New survey cites big jump in cabinetmaker shortage
October 17, 2021 | 8:41 pm CDT
Houzz Q4 2021 Construction Barometer

A new survey reports a 14-percent increase in the shortage of cabinet professionals related to home remodeling and construction.

Houzz Inc., a platform for home remodeling and design, released its Q4 2021 Houzz Renovation Barometer, which reported that businesses in the remodeling and home construction sector anticipate strong activity through the end of the year. However, those same businesses also report steady increases in backlogs since the beginning of the pandemic, and construction professionals in particular report wait times of nearly three months before new projects can begin.

Add to that, more than nine in 10 construction businesses reported moderate to severe skilled labor shortages in Q4 (91 percent). While fewer pros reported shortages across all categories this quarter than in Q3, carpenters, laborers, framers and cabinet specialists continue to be in shortest supply (52, 43, 36 and 35 percent, respectively). 

Houzz Q4 2021 Backlog Indicator

Availability for cabinet specialists has been particularly impacted with an increase of 14 percentage points since 2019 (35 versus 21 percent, respectively). Conversely, shortages for drywallers, plumbers, concrete specialists, flooring specialists and roofers saw six or more percentage point decreases from Q3.

Supply chain issues were also a key concern in the report. While only half of businesses anticipated heightened costs for raw materials, such as lumber, copper, steel, plastic and aluminum, more than two-thirds reported that these materials actually increased in cost over the past quarter. Following recent price hikes for lumber, only two in five businesses expect that costs will continue to rise through the end of the year. Alternatively, pros seem to be more concerned about the rise of steel prices going into Q4.

As to the overall outlook, responses for recent and anticipated performance diverge somewhat among the two subsectors of architectural and design services. Architects have a positive outlook, anticipating an increase in project inquiries and new committed projects. However, interior designers’ optimism about Q4 is tempered, reporting lower expectations than last quarter for project inquiries and new committed projects.

“Confidence prevails across the industry through year-end despite the Expected Business Activity Indicator dipping slightly compared with the very high level last quarter,” said Marine Sargsyan, Houzz senior economist. “We’ve seen some settling of home renovation and design activity following record high performance earlier in the year. Yet many businesses are struggling to catch up with heightened demand as they navigate supply chain challenges and labor availability, leading to record-long backlogs.”

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William Sampson

William Sampson is a lifelong woodworker, and he has been an advocate for small-scale entrepreneurs and lean manufacturing since the 1980s. He was the editor of Fine Woodworking magazine in the early 1990s and founded WoodshopBusiness magazine, which he eventually sold and merged with CabinetMaker magazine. He helped found the Cabinet Makers Association in 1998 and was its first executive director. Today, as editorial director of Woodworking Network and FDMC magazine he has more than 20 years experience covering the professional woodworking industry. His popular "In the Shop" tool reviews and videos appear monthly in FDMC.