The ripple effects of the pandemic are felt not only in our personal lives, but in the way we do business too. From how we buy materials and propose timelines to how our team maintains a collaborative approach (together, remotely, or on site) – the one constant these days is change.
From every angle, our industry has experienced a kind of boom. With a greater emphasis on comfortable home lives coming to light, more people are looking to architects to build their dream home – a place where they'd happily nest more often than not. With that incredible uptick in demand came a wrench to the supply chain. And with that wrench, a line of dominoes that cascaded down the operative line. How we plan our projects, collaborate with our partners, and communicate with our clients all had to realign with this new world we now call home.
When it comes to materials, improvisation and flexibility have been key to getting by. We, along with our clients, have had to be more open-minded in the process of source selection. With delivery dates, inventories, and costs fluctuating by the hour, our team has had to switch gears at every turn, strategizing beyond Plan A for all aspects of a project. Pre-order appliances, some varieties of wood siding, and exterior insulation have been especially challenging to come by as of late.
Luckily, we typically work with builders early on in the design phase of a project and they're able to provide insider knowledge about what's running at a premium cost, running right off the shelves, or not running at all. Where we used to see lead times of 8 weeks, now, in some cases, you can expect delays as long as 22 weeks or more.
With all these plates in the air, project management has had to constantly adapt, leaving room for the unknown. Setting clear expectations with our clients and devising honest, realistic targets with our builders has made a world of difference as we navigate our work. We also have long-standing relationships with consultants from structural and civil engineers to interior and lighting designers who help us keep our strategies proactive, innovative, and on track.
On site visits, crews are isolated, vaccinated, and masked. It's palpable in this community of professionals that no one wants to be the reason a project has to shut down. Everyone has a role to play in the creation of someone's home, and they're all willing to do their part to get it done safely.
As for our team approach, in Covid times or not, it's all about communication – wherever we may be. We hold remote, internal design charrettes, utilize virtual annotation tools, and stay engaged with each other throughout the day via chat channels and email. We've learned who has a natural talent for drawing with a mouse…and who does not! We've done the best we can to make remote feel like together.
Looking ahead, we know it will take some time for the supply chain to improve, and of course, for the pandemic at large to subside. Until then, we'll continue to adapt and evolve – because no home comes to life without a lot of hard work.