Q1. What types of plastic building supplies are going up in price?
Resin, which is the basis for all vinyl railing and fencing products, has risen at a never-before-seen rate. The cost of aluminum, too, has gone up rapidly. Both have driven up the costs of aluminum railing and fencing products—and even on our vinyl railing, which uses aluminum inserts for added strength.
Q2. What factors are causing it?
With more people staying at home and wanting to update or enhance their interior and exterior living spaces, the demand for home building materials has outpaced the supply.
The pandemic continues to disrupt the resin supply chain. That, along with increased demand, particularly in the Gulf States where extreme weather caused a lot of property damage, has made it difficult for producers to keep up. Aluminum is also more difficult to get. International suppliers have a limited supply and shipping overseas comes with challenges. This has overstressed the aluminum supply here in the U.S., driving prices higher. Increased labor and transportation costs are also affecting prices.
Q3. Is there anything contractors can do to help lessen the financial impact?
Here are a few ideas to consider:
- Add an extra percentage into quotes to help cover unknowns and unpredictability.
- Keep stock on the shelf, which will help offset potential future price increases.
- Set a limit for how long you’ll honor homeowner quotes—perhaps 7 to 10 days, max.
- Consider putting a materials surcharge rider clause in contracts or bids on jobs that are several weeks or more away. This will allow customers to know up front that if your materials costs rise, so will your price to them.
- Identify opportunities to upsell from lumber to vinyl or aluminum products, which have a higher profit margin. (The cost of lumber has increased, too, lessening the cost gap between wood and more durable, better-quality materials.)
Be honest with customers about the changes and unpredictability in pricing and product availability to avoid giving them any unwelcome surprises.
Q4. What can we expect going forward?
The demand for building materials is predicted to remain strong through 2021 and into 2022. As supply lags behind demand, also expect the labor market to continue to impact pricing. With more open job positions than there are applicants, wages will be driven higher and have a ripple effect.