Much of the month of July was spent awaiting materials, and the labor to install them. Several weeks went by with almost no progress on the project at all. Appliances in particular are suffering from long delays coming from the manufacturers due to the well-publicized chip shortage as well as shipping delays. Even raw materials like lumber and roofing metal were in short supply with long delivery delays throughout the spring and early summer. Thankfully, we had already received most of the framing, flooring, and roofing lumber we needed, but we ran into an issue with the metal for the roof.
We ordered the new cabinets, countertops, oven, cook top, dishwasher, bathtubs, and shower surrounds early in the project. The dishwasher, tubs, and shower walls were ordered the first week in May from Lowe’s. The rest, we ordered from Home Depot. We knew that there were material delivery delays worldwide due to the aftermath of the COVID-19 PANdemIC, but we had no idea how severe the delivery tailbacks were. The items we ordered from Home Depot had arrived by late June. The dishwasher arrived at Lowe’s about the same time, but we asked to consolidate its delivery with the tub and shower walls. Those two items were projected for delivery on July 1st. After waiting all day for the delivery on that day, and getting kicked around by the Lowe’s delivery customer support hotline, we finally found out (by visiting the local Lowe’s store ourselves) that the delivery truck had broken down. Furthermore, we learned that the tub and shower still hadn’t arrived from the manufacturer. The new delivery was set for July 9th. On that day, the dishwasher arrived, but no tub and shower surround. We went back to Lowe’s and learned that the new estimated delivery from the manufacturer had been pushed back to July 16th. Note that none of this information was offered up by Lowe’s on their own initiative. We had to go digging for it. Furthermore, Lowe’s customer phone support didn’t tell us. We had to physically go to the store to find out. I finally recognized a pattern of failure at Lowe’s, and began trolling around looking for an alternate source on Monday July 12th.
Gateway Plumbing Supply in Pendleton, SC had the exact (almost) fixtures we had ordered from Lowe’s in stock at their Greenville and Rock Hill locations. The only problem was that they couldn’t be delivered until later in the week. The plumbers were scheduled to arrive the next day – July 13th – to begin the plumbing rough-in installations. So after giving the man in Pendleton my credit card number, off I set in my big Mercedes van for Rock Hill. I arrived around lunch time, and loaded up the shower walls. After grabbing a quick bite at the Bojangles drive-through, I headed back toward Greenville, arriving ten minutes before closing time to pick up the tub. The trip was just over 300 miles, but (apart from the cost of the diesel for the van) I earned a little under $1 per mile because Gateway’s price for the items was just shy of $300 cheaper than Lowe’s even with my Lowe’s 10% military discount (the main reason we ordered the stuff from Lowe’s in the first place). As it turned out, I needn’t have jumped through hoops to get the tub and shower walls up to the site. The plumbers didn’t show up for the rough-in installation until the next week! After dinner that evening, we meandered over to Lowe’s and cancelled the delinquent backorder.
In my previous post, I wrote about the trouble we had with roof leaks, and the fact that the leaks weren’t really taken care of until the metal roof was installed. Unfortunately, for most of the month of July, we simply couldn’t get the roofing material. The metal supplier couldn’t even give us a firm date that we might expect the metal to arrive at their facility. Our builder searched the entire area for a supplier that could provide the metal, but no one seemed to have it. We thought it might be due to the color we had chosen to match the existing roof on the original house. At one point, we had even toyed with the idea of just replacing the entire roof with another color. That would have cost several thousand dollars extra, but we were willing to do it. As it turned out though, we couldn’t get enough metal even in another color.
Finally near the end of July, the supplier from whom we had ordered the metal found enough of the desired color from a supplier in Florida, and had it shipped overnight up to their facility in Upstate SC! They were going to bring the raw metal onto site along with their bending machine, but couldn’t do that due to rain. You could have knocked us over with a feather when we showed up at the site after church to pick up our doggies, and the guys from the metal supplier were there unloading the metal from their flatbed trailer on a Sunday afternoon!
HVAC Line Sets
In the meantime, while we awaited the plumbing fixtures and roofing metal, our builder was pressing ahead with the portions of the utility rough-ins that could be completed without them. We had initially intended to put a new forced-air HVAC system into the addition, but the global materials shortages had impacted HVAC unit deliveries too. The HVAC installer said he could get a two-zone Gree mini-split ductless system like the three units we already had in the original house right away. So we decided to go with that option instead of a traditional ducted system. In truth, that is what we would have preferred in the first place. The costs were roughly the same even though the Gree units are a little more expensive, because there was no need to install duct work and come up with some way for the return air to be routed. The problem was with getting the line sets for the new units. We waited for over a week to get those.