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Plan for projects to avoid supply-chain issues, get materials

Planning a project in advance is a key to avoiding supply-chain issues and getting materials on time.

Clyde Schmautz.jpg
Clyde Schmautz, owner and manager of Infinity Building Services, said the cost of materials has stabilized quite a bit. He said prices have decreased on commodities such as wood.
Masaki Ova / The Jamestown Sun
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JAMESTOWN – Homeowners should start planning for their home renovations as the winter is a slower period when contractors will have more time to help design the projects, according to David Hillerud, vice president of Hillerud Construction Inc.

It is advantageous to homeowners to get better prices on their projects if it is done in advance because they might get a lower quote for their projects, Hillerud said.

“It’s probably more competitive because everybody is trying to get a job or two under their belt to start in the spring,” he said.

With issues in the supply chain, the sooner a project gets planned out, the materials can get ordered faster rather than a homeowner making a call to a contractor in the spring and waiting 12 weeks for materials to arrive, he said. He said the supply-chain issue has improved but there are still items that used to take about two to three weeks to get that now take about 12 to 16 weeks.

Clyde Schmautz, owner and manager of Infinity Building Services, said the fall season is a good time to get your projects scheduled in advance and products ordered for the spring. He said all contractors are booked with projects for a fair amount of the remainder of the year.

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“Now you have time to figure out what you want to do and get everything in line,” he said, including getting the right contractors and materials on hand.

For example, Schmautz said some cabinet companies are 40 weeks out by the time orders arrive while others might be 16 weeks out or only four weeks out. He also said it will take about 12 weeks to get windows.

He said most of Infinity’s manufacturers aren’t extending their lead time on products but the supply-chain issue isn’t getting a lot better.

“At least they’ve been holding their own,” he said.

Hillerud said every industry is having difficulty finding people to work. As orders come in to manufacturers, the companies get bigger backlogs that push the delivery times further out because they are trying to do the same amount of work with fewer employees.

Contractors are also having a difficult time getting help, he said.

“You put an ad in and there just doesn’t seem to be people who are looking,” he said. “It’s always been a struggle, since we’ve been in business, to keep and maintain a consistent workforce.”

Schmautz said the labor issue is not just happening in Jamestown but also to the larger contractors across the state. He said contractors from outside the Jamestown area are working on larger projects around town and are also facing labor issues.

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Schmautz said the cost of materials has stabilized quite a bit. He said commodity prices such as wood have decreased.

But he said he doesn’t foresee the prices of manufactured products ever coming back down.

Hillerud said the cost of materials hasn’t decreased too much as the prices are still well above where they were a year or two ago. He said prices from suppliers kept increasing monthly for a while, but now there might be a slight decrease for certain materials like steel and lumber.

“Increases have slowed to maybe quarterly,” he said. “I think now they are trying to feel out the market and see if they can justify getting more money for what they are selling. It’s supply and demand that they are trying to figure out.”

The price for manufactured products has increased with inflation, he said. And with the labor shortage in the U.S. right now, all companies are fighting to employ the same group of people.

“So the demand for employees goes up so you have to start offering more in terms of wages, benefits, perks to try to set yourself apart from everybody else and that adds to the cost of doing business too,” he said.

Contacting a contractor, getting building permit

How soon a homeowner contacts a contractor about a project depends on what type it is, Schmautz said.

“The larger the project, the more time you will need,” he said.

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Hillerud said it’s a good idea to get a hold of a contractor ahead of time, especially if a homeowner is in the planning stages of the project.

He said it doesn’t take long to get a building permit from the city of Jamestown if there is a plan for the project that can be viewed.

“You can’t just walk in and say I’m going to remodel this building and it’s going to be $200,000 and give me a permit,” he said. “(Zoning Administrator Tom Blackmore) is going to say, ‘What are you doing? What’s the building used for now? How are we changing it?’”

Hillerud said if the project is in a new development or repurposing a piece of property, it might have to be rezoned or replatted, a process that could take three to four months.

Interest rates increasing is also a concern for Hillerud. He said homeowners will be paying more to borrow money.

“When people have less money, they don’t spend as much,” he said. “I think that is going to have a bearing here coming up where that’s going to start having an effect on the market."

Masaki Ova joined The Jamestown Sun in August 2021 as a reporter. He grew up on a farm near Pingree, N.D. He majored in communications at the University of Jamestown, N.D.
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