Managing Supply Chain Disruptions on K12 Facility Projects

COVID-19 has significantly impacted America’s supply chain. Lead times of building products crucial to the construction of K12 school facilities have been extended creating delays in construction and increased construction costs. Items such as tapered roof insulation, windows and HVAC equipment are experiencing up to 6-month lead times from approved shop drawings and the placement of orders. While we cannot predict the lasting impact of the current supply chain issues, there are several steps which can be taken to manage K12 facility projects during this time:

  • Get ahead of the curve. While we would normally advise our school clients to bid projects in the first quarter of a year for construction during the summer of that year, where feasible we now recommend school projects be bid by December of the prior year to provide sufficient lead time for affected equipment and materials.
  • Consider phased construction during the school year. Ideally school construction is performed during the unoccupied or less occupied summer months. The reasons for this are safety, access to those areas being renovated and to minimize disruption. Properly planned, it is feasible to execute portions of work during the school year. In many instances projects such as window and unit ventilator replacements can be performed off-hours on a classroom-by-classroom basis without impact. Where swing space can be identified and proper provisions for temporary protection can be devised, it is possible to renovate larger areas in a phased manner.
  • Consider an alternate approach.  While a complete roof replacement may be planned, consider whether a roof restoration approach is viable. Roof restorations typically involve the installation of a fluid applied coating over the existing roof system thereby avoiding the lead time delays of new tapered insulation. An infrared scan should be performed to determine the presence of moisture below the existing roof system and the viability of salvaging the existing insulation. When feasible, roof restoration projects can provide a significant savings while also offering a 20-year manufacturer warranty. Concerning mechanical systems, Energy Recovery Ventilator (ERV) and Variable Refrigerant Flow (VRF) equipment are presently more readily available than traditional Unit Ventilator and Packaged Rooftop equipment. There are many ways to address project requirements. It is important to understand equipment availability when designing K12 facility projects. 


EI Associates has been providing architectural designs and engineering solutions since 1934. EI Associates is a full-service, multi-disciplined architecture, engineering, and construction management firm with offices in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Our diverse staff of over 100 planners, architects, interior designers, engineers, estimators, and construction professionals has been serving educational, corporate, retail, life science, industrial, and government clients for the last 87 years.