Supply chain shortages bring chaos and delays to Columbus construction

Construction contractors in central Ohio and throughout the nation are suffering from supply chain shortages as well as escalating costs. Many do not know when the items will become available.

As a result, some project managers and contractors hesitate to build in the current environment.

Central Ohio contractors face a lack of drywall and roofing materials, according to Columbus/Central Ohio Building and Construction Trades Council Executive Secretary-Treasurer Dorsey Hager. 

“Our contractors are working around these shortages,” Hager said. “Steel and iron look to be next.” 

As of early November, material shortages have only affected progress when a particular trade comes onsite. Project completion dates have not been dramatically pushed back.

Chris Naegele, IUPAT District Council 6 Business Representative for Local 1275 in Columbus and Local 555 in Portsmouth, confirmed reports about material shortages. The issue has kept members of the finishing trades on the bench. 

Painters and drywall finishers received steady work from January through August. By September, a lack of drywall began affecting projects. Roughly two months later, once full warehouses now sit empty. 

In addition to Central Ohio, the problem has affected work in the Dayton, Cincinnati and Portsmouth areas. Naegele believes the problem will continue into the second quarter of 2022, based on conversations with his contractors.

“It affects morale,” Naegele admitted. “Not being able to work weighs heavily on them, especially with the holidays coming up.”

The producer price index for new non-residential construction – a measure of what contractors say they would charge to erect five types of non-residential buildings – rose 5.2 percent over the past 12 months, despite a decline of 0.9 percent in the latest month, according to an October AGC report.

Compared to September 2020, the producer price index in September 2021 for products has been staggering. Steel mill products (+134 percent), copper and brass mill shapes (+39.5 percent), aluminum mill shapes (+35.1 percent), plastic construction products (+29.5 percent), gypsum products such as drywall, which is in short supply in certain parts of Ohio (+23 percent), insulation materials (+19 percent) and asphalt and tar roofing and siding products (+13.1 percent).

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