Supply Chain Issues in Design & Construction: The Frustrations and The Beauty

construction supply chain issues

The ‘S’ word of the pandemic isn’t Snow (though we in Manitoba may think so) – rather, it stands for Supply as in the Supply Chain. The supply chain is the sequence of processes involved from the production of a product or commodity to its distribution to the end-user.

Since mid-2020, we’ve experienced the effects of the supply chain disruption, including many products, which may have been readily available to us in the past, now in short supply and the cost of these products increasing significantly.

If you’ve had the privilege of living your entire life in an abundant country, like Canada, you may be accustomed to getting the things you want when you want them. The store shelves are always full and companies like Amazon have done a fantastic job of teaching us (almost) instant gratification. It’s no wonder that waiting makes us frustrated, but we’ve entered a new reality including when it comes to renovating, building, and furnishing our spaces. Some of the supplies that have either been back-ordered or have seen prices skyrocket include:

  • Lumber and metal for framing
  • MDF for cabinetry
  • Windows and doors
  • Breakers for your electrical panel
  • Plumbing fixtures
  • Paint (yes, there is a shortage of certain pigments & bases of paint, so even wall colours have limitations!)

it's late tshirt

And don’t get us started on furniture! The sofa that used to take 4-6 weeks from order date to sitting in your living room is now 18-20 weeks along with the increased costs, mostly shipping. We were recently quoted $1,700 to ship a $4,500 order of accent tables and the client, rightfully so, said ‘“no way”, so we went back to the drawing board. 

One of the biggest challenges of this new reality is we can’t predict the price increases or the shipping delays, as they are constantly in flux. We’re actually considering getting a new S3 team uniform that says, “I’m sorry it’s delayed… AGAIN!” 

So…where’s the upside in all of this? Because I promise you, it exists and we’ve seen it first hand.

Support. Local. Makers! 

With exorbitant shipping rates, we’ve become more attuned to what’s available in our own city and province. The pricing of a custom piece made locally is suddenly comparable in price to a generic, lesser quality piece purchased overseas. For example, S3 has used a custom upholstery shop in Winnipeg for years. On occasion, we’d have a client who required a custom piece of furniture and the results were always spectacular, but for some reason, the custom route was more often our back-up plan, not our go-to option. 

In the last year, we’ve recommended more clients to buying custom, locally-made furniture than ever before, and it’s a win-win for everyone! They get furniture that is completely customized and of extremely high quality, from a supplier who will service their pieces for years to come. It’s a beautiful thing, and it just makes sense.  

With all of the shortages, delays, and inflated costs on products, right now may not be the best time to build your project, but it’s certainly a great time to design it. The supply chain can’t stop great ideas and it shouldn’t delay you from getting your project on paper. A well-constructed & detailed plan takes time, so while our clients are waiting for contractors to become available and the supply chain to normalize, we’re able to focus our attention on a comprehensive plan to allow the construction to move forward when the time is right. You can’t take us down, Supply Chain!

We know that waiting can be frustrating, especially when you’ve been dreaming of your new space for months or even years, but don’t lose hope…it will happen! The timing and cost may look different than you anticipated, so taking the extra time to plan works out better for you in the long run.

We’ll make it through this and learn from it. If we exit this pandemic with any lessons, my hope is that patience and grace are two of the big ones to carry us forward.

Your Definitive Guide to Running a Renovation Project

Over the last two years, we’ve noticed an increase in residential home renovations. We’ve been home more often than ever, so we’ve had time to dream about our homes’ possibilities and become keenly aware of the things that desperately require change. Read more

Realities of Renovating- Part 2 : DIY vs. Bring in the Professionals

A few weeks ago I started a blog series titled: ‘Renovations: Reality vs. “Reality” TV’.   My goal is to share with you years of experience in the design / building industry and to offer some insight on how to best prepare for the realities of renovating.  Let’s dig into step 1 of 3:

Understand the scope of your project.  Is it a ‘do it yourself-er’ or do trained professionals need to be involved? If it’s the latter, then become knowledgeable on what types of professional are available and their roles.

D.I.Y. has been a popular acronym for the past 20 years or so.  (Actually according to Wikipedia, it was introduced in 1912 and came in to common usage in the 1950’s, but it really took hold once the world wide web and HGTV came along.) D.I.Y. primarily exists in the residential realm where homeowners plug into websites like Pinterest, Houzz, and You Tube where endless creative ideas exist.  Do-It-Yourself is meant for simple projects where weekend warriors can roll up their sleeves, put in some time and elbow grease, save some money and feel proud about the fruits of their labour.  IKEA was born out of the D.I.Y. movement. (A favourite place of mine, I’m not going to lie.)













So when does a project go from D.I.Y. to “bring in the professionals”?  Here’s a top 5 list that indicates you should start hiring:

  1. Your renovation requires a permit and the stamp of a design professional.
  2. Your renovation requires structural, mechanical and / or electrical alterations.
  3. You have no design experience and don’t want to waste money on costly mistakes.
  4. You’ve never picked up a tool in your life and can’t decipher which end is up. Especially if the tools are sharp.
  5. Your time and energies are better spent focusing on what you’re good at so that you can pay a professional to do what they’re good at.

Once you’ve decided that your project is not a, what types of professionals should you be calling?  Here’s a list of options and the types of work they do:

Architect:  A licensed professional responsible for planning, designing, and reviewing the construction of buildings.  They create total environments, focusing heavily on the building shell. Architects often act as the prime (coordinating) consultant on major building / renovating projects, especially commercially.

Interior Designer:  A professional responsible for designing functional and creative design solutions for interior environments. They work within the building shell to design for the health, safety and well-being of occupants. Interior Designers often act as the prime (coordinating) consultant on interior focused commercial or residential projects.

Architectural Lighting Designer: A professional responsible for the design of lighting systems, including  the control of natural light, electric light, or both, to enhance and strengthen design and to  serve human needs. They work closely with Architects, Interior Designers and Electrical Engineers.

Structural Engineer: A professional responsible for ensuring that structures to withstand stresses and pressures imposed through environmental conditions and human use. They make sure the building doesn’t fall down.

Mechanical Engineer: On a building or renovation project, the Mechanical Engineer is the professional responsible for the design, construction, and testing of mechanical systems.  This often focuses on heating, cooling, fire protection, plumbing and air quality systems.

Electrical Engineer: On a building or renovation project, the Electrical Engineer is the professional responsible for the design, construction, and testing of electrical devices.  This often focuses on calculating & distributing electrical loads, wiring, communication & building controls and specifying electrical systems.

General Contractor:  A general contractor, or G.C., is hired to take the plans created by the professionals and bring them to reality.  He or she will orchestrate the comings and goings of the trades, order mate­rials, inspect the work done and coordinate an ever-changing schedule.

So now that you know when a project has gone beyond D.I.Y and the range of professionals available for hire, where do you go from here?


Start by talking with design professionals who specialize in the area most appropriate for your project (see definitions above).  Have phone conversations and / or face to face meetings with a few until you find someone you feel has the expertise you require and understands your needs. You’ll be working closely with this person / team, so don’t underestimate the importance of finding someone you mesh with.

In my next blog post we’ll dig deeper into how to establish clear goals and objectives. This will help you to focus yourself and the design professional(s) you select.

Until then, I wish you success in your D.I.Y. or in your search for the right team of professionals!



tracy dyck photo