flexiblefullpage - default
Currently Reading

5 Ways Home Builders Can Maintain Quality Despite Supply Chain Issues

billboard - default
Quality Matters

5 Ways Home Builders Can Maintain Quality Despite Supply Chain Issues

It’s OK to swap out building products, but not at the expense of your construction quality standards

By Graham Davis January 8, 2023
Maintaining construction quality during supply chain disruptions may mean switching to a different type of insulation
Builders have come up with solutions to complete homes when the critical path becomes the path less followed. | Photo: courtesy IBACOS
This article first appeared in the January/February 2023 issue of Pro Builder.

The past two years of supply chain disruptions, compounded by labor shortages, have forced builders to embrace the Marine Corps mantra to improvise, adapt, and overcome. To this I would add “... while maintaining your quality standards.”

Home Builder Solutions to Beat Supply Chain Challenges

Throughout these still-challenging times, I’ve seen builders come up with creative and viable solutions to properly complete homes when the critical path becomes the path less followed. Here are some examples.

1. Window Flashing

To keep projects moving when the windows are nowhere in sight, leave the housewrap stretched over their rough openings, which will help to protect the interior until windows arrive.

To install siding while you wait, tack a minimum 4-inch-wide trim around window openings with the nailheads held just off the surface. Once the windows are on site, you can gently remove the trim, which should provide sufficient room to properly flash the windows (see photo, below).

Ensuring construction quality around window openings during supply chain disruptions
Finish before flashing: To keep working when windows are delayed, it’s OK to install the finished siding but hold back the trim so windows can be properly flashed during installation. | Photo: courtesy: IBACOS

2. Structural Elements

Structural sheathing can be interchanged with other more readily available options, but work with your architect or engineer to ensure compliance with the building’s requirements.

If changing from sheathing that requires a water resistive barrier (WRB), such as OSB or plywood, to those that do not, such as Thermo-Ply or Zip System panels, ensure everyone involved learns and applies the manufacturer’s installation details. On-site training offered by the manufacturer can help a lot.

It’s also important to understand how differences in vapor permeability among sheathing materials affect wall performance. Be aware of and stay close to the wall vapor profile that’s recommended for your climate.


3. Housewraps

Not all housewraps are created equal; they vary significantly in permeability ratings and in their ability to function as an air barrier.

Unperforated housewraps both shed bulk water more effectively than perforated ones and can also improve airtightness. Do your homework and be aware of your climate conditions (see photos, below).

Unperforated housewrap installed on a home exterior
All housewraps are not equal: An unperforated housewrap (above) is the preferred spec for wet climates and should not be swapped for a perforated product (below), which is better suited to dry-climate conditions. Whichever you choose, proper installation is critical to their ultimate performance. | Photos: courtesy IBACOS

Perforated housewrap is better suited to dry-climate conditions


4. Insulation

While wall cavity insulation products can be interchanged, they vary significantly in their thermal (R-value) ratings and impact on a wall’s vapor profile.

Fiberglass batts and loose-fill products can be used in any climate, but damp-sprayed cellulose isn’t recommended for hot/humid areas. Closed-cell spray foam insulation can be used in any climate and also provides an excellent air barrier (see photos, below).

Some builders are switching to spray-foam insulation due to supply chain issues
Cavity insulation: Some builders have switched to spray foam insulation (above) due to supply chain issues, which is usually an appropriate swap for fiberglass batts (below) and also provide a greater measure of airtightness and cavity coverage toward a thermally efficient shell. | Photos: courtesy IBACOS
Fiberglass batts installed to insulate a home wall cavity


5. Tile Backers

There are two primary types of wet-area tile backer: those that are surface draining (such as DensShield), and those recommended to be installed over a WRB or made to be waterproof on the surface (such as cementitious Durock). There’s also a class of waterproof membrane, such as Schluter-Kerdi, that provide a fully waterproof membrane over a variety of backers that are adequately secured to the framing to bear the weight of the tile.

The critical point is to avoid simply swapping out tile backer products without knowing what’s required to make them waterproof. My rule of thumb: If a shower can’t be used before the tile goes on, it isn’t ready for tile.

Before you try alternatives to these critical material specs, perform your due diligence on the differences in their performance and confer with your architect, engineer, and especially your trade partners. And if you do switch, make sure you inform or remind trades of your specific installation standards and keep a close eye on their work

Graham Davis is a senior building performance specialist on the PERFORM Builder Solutions team at IBACOS.

leaderboard2 - default

Related Stories

Quality Matters

5 Ways to Silence Squeaky Floors

Take these tips to heart to deliver quiet floors and satisfied homeowners

Quality Matters

Tips for Placing HVAC Ducts in Conditioned Space

See how putting HVAC ducts inside conditioned space in a home benefits both the builder and the homeowner


Ladder Safety Tips for Every Jobsite

Like any construction tool, proper and safe ladder and pump jack use requires dedicated training and constant respect  

boombox1 -
native1 - default
halfpage2 -

More in Category

Home builders can maximize efficiencies gained through simplification and standardization by automating both on-site and back-office operations 

Delaware-based Schell Brothers, our 2023 Builder of the Year, brings a refreshing approach to delivering homes and measuring success with an overriding mission of happiness

NAHB Chairman's Message: In a challenging business environment for home builders, and with higher housing costs for families, the National Association of Home Builders is working to help home builders better meet the nation's housing needs

native2 - default
halfpage1 -

Create an account

By creating an account, you agree to Pro Builder's terms of service and privacy policy.

Daily Feed Newsletter

Get Pro Builder in your inbox

Each day, Pro Builder's editors assemble the latest breaking industry news, hottest trends, and most relevant research, delivered to your inbox.

Save the stories you care about

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet lorem ipsum dolor sit amet lorem ipsum dolor sit amet.

The bookmark icon allows you to save any story to your account to read it later
Tap it once to save, and tap it again to unsave

It looks like you’re using an ad-blocker!

Pro Builder is an advertisting supported site and we noticed you have ad-blocking enabled in your browser. There are two ways you can keep reading:

Disable your ad-blocker
Disable now
Subscribe to Pro Builder
Already a member? Sign in
Become a Member

Subscribe to Pro Builder for unlimited access

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua.