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Industry Trends3 min

Why Key Strategies for Reducing Labor Time May Be Backfiring

Many construction companies and remodelers have been sorely challenged by the shortage of skilled laborers. As more companies struggle to find good workers and juggle projects, many are thirsty for strategies that promise to trim time.

But are these strategies for reducing labor times effective?

As companies try to find field workers, current laborers are taking on longer hours. Several publications are reporting that workers are putting in more hours per person. But while this is good for individual paychecks, it turns out productivity is dropping, decreasing by half since the 1960s. 

Unfortunately, some construction companies and remodelers are already finding overworked and under-skilled laborers are taking longer to do projects. Additionally, the industry’s “rush to save time” may be impacting quality if not immediately, then further down the line. Issues including poor measurement may cause delays further down the construction pipeline when cabinet installers and plumbers are brought in. Additional watch outs include:  

  • Poor attention to detail
  • Joints that are not airtight
  • Warranty callbacks
  • Revised orders not made to plans

The skilled labor shortage isn’t likely to go away anytime soon. Therefore, one long-term solution is to identify, specify and use products that install easily and have additional benefits, like those made of engineered wood. For instance, LP’s water-resistive barrier, LP WeatherLogic® Air & Water Barrier system, installs with ease, eliminates the need for a secondary house wrap and allows for a cleaner jobsite. Another example is LP® SmartSide®  Trim & Siding. It’s easier to cut and features a lighter weight than most wood siding products. Many engineered wood products eliminate steps in the installation process and can help increase jobsite productivity. 

Another long-term solution is to make a significant change, all the way back to square one.

For the past 30 years, Gerald McCaughey, CEO for Entekra, has championed off-site construction. He also has strong opinions of the consequences of this particular labor market.

“If your current building process is labor constrained and you can’t change the labor market, then you must change the process,” McCaughey says. “There is no labor shortage in preconstruction.”

“People talk about the workforce crisis. But there is a process and time management problem. Our Fully Integrated Off-Site Solution or FIOSS construction system can deliver 500% productivity increase over stick-built framing,” he says. “In the time it takes to complete one stick-built frame, off-site construction is able to finish 12 completed frames with three in progress after a 15-day construction period.” 

Increased Safety Risks

Another problem uncovered by the labor shortage is on-the-job safety. Safety risks can range from unskilled workers performing skilled tasks to errors or accidents happening due to lack of adequate supervision, and many others in between. 

Choosing products like LP SmartSide Trim & Siding can help ease overall safety risks. It helps to be vigilant in specifying construction products and materials that are easier to install and require no specialized woodworking tools, helping increase jobsite safety.

On-the-job safety and workers’ compensation insurance rates are another reason to explore off-site construction. Since all frames are made inside the factory, uniform and consistent processes and procedures increase worker safety. In the field, the structural elements are sequentially off-loaded and assembled with crane assistance for efficiency and safety. 

Refer to this blog for additional tips for increasing on-the-job efficiency. Benefits for off-site construction can be found on the Entekra website.

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