Kitchen remodels almost always involve tough decisions around function, style, and budget, but pulling one off in 2021 can be particularly challenging. Large appliances, such as refrigerators, ranges, and dishwashers, are in short supply around the country, with backorders and shipping delays making it difficult for homeowners to complete their dream kitchen in a timely manner. According to data from the National Association of Home Builders, 95% of home builders reported a shortage of appliances in May 2021, the most widespread supply issue for any item ever reported by the NAHB.
Many of these delays can be attributed to the COVID-19 pandemic, which caused some manufacturers to cut back on production, notes Melissa Haber, vice president of EuroChef USA, which imports Verona brand appliances. Combined with low supplies and rising costs of raw materials, this created shortages of essential components such as microchips, stainless steel, and plastic, as well as shipping containers used to transport the products. And as more homeowners plan to update their kitchens after more than a year of cooking and eating at home for most meals, high demand is making these supply-chain disruptions even worse.
Out-of-stock products and long lead times are now the norm, with some homeowners waiting up to nine months for a refrigerator to arrive, says Nashville-based designer Jessica Davis of JL Design. But if you're in the middle of a remodel, you often can't afford to go without a functional cooking space for months on end. Here are some ways to work around backordered appliances and delays so you can complete your kitchen as soon as possible.
1. Order appliances early.
Plan for delays as you create a timeline for your kitchen remodel. Order appliances well in advance and build in extra time for them to arrive. "We make sure to work with our clients to place orders and get shipping dates and estimated arrivals before the remodel starts to try and prevent delays," says Scottsdale designer Lauren Lerner of Living with Lolo. Once you begin tearing out the old kitchen, you don't want to have to wait an additional few weeks (or even months) for your new dishwasher or refrigerator to arrive.
2. Be flexible with styles, sizes, and brands.
Insisting on a particular style or brand can lead to long delays if that product is out of stock, so flexibility could be key to completing your remodel on time. Consider whether that gas range is truly a must-have, for example, or if you could settle for an electric or dual-fuel model instead, Haber suggests. Try swapping in a similar model from a different brand, adjusting for a smaller size, or mixing up stainless-steel and colored appliances. Settling for a slightly different product might help you get cooking in your new kitchen much faster.
3. Work with a professional.
Kitchen remodels can be stressful, especially when dealing with delays and constantly changing timelines. Hiring a designer or project manager to handle the nitty-gritty details can help relieve you of much of that stress. Lerner says her best advice is to work with an experienced professional who can manage your appliance orders and effectively plan the project around the delivery dates. This can help ensure everything arrives on time for installation so you won't have to deal with a remodel for longer than needed. Some design professionals also have longstanding relationships with vendors who will go out of their way to help in the event of a delay, Lerner adds.
4. Set up a temporary kitchen in the meantime.
If you're waiting on backordered appliances, consider temporary solutions that can tide you over in the meantime. Davis says one of her clients set up a makeshift kitchen in another room with a portable grill, their old refrigerator, and extra storage bins to use while their remodel finishes up. In some cases, appliance vendors might be willing to provide a temporary substitute until your new refrigerator or range arrives. Be prepared to adapt in the interim if you want to continue cooking and eating at home.
5. Push your remodeling plans back.
Haber says she expects product shortages and longer lead times to continue for another 12-18 months. If you'd rather not deal with limited product options and extended timelines, it might be best to put your remodeling plans on hold for the time being. Waiting for demand to normalize and the supply chain difficulties to subside could make your kitchen remodel run more smoothly.
6. Have patience.
If you are about to embark on a kitchen remodel or in the midst of one now, set realistic expectations for your project and remain patient if things don't go exactly to plan. "I encourage homeowners to just know that the project will get done and that everyone is doing the best they can," Davis says. "If you are going to jump into a remodel anytime soon, you have to be pretty laidback to handle some of the delays and canceled orders."