In nearly every major US metropolis, new single- and multifamily residential construction is climbing at a steady pace. Contractors and developers, however, struggle to maintain workload and meet delivery dates due to labor shortages across the country. In all markets, project managers increasingly feel pressure to retain qualified and skilled tradesmen, thanks to rising construction jobs and a 10-year low unemployment rate of just 4.5.%
After the housing bust of 2007, much of the workforce abandoned saturated markets, like Orlando and Las Vegas, to seek more stable employment. Forecasting didn’t predict a rapidly rebounding market, and the recent booms have left hundreds of thousands of jobs vacant, ultimately increasing costs and slowing construction completion.
We also see less young people entering today’s construction field, and more skilled tradesmen exiting as aging workers approach retirement. According to a survey by the National Association of Home Builders, “only 3 percent of survey respondents ages 18-25 chose construction as a career field.” According to Associated Builders and Contractors, the construction industry will face a 2-million-person shortage, as pertained to skilled labor, by the end of the decade.
The demand for new construction and remodels continues to trend upward, and the question remains: how do we fix it?
Short term solutions include incentivizing tenured workers to delay retirement, offsetting back load of projects. Other solutions point to revamping vocational programs and recruiting targeted populations into solid work without the requirement of a college degree. The disadvantage to these solutions is the time involved to instate these programs, and the temporary nature of holding on to aged tradesmen.
A more dependable solution is to navigate methods requiring less dependency on the workforce. By spec’ing materials in the planning and design stage which use less labor and output less waste, projects could see lowered costs and better time management.
Contractors and developers can actually gain time in the finishing stage of construction, and stop the proverbial bleeding.
For example, one of the top 10 home trends of 2017, is rustic interiors using wood paneling and ceiling applications. Contractors increasingly field request from commercial and residential developers to employ natural woods in their projects – from interior spaces of apartment clubhouses to covered outdoor porches and patios in single-family homes.
Finding an experienced carpenter for a wood finishing project would be daunting at best in today’s market. And, the time and labor spent on cutting, sanding, staining and applying the wood can be astronomical, not to mention the waste cost associated with raw wood. Labor could potentially be reduced by 60% using a product that is tongue and groove, end matched, sanded and prefinished with stain. It also enables employment of less experienced workers with a more economical wage.
Contractors have discovered Synergy Wood Products to be the solution their projects need to gain traction in today’s market. Using proprietary manufacturing processes each of their planks, no matter the finish, are tongue and groove, end-matched, smoothly sanded and hand-wiped after the stain is applied. This delivers deep, consistent color that is hard to duplicate in on-site application. Additionally, several layers of sealer and polyurethane are applied to the all boards, leaving their plant durable and ready to install. This eliminates waste in the field and cuts labor – delivering not only a solution, but a top quality product.
Construction labor deficits aren’t expected to improve anytime soon. Think outside of the labor box and use materials in your projects that reduce strain on the growing labor shortage. Smart project planning where designers and architects spec less labor dependent materials will lead to cost and time savings for the entire project team, increase production overall and maintain a satisfied consumer base.
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