ROSIE ON THE HOUSE

Apply patience when buying new appliances during pandemic

Sep 23, 2021, 3:00 PM
(Shutterstock Photo)...
(Shutterstock Photo)
(Shutterstock Photo)

Your remodeling project is almost done. The kitchen is rewired. The walls are painted. The countertops and cabinets are installed. All that’s left is installing the appliances.

Don’t get ready to fire up that five-burner flattop just yet. You may be ordering take-out for a while. Home appliances are in high demand and in short supply.

Large appliances, such as refrigerators, ranges, and dishwashers, are in short supply everywhere. While the pandemic created (or forced) us to cook at home and re-evaluate our living spaces, it also forced many manufacturers to halt production for a while.

Now we are faced with shortages of microchips, stainless steel, and plastic — the main components of appliances. In addition, shipping containers have been in short supply. As homeowners continue to update their kitchens, the demand for these products will be driven even higher.

According to the National Home Building Association (NAHB), shortages of materials are now more widespread than at any time since NAHB began tracking the issue in the 1990s.

More than 90% of builders reported shortages of appliances, framing lumber, and plywood. Exactly 90% said there was a shortage of plywood, and nearly as many respondents (87%) said there was a shortage of windows and doors, in the May 2021 survey for the NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI).

The shortages are not only widespread but broad-based. Of the two dozen items listed in the May 2021 survey, 12 were checked as being in short supply by at least 70% of the builders. In total, 16 were checked as in short supply by more than 60%, and 21 were checked as in short supply by more than 5%.

All two dozen were flagged as in short supply by at least 43% of the builders who purchase the item. In contrast, when the HMI survey last covered the topic in June 2020, fewer than 40% of builders reported a shortage of any of the listed products and materials.

The one item listed in 2021 but not in 2020 was appliances. Historically, NAHB notes, builders have not often complained about appliance shortages, until this year.

Their addition to the list turned out to be more than justified. Ninety-five percent of builders reported a shortage of appliances in May 2021 — the single highest shortage percentage recorded on any item since NAHB began systematically collecting the information in the 1990s.

How can you continue your remodeling project when you can’t get the items needed?

Order appliances at beginning of the project

Expect there will be delays in your project. Order the appliances far in advance and pad the project with time for their arrival before the first sledgehammer touches a surface.

Be flexible

Don’t fall in love with a particular item, color, or brand. You may not get it and have to “settle” for something else.

One of the ROTH staffers was in the market for a black dishwasher. Because black is no longer trending, she was told it would take nine to 12 months to receive it.

Rather than buying a new one that wouldn’t match, the old one was repaired to get her family by.

Don’t Lone Range(r) it

If you think you can get new appliances faster than your designer or contractor, think again. An experienced professional will manage your appliance orders and effectively plan the project around the delivery dates.

This can help ensure everything arrives on time for installation. Many design professionals have longstanding relationships with vendors who may offer options not available directly to consumers.

Fire up the grill

If you don’t have appliances at all or the kitchen is unusable, make the most out of your grill. There is a lot of you can cook beyond the traditional barbecue fare. Click here for recipes under the “Agricultural” and “Cajun” tabs. Do not set up a portable grill indoors. You could create a safety hazard.

If you still have your old appliances, move them to the patio, as long as the manufacturer says they are safe for outdoor use. Refrigerators and icemakers designed for indoor use and placed outdoors can be damaged by extreme temperatures.

If those are not options, ask your appliance vendor if they can provide a temporary substitute until the new refrigerator or range arrives.

Postpone your remodel

Dare we say it? Yes. Hold off on starting your project until the industry catches up.

Yes, you risk the possibility of increased costs, but you won’t be living in a partially unusable house. Let the demand and the supply chain stabilize, and your project will run more smoothly.

Go with the flow

The arrival of the appliances is out of your hands. Unless you are heading to the manufacturer to make it yourself, there’s not much you can do. Find your Zen spot, be patient, and go with the flow.

First isn’t always best

If you camp out overnight at the Apple Store or Best Buy to get the latest version of the iPhone, restrain yourself when it comes to buying the latest model of appliances.

It can be exciting to be the first on the block with the newest toy. Such a large investment requires information and reliability ratings before making a decision. Because a new model is well … new, there isn’t much data available to determine how reliable it will be. There’s little to no information about trouble spots or kinks.

Comprehensive warranties and complimentary maintenance offerings may be enticing, but they won’t ease the pain of inconvenience if the appliance consistently needs repair.

Do as much research as possible before making a purchase. Consider reliability and energy savings in comparison to existing models.

Be patient. Do your research and listen to your contractor and designer. They will do their best to ensure a pleasant remodeling experience.

Join Rosie on the House every Saturday morning from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. on KTAR News 92.3 FM. If you’d like to send us questions or comments, email mailto:info@rosieonthehouse.com. Follow us on Twitter and “Like” us on Facebook. For more do-it-yourself tips, go to rosieonthehouse.com. An Arizona home building and remodeling industry expert since 1988, Rosie Romero is the host of the syndicated Saturday morning Rosie on the House radio program. Call 888-767-4348 with questions and comments.

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Apply patience when buying new appliances during pandemic