve the sequencing builders need to factor in. “I can’t do my electrical until I have my windows in, so I’m sitting with this job in Irvington where we’d like to get the windows in, but the fact that the windows have been delayed has held us up on every other component of the project.

“Clients may be sympathetic at first, but when they start to feel inconvenienced, they ask, ‘well, why didn’t you do this?’”

If the global sup­ply chain cri­sis af­fects your lo­cal busi­ness, please con­tact The Hud­son In­de­pen­dent.


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