Smart homeowners are educating themselves about how the global supply chain might affect their ADU. A little planning can go a long way in managing supply chain ups and downs!

The supply chain is a term used to describe the series of companies that provide raw materials, products, and services to produce an end product—in this case, an accessory dwelling unit. 

The chain includes all the steps from either harvesting raw material or manufacturing a part to transporting it, storing it, delivering it, and installing it.

ADUs are small houses made up of thousands of items, each of which is part of a supply chain. The tiniest nail or the shiniest new fridge arrives at your property after what was probably a long journey.

If the journey takes it across international borders, it’s part of the global supply chain. Many items used in home construction are imported from Asia.

If there’s a problem in the supply chain, your ADU build may be delayed unless you can find an alternative to the missing material or product. 

The supply chain is one more element to weigh when you’re considering an ADU. Trying to decide if now is the right time to build ? Maxable’s free ADU Planning Phone Call is a great place to start!

Supply chain challenges in home construction

The Covid 19 pandemic prompted a burst of home renovation projects on top of what was already a nationwide surge in home construction.  Both are still in high gear.

That means there’s strong demand for everything that goes into building a home, especially lumber. 

Canada is our largest supplier of lumber. Unfortunately, wildfires and bark-eating beetles have depleted the forests in British Columbia, a key lumber-producing Canadian province. That has reduced the supply.

We depend on mills in Canada to produce lumber and on truckers in Canada and the U.S. to deliver it. If anything clogs up that chain—Covid, weather, not enough mill workers, trucks, or truck drivers—there will be less available lumber and it will cost more.

Lumber isn’t the only item vulnerable to supply chain delays. Plumbing fixtures, cabinets, windows, and HVAC systems are among items cited by ADU builders as being harder to come by lately. 


Design your ADU with the supply chain in mind

Planning ahead is the best strategy for dealing with supply chain issues. Until recently, budget was the main consideration when it came to designing an ADU. Today you should also be sure to talk with your designer about the supply chain. Ask:

  • What materials and finishes have you had trouble obtaining over the past few months?
  • Have general contractors told you about any supply chain issues that concern them?
  • Are there any materials, finishes, or fixtures you know are in plentiful supply?
  • Is there anything on my design wish list you believe might be hard to find?
  • Are there alternative products or materials I could consider?

If you factor in the supply chain from the very beginning of the design process, you have a better chance of sticking to your construction schedule. It gives you time to order materials far in advance of when your builder will need them, so there’s wiggle room if the product gets delayed.

Flexibility is more important than ever

To soften the impact of the supply chain on your ADU build, be flexible about finishes.  Don’t get your heart set on just one tile or light fixture!

We’ve found that homeowners who are building an ADU to rent tend to be more flexible than those who are building a “dream ADU” to live in or house a relative. They’re willing to buy finishes off the shelf at the suppliers’ as opposed to being wedded to specific models.

adu supply chain

Florentine Christian of Sidekick Homes explains, “Off the shelf means that when we walk into the supply shop, we buy whatever is there on the day we walk in. It still always looks great–we buy good quality materials. But it’s what is there, not something specific.”

Items that are in stock in the quantity you need are golden these days.  Purchase that flooring or those cabinets, store them, and you’ve dodged some potential supply chain issues.

For a comparison between a garage conversion with custom finishes and one that used off-the-shelf finishes, click here.

An ADU’s value is more predictable than the supply chain

It’s unclear how quickly the global supply chain will recover from the pandemic or what impact other world events will have on the flow of building supplies to our state. 

But one thing is certain: California housing is expensive! If you can afford to build an ADU, odds are it will increase your property value and quite possibly your income if you rent out the unit. 

According to a 2021 year-end report by Homelight, ADUs in the Pacific region increased a single-family home’s value by an average of 36%.

So when you’re planning your ADU, be strategic. Keep informed about the supply chain, have realistic expectations about your build timeline, and be flexible in your aesthetic choices. 

Take the long view: consider not just your design wish list but also how the ADU might benefit you and your family in the years to come.  

ADU supply chain

ADU designed and built SFBayADU

Maxable’s consultants help you set your ADU goals

All the moving pieces involved in building an ADU can seem overwhelming. That’s why we’re here! No need to do all the research by yourself. Unless you’re an architect or builder, it’s a lot of new info to absorb.

Maxable’s broad experience with ADUs gives us a unique perspective on construction in your region. With a pool of talented ADU design partners and seasoned general contractor partners, we can give you up-to-the-minute intel on construction trends in your area and the best options for your budget.

Reach out for a free ADU Planning Phone Call and learn how you can be part of your city’s ADU building boom!


The Atlantic. Lumber Prices Are off the Rails Again. Blame Climate Change.

Business Insider. Home builders are desperate for quick and inexpensive materials, so they’re turning to Home Depot and Congress for help.

Georgia Tech News Center. Building and Construction Industry Face Supply Chain Disruptions, but There Is Hope.

Homelight. Top Agent Insights for End of Year 2021.

Tampa Bay Business Journal. Industry challenges and trends: The construction supply chain.