What to Plan For in Building in 2023: An Interview With Our Experts
We recently chatted with the team at Brand Vaughan Lumber about what they learned in 2022, and we wanted to hear more from them about what builders and homeowners can expect in the year to come.
We’ll look at everything from design trends to updates on the building supply chain, and offer some perspective on what builders can do to weather the months ahead.
Expectations in Building
When we talked with Steve Nolte, who heads up our Outside Sales team, about what he expects to see over the course of this year, one thing is certain — everyone is eager to sell.
“The interest rates had a large impact on trends,” says Steve, who weighed in on last year’s lessons over on this blog. But the rate hikes are forecasted to stop in the next few months, according to data from the National Association of Homebuilders (NAHB).
The Brand Vaughan team has served homebuilders in the southeast United States for quite a few decades throughout a range of economic climates. John Donkar has been with our Installed Services department since he started it about a decade ago.
“People were really handcuffed the past couple of years because of the market,” he says, “and we’re eager to get back out there and start selling.”
Supply chain issues, inflation and the pandemic influenced builders and their customers in a big way. “Lifestyle changes due to the pandemic continue to hold strong,” wrote Barbara Ballinger in December for the National Association of Realtors. “Cutting home expenses and conserving resources are top of mind for many.”
This consumer behavior has influenced the kinds of projects that are in play right now. Single-family home projects have dropped significantly because of interest rates. But that’s given rise to more projects in another area: build-to-rent.
All of this forces a shift in home design trends in a big way. We’ll start to see more simple, straightforward home styles in the next few years. “This is helping to keep costs down,” explains John, who believes more minimal design with high-performing products, will “alleviate supply chain issues and labor issues.”
Despite constraints with materials, Brand Vaughan customers have been able to create simple, successful home designs. “Builders are seeing that they don’t have to offer so many options,” says John. “You will always see custom builders, but build-to-rent is more simple, overall. And even higher-end homes will lean toward this simple design trend, which is also about product availability.”
All About Material Supply
“A bunch of markets were at all-time highs,” says Steve, who recalls the sky-high prices of lumber not long ago.
According to Construction Dive, lumber prices went through massive upheaval in 2022, which “has since eased and cement and diesel costs are now giving contractors grief. That volatility makes it difficult for contractors to plan projects, and it has not been uniform across construction materials.”
These upheavals were unexpected for those of us on the job site. “It is an all-new frontier, and people will have to adjust to the new rates,” says Steve. The shift is daunting, but the NAHB is forecasting an end to the rate hikes, and Steve is hopeful that we’ll settle into something that’s a little easier to navigate – the “new” normal of the building industry.
“We’ll get back to a more normal market, and a better, more stable market for both buyer and seller,” says Steve. This is especially true for the customers we service in Atlanta.
“The builders in Atlanta are resetting for 2023 and beyond,” says Steve. “The Southeast stands to be as strong as any place in the U.S.”
“We’re supposed to be one of the strongest markets, from a regional standpoint,” says John. “Inventory levels have remained low in Atlanta, but people outside the region have had an influx.”
To stay on top of supplies, John and Steve offer support and advice for builders, contractors and installers:
- “You can capitalize on the situation right now,” says Steve. “Many vendors are offering discounts, so keep pushing back. I know window companies who are already rolling back on prices.”
- “Many suppliers are stuck in between the manufacturer and the customer, but as a supplier, we can push back to get customers a better deal,” explains John. “Hang in there and push back when needed,” he further advises builders.
- We know builders have been working hard, often with a backlog of projects ahead of them. “We’ve dealt with similar problems and want to help builders in a difficult market,” says John.
Strength in Numbers
Having a good relationship with your materials supplier is key to staying ahead in construction this year, and Brand Vaughan is proud to offer a full menu of high-performing products, along with the support of our installation and sales teams.
“Brand Vaughan has built strong relationships with our existing customers over the last few years. We didn’t have the option of gaining new customers at some points,” explains John.
Navigating difficult times is something we’ve had experience with at Brand Vaughan, and it’s why “Strength Lies Within,” is part of our mission statement. We’re grateful to have seen as much success as we have — but we share that success with our customers and would love to help with your next project.