Jennifer Leischer Design and Decor columnist

Long lead times bring a ‘hurry up and wait’ attitude to design projects

Long lead times bring a ‘hurry up and wait’ attitude to design projects
Long lead times from vendors can stall a renovation project and cause frustration. (Photo by Daniela Gisin Krumsick on

Jennifer Leischer Design and Decor columnistIf you’ve been out shopping for your design project, you’ve probably encountered a nasty pair of words: lead time.

And that can mean a slow and agonizing delay.

Lead time is the amount of time it takes to manufacture or construct something, as well as the shipping time to get to your jobsite.

It’s the length of time it will take for your beautiful hand-painted tile to arrive or the 30 yards of super plush chenille to ship from Italy. Not to mention the time it will take for the exterior manmade stones, the quartz countertops, the wool area rug, the kitchen appliances, the dining room chandelier and the windows for the addition.


Aggravation, frustration and helplessness are words that come to mind when a vendor casually shares a lead time of 8-10 weeks, 12-14 weeks … or even six-eight months.

You wonder: “Am I crazy to wait this long for this product? Isn’t there something else I like just as much that has better availability?”

We all like to think that there are other options, but once you have your heart set on that one thing that took you months to locate, and even more time to create a design plan with this object as the focal point, well, you’re in deep. There’s no going back now. You’re committed.

Lengthy lead times may be a sign of the times. Perhaps retail and custom workrooms have altered production times because they have an overabundance of work. Or maybe there are more customers and fewer products in the retail realm.

Whatever the reason, finding out about a long lead time is down-right irritating.

Silver lining

So, is there a silver lining in this scenario? Sometimes we must consciously decide to only source building materials that are in stock and ready to ship immediately. You may have to settle for products that are your second and third choices, but if project timing or instant gratification are truly at issue, “quick ship” products are your best bet, as well as products right off the shelf.

If you willingly make the decision to purchase building materials that have extra-long lead times, be up front with your contractor. Design projects truly are all about the timeline and following a specific sequence of events.

It’s hard to be patient once you’ve made the decision to begin a design project, especially if the contractor has fit you into the schedule. But it doesn’t make sense to live in a construction zone for longer than necessary. Unless other projects need to be done, wait to start your project until all building materials are sitting in your garage ready for the contractor.

Then when it’s time to start the project, everything will be at hands reach and the project should move along swiftly.

Jennifer Leischer is the owner of J. Designs Interior Design based in Clayton. Contact her with questions, comments and suggestions at