August 15, 2022

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Architects, like many professionals throughout the United States, have been impacted by supply chain shortages...

Architects, like many professionals throughout the United States, have been impacted by supply chain shortages brought about by COVID-19, the Russia/Ukraine conflict, and other circumstances. Androsky Lugo (aka A. Alberto Lugo), CEO of Framing Futures Architectural Firm in Southern California, explains how architectural designs are impacted by shortages of various building materials and offers advice to help developers select a design that suits their needs without risking project delays.

Many individuals planning a custom home or a large commercial development have specific ideas regarding which types of materials should be used, Androsky Lugo notes. Unfortunately, even many common materials are in short supply, including windows, doors, framing lumber, oriented strand board, plastic roofing membranes, and mineral wool.

Architects need to be aware of which materials are not immediately available in order to provide clients with an accurate price quote. In some instances, desired materials can be obtained but at a higher price and with a longer wait time than would have been the case before COVID-19.

In other instances, a client may find that the best option is to consider tweaking or even completely changing a building’s design in order to ensure construction is completed on time. An investor, for instance, may decide it’s best to change some materials used in the project in order to start generating rental income in a timely manner, while an individual building a custom home for his or her family may opt to wait out the supply chain crunch in order to use predetermined materials.

Androsky Lugo also points out that the supply chain shortage isn’t just affecting materials but also his profession and the construction industry overall. Many construction companies laid off workers during the 2020 lockdowns only to find that many of these workers are no longer interested in going back to their old jobs, and there are no fast and simple replacements for them.

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At the same time, the architectural profession was already facing shortages before COVID, and the problem hasn’t resolved itself in the last two years. Architects are getting on in years and preparing to retire, and there are not enough trained architects ready to take their place. What’s more, many individuals who do study architecture are either foreign citizens planning on returning to their home countries or individuals who are planning a career path in academia or a related field.

Androsky Lugo notes that individuals who need architectural services should be prepared to encounter shortages of both experienced architects and many commonly-used construction materials. Flexibility at this stage is key, especially if a project must be completed by a certain time, and those working with an architect should carefully assess their priorities in order to make modifications that accommodate the lack of immediately available material options.

At the same time, Lugo cautions, architects will want to familiarize themselves with supply chain shortages of construction materials in their local area in order to help clients accurately assess the cost of a project and/or choose an alternative design and/or materials.