Brian Easterby recently moved out of Toronto and managed to secure a home in a competitive market, but now he can’t paint his walls the colour he wants and can’t get efficient windows in time for winter.
“I think for every new homeowner, you have ideas about what you want to do to your new home and you have a vision,” said Easterby, a 32-year-old construction site inspector who bought a home in Kingston, Ont. in late July. “But we keep running into suppliers who don’t have the product.”
He said he was recently shopping at a retailer that sells Sherwin-Williams Co. paints and was told it was unable to provide any samples to take home and test out as there currently isn’t enough raw product available for sampling.
The American paint manufacturer said global supply chain issues, increased demand for home renovations during the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as recent storms in the U.S. are all factors crimping the flow of getting their goods to market.
“More recently, Hurricane Ida has impacted chemical facilities in Louisiana, putting further pressure on the supply chain and raw material availability,” said Julie Young, vice president of global corporate communications at Sherwin-Williams, in a statement to BNN Bloomberg. “The pace at which capacity comes back online and supply becomes more robust remains uncertain.”
Having purchased an older home, Easterby was also eager to upgrade his windows to make them more energy efficient, but local installation companies are too backlogged to fit his timeline, he said.
“After getting a quote in September, we were getting install dates for as late as May next year,” Easterby said.
BNN Bloomberg also heard from several Toronto homeowners who were getting quoted similar timeframes by window installation companies.
Windows and paint may be some of the first items for a new homeowner to tackle, but once those projects are complete, it’s time to outfit and design that home. That’s been no easy feat either.
“There’s been a huge uptick in people looking to remodel and improve their homes or turn rooms into offices.” said Isabelle Boba, founder of LUX Interior Design Inc., a Toronto-based interior design firm.
“At the beginning of the pandemic, we were struggling with it [supply chain issues], but then as a team we started sourcing things more locally, from within Canada, because there were so many unknowns with product coming from the U.S.”
In many cases, she said, goods coming from suppliers in the U.S. were either out of inventory, or products would get stuck at the border for weeks.
“We had clients that were waiting for a sofa from the U.S., for example, so we ended up having to buy a few locally-made sofas to give people temporary sofas, just to have something to sit on,” she said.
Boba said LUX, which caters to more upscale clientele, is still meeting homeowners' needs within their timeline, but if a customer is picky and wants something specific, they’re going to have to wait.
In addition to delays getting products, Boba said increased supplier costs and tariffs are, regrettably, being passed on to the customer.
One unspecified U.S. supplier LUX has worked with for years recently warned the design firm that it is now implementing a freight charge of 23 per cent on any product shipped to Canada.
“Other suppliers have made it very complicated, as they’re saying certain items, depending on where they come from, will have different surcharges,” she said. “That’s very confusing for designers because we don’t know where the supplier is getting their goods from and now we have to consider the country of origin.
She’s trained her staff to be upfront of potential delays when first consulting clients, but said they’ve ultimately been very understanding. Nevertheless, she advised potential customers to shop local where possible and to be patient.
Any homeowner would do well to heed that advice. A recent survey from RATESDOTCA and BNN Bloomberg indicated nearly half of all Canadians are renovating or are planning to renovate in the near future, and they don’t want to take on more debt to get the job done.
Easterby is looking on the bright side and said these issues outfitting his new home have been a good excuse to roll up his sleeves, while at the same time saving some money.
“One benefit of the shortage, is I’ve taken more of the onus on myself to research how I can do things in a more economical fashion, where I don’t need to hire a third party to do the work, and have also been looking at cheaper ways to source materials.”