How Material Shortages Impact the Consultant Team

The last few years have been inundated by material shortages. While some of those are resolving, new ones are appearing and the impact on projects continues.

Jan 25, 2023

In recent years, there have been multiple supply chain issues and material shortages that directly impact the construction industry. When there are product shortages, it’s easy to understand how this will impact the Contractors and the Owner. The Contractors cannot get the products they need on-site, and therefore work is held up while they try and source products or alternates. An Owner knows that alternates and schedule impacts can result in additional costs. However, people don’t see the impact on Consultants as clearly. There is a lot that goes on behind the scenes before and during construction. 

Picture this scenario, there is a large condo tower being constructed, and there is a sudden shortage of drywall. The Owner and the GC come to the conclusion that the best way to keep moving forward with construction with minimal impact on the budget is to switch as many wall types as possible to concrete blocks. That sounds pretty straightforward, swap an apple for an orange. They’re both round pieces of fruit. Problem solved. 

The amount of time and effort that would go into redoing entire drawing sets would be ridiculous. I know what you’re thinking, “why redo the entire set, just tell the Contractor to change the wall types.” It’s not that simple. You would need to redo building sections, check specific scenarios where a certain fire rating or finish is impacted, ensure square footage is not impacted where rooms have a minimum size, etc…And that’s just on the Architectural side. There would be many impacts on mechanical, electrical, and structural consultants.

So what can be done?

Work together as a team, and stop having side conversations that cut people out. Consultants bring an intangible amount of knowledge and experience to the table. Ideas on making revisions and selecting alternates impact every single person on the team. When a recommendation is made, Consultants should speak up and be a part of the conversation. Of course, you don’t want to impact the schedule or the budget, but you need to be cautious about the extra hours that would be incurred.

Be part of the conversation.