According to the latest American Community Survey from the U.S. Census Bureau, about 4 million people now work in residential construction (both single-family and multifamily) – down from the 5 million who were employed just before the Great Recession. Although the workforce has shrunk by 20 percent nationwide, some parts of the country are experiencing less pain than others. Similarly, light commercial construction has been reportedly back on the rise post-Recession, with IBISWorld reporting that the recovery started just before 2014 and continuing steadily through 2019 (source).
As builders report that cost and availability of skilled labor is their top challenge, smart hiring and retention practices can help reduce that burden. In a recent blog post titled “Staffing Up: How Contractors Can Cope With the Labor Shortage,” LP shared a list of seven ways to attract younger job candidates to the construction industry. Couple that information with “Staffing Up: Tips to Retain Your Employees” for ways to keep skilled employees on staff.
The Impact of Second/Vacation Homes on Residential Construction Labor
California, our most populous state, has the most residential construction workers. According to a study by the NAHB, nearly 600,000 Californians work in residential construction, representing over 3 percent of the state’s labor force. Florida ranks second, mainly due to its large stock of vacation and seasonal homes.
Some Mountain states likewise benefit from a large number of vacation homes. For example, Idaho (with a population of just 1.75 million) nevertheless has a lot of residential construction workers – 4.6 percent of the state’s labor force. Mississippi, which is nearly twice as populous as Idaho but has far fewer vacation homes, has one of the nation’s lowest number of residential construction workers. The worker shortage is most severe in northern New Mexico and rural portions of Mississippi, Alabama and Louisiana.
“It’s hard to find qualified construction workers in our part of Louisiana – like those who know how to install engineered wood siding,” says Chad Futch, owner of KEH Builders in Pineville, Louisiana and a LP® SmartSide® Trim & Siding user. “It’s also very difficult to retain qualified people because they come and go so fast.”
As seasoned workers retire and get replaced by less experienced ones, builders are increasingly choosing building products like engineered wood siding that are designed for easier installation. And there are now wall assemblies that are much lighter and easier to install than traditional assemblies using shaft wall liner. LP supports its users in building efficiency through various educational avenues, including onsite trainings and virtual guides. For example, the LP® FlameBlock® videos illustrate how to install the fire-rated sheathing in a variety of code-approved assemblies for fire resistance.
The supply of modestly priced starter homes continues to drop nationwide. A recent report by Realtor.com found that the number of homes priced above $750,000 grew 11 percent last year, while the number of starter homes priced under $200,000 fell by 8 percent.Continue Reading
Any building professional will tell you that the quality of a building material is only as good as its warranty. This is why LP Building Solutions created an industry-leading limited warranty for our line of LP® SmartSide® siding products. One that aims to ensure peace-of-mind for builders and homeowners.
While it’s perfectly alright for a jazz musician to improvise, that approach doesn’t always work as well in homebuilding. Architects, specifiers, engineers and product reps spend many hours collaboratively choosing the right materials for each job – and an abrupt substitution to save a few dollars can ironically be very costly in terms of callbacks, design underperformance and even code violations. “Ideally, all parties involved – the architect, builder and developer – have reviewed the spec before it’s final and have agreed on all the products being used,” says Karen Alves, LP Brand Marketing Associate. “That’s because finding an ‘equivalent’ for siding or fire-rated sheathing involves not just the substrate but the codes that the product meets as well.”
Siding installers use many different brands of circular saws, but their preferred saw may not be as important as the siding material they are cutting with it. Some builders can sometimes be a bit removed from the importance placed on saw choice and would probably rely on their subcontractors choice, like Brent Taylor. “I don’t have much of an opinion on that because I use subcontracted labor,” says Brent Taylor, owner of O.C. Taylor in Raleigh, North Carolina, who was featured in an episode of Designing Spaces on Lifetime Network renovating a century-old house using LP® SmartSide® Trim & Siding.