KITCHENER -- Home improvements projects are just one way people have been keeping busy during the pandemic.

But those plans for decks, patios and fences were delayed because of an ongoing lumber shortage.

It took six weeks to get enough wood for Teresa Myers’ backyard fence.

She says she had to put the project, and her summer plans, on hold until her contractor tracked down supplies.

“We had a vacation that we were going to take, and we kind of moved our schedule around just in case. Then we got the call that everything was here and they were ready to go.”

Construction started at her Kitchener home on Wednesday.

Jay Aissa, the owner of Jay Fencing in Waterloo, says sawmills were closed for up to eight weeks at the start of the pandemic.

“That created a gap, and that gap is getting harder to fill.”

Wood shipments were delayed and many stores were left with dwindling supplies. Deliveries of other construction materials, like imported screws and nails, have also been arriving late after being stuck in port cities.

The most in-demand item is pressure-treated wood, used for many outdoor construction projects.

The shortage is also causing a problem for construction businesses.

“All the commercial sites that were supposed to be started in May and June, they’re all backed up to August and September,” says Aissa.

He says the shortage could have a trickle-down effect.

“We need the supply to keep them going otherwise we’ll have to lay [workers] off.”

At Swanson’s Home Hardware in Kitchener, lumber sales skyrocketed at the start of the pandemic, as those stuck at home decided to make the most of the lockdown.

“We really had a year’s worth of sales in a short period of time,” says owner Brad Swanson. “So when we went to reorder from the suppliers, we weren’t able to reload.”

Swanson says they received a new shipment on Wednesday morning, but just hours later it was all gone as they worked to fill back orders.

- With reporting by Zayn Jinah