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Why are lead times so long for new windows in 2021? (Article/Video)

September 23rd, 2021 | 5 min. read

Why are lead times so long for new windows in 2021? (Article/Video)

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You’ve chosen a contractor for your home improvement project, had multiple appointments to design everything, and have technical measurements taken. 

Excitement, eagerness, and maybe some nerves are pumping through your body while you’re in this holding period before construction can start. 

When you’re told that it’s going to take five months for your windows to come in before they can be installed, you’re confused, maybe even a little frustrated. 

Why is it going to take so long for them to come in? I don’t want to wait!

Whether you’re getting your windows, siding, or door replaced, there are supply issues all over the market, causing it to take much longer for your products to come in than it normally would. 

Video: "Why is New Window Lead Time So Long in 2021?" down below

Southwest Exteriors has been a home remodeling contractor in San Antonio since 1989. Because we’ve been serving the area for so long, we know that this is not normal, and we understand your frustrations and concerns when it comes to your project. 

These are unheard-of times. With the COVID-19 pandemic, numerous struggles have come about that manufacturers and contractors have never had to deal with. 

This article will outline why lead times have increased between when they are ordered to when they arrive. 

After reading, you will better understand why it will take much longer than usual for your new windows, doors, or siding to be installed and hopefully feel some relief knowing you are not alone. 

Why are lead times for new windows so long? 

Chances are, you’ve probably had an experience recently where you’ve ordered something for your home, closet, or car and wait weeks, maybe even months, for it to come in. 

Over the past year and a half, we have experienced shortages like never before. Toilet paper, fresh produce, even clean water and heat during snowstorms. 

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, businesses in every industry have had to adjust to the times continuously. We’ve never seen anything like this before. 

Windows can take up to six months to come in. And that’s not the only type of products that have longer lead times. Siding can take six months, doors are taking almost three months to come in, and we’ve even heard homeowners talk about it taking four weeks for new truck tires to come in. 

The pandemic is the number one reason why we are experiencing these shortages like never before. Here we will dive deeper into what specifically stems from the pandemic to cause this. 

1. Factories and warehouses had closed for safety reasons

At the beginning of the pandemic, many stores, offices, and warehouses were forced to close for safety reasons. 

Although most businesses have been back to functioning as normal, these closures from the beginning have created a ripple effect. Orders for materials became backed up with limited labor to catch them up. 

Even now, manufacturers have not caught up from the time that was lost to pandemic closures. This is the first reason why lead times have become so long, even now. 

2. Labor shortages across the industry 

After warehouses and businesses had to temporarily close or limit the number of individuals allowed at one time, many went home and never came back. Some even lost their jobs. 

This has created a massive labor shortage in the industry. Fewer workers mean less production. 

As employees lost their jobs, many also decided not to return to work or find other work. This has added to the labor shortage in the industry, lowering productivity. 

Less production means that your windows, siding, and doors cannot be made as fast as they used to be, equaling a longer lead time between when your products are ordered and when they arrive.

3. More people are home every day, looking for something to upgrade

When things first shut down, almost everyone was forced to work from home, or at least stay home. The more you’re home, the more you inspect where you live, looking for something to fix and upgrade. 

Because most are spending more time at home, we have experienced a large increase in demand for windows, siding, doors, concrete coatings, and paint. 

Simply put, more homeowners want to upgrade their homes. This increase in demand combined with a shortage in labor and supplies has exponentially increased the lead times. 

All of these factors put together have created a market we’ve never seen before. Labor supply is low, creating a lower supply of materials and products, meaning it will take longer for your home improvement project to start. 

What are manufacturers and contractors doing to help? 

As a contractor working with these manufacturing shortages, we understand your frustrations with having to wait longer for your home improvement project to begin. 

Some manufacturers, like James Hardie, have decreased the variety of products they offer to increase production of others to combat these shortages and decrease lead times. 

While we can’t speak to what all contractors are doing to help their customers, we can shed some light as to how we’re adapting. Here at Southwest Exteriors, communication is one of the most important principles to us. We never want you to feel in the dark about your project and what is going on. 

While we’ve always prioritized this, we have ramped up our updates and communication with you during this time. We know how nerve-wracking it can be to work with a contractor and sit around waiting for them to call. 

We always want to be one step ahead so you are always updated and never feel abandoned, even if it will take months for your new windows to come in. 

What you can do as a homeowner 

Unfortunately, there is nothing we can do as a contractor to help with these manufacturing supply shortages. We are here to serve you through your home improvement project and provide as much support as we can. 

We ask while working with us that you remain patient and trust us. Know that this is an industry-wide issue that many are dealing with, and it’s not just us. 

However, we are committed to keeping you updated through your project and providing any assistance and assurance we can for you. 

Do you have any questions about your project? Contact your project manager or call our front office at 210-828-5555 to be connected or reach out to us on Facebook to talk with a Southwest Exteriors representative.