The Only Way for Builders to Truly Meet Housing Demand?

Originally published by the following source: SBC MagazineJuly 9, 2018
by TJ Jerke and Sean Shields

  

The need for skilled labor is at a critical juncture for builders as they continue to try and catch up with the demand for housing.

One of the largest factors they continue to struggle with is the cost and availability of labor. This spring, the number of unfilled construction jobs rose, coming close to post-Great Recession levels. 

As a result, builders and many other trades, are trying to keep up with the housing demand looking to new, or different, ways to address this pain point.

A recent article in Builder Magazine argues builders have three choices they can pick from to help their labor capacity constraints. Unfortunately, it’s missing a fourth option that is even easier and more viable to implement right now: structural components. Builders should be working more closely with component manufacturers to not only componentize a house from top to bottom, using roof trusses, floor trusses and wall panels, but also coordinate with them earlier in the process to design the components for mechanical, electrical and plumbing (MEP) lines prior to the manufacturing process. 

As builders continue to find out, building a house with all structural components is making it easier, and faster to frame a house. Moving to a fully componentized house can allow a builder to use fewer employees on one job, providing the opportunity to spread them out across more jobs that you would not otherwise get done. A crew can frame two and a half homes with structural components in the time it takes to stick frame one house. Components also require 25 percent less material and generate 30 times less waste compared to conventional stick framing.

Pre-drilling and prepping components diminishes the time it takes a subcontractor to place their products, allowing for them to finish faster and providing the builder with less interruption time by the subcontractor. 

This fourth option is one CMs should be taking to their existing, and new, customers every day. Using components saves a builder time and, often, money.