Changing the Commercial Construction Narrative

By August 4, 2020 Stories

A Built Blog, by Russ Branden

For those of us in the commercial construction industry, it’s no secret that we’ve seen change over the past decade or two.

A lot of change.

One specific change we’re all experiencing is a drastic decrease in skilled labor, coupled with an increase in material costs and overall project costs.

This has led many leaders in our industry to look for innovative solutions.

As parents of Gen-X’ers and Millennials sent their children off to college and prided themselves on this set of widespread college graduates, the construction industry began to see its first steep decline in skilled labor.

The emphasis on the skilled trades 10-15 years ago, is the bill that’s coming due today.

High school seniors set their eyes on corner offices and have been told college is the best path (and for many, of course, it is), but houses and businesses still needed to be built, pipes plumbed, and electricity wired.

And when reflecting about the biggest challenge in the construction industry today, there’s no doubt, it’s skilled labor shortage.

So much so that the largest General Contracting firms are now working with local high schools to see what students might be a good fit for apprenticeship programs for skilled labor.

A trend we’re all seeing, and one many are stepping into the gaps to help solve.

But as long as it took to get us here, it’s not a ship that can be righted in the short-term.

And even if we had a huge rush of high school juniors and seniors entering the industry, we’re still looking at a minimum of a five-year training curve. We’d still be years and years away from meeting current and projected construction demand.

A sobering reality, but a reality nonetheless.

It’s not just labor shortage, either. Compressed schedules are driving up costs. Increased client involvement and expectation are making processes more complex.

Because in a culture that can order any necessity, toy or gadget we desire as we’re walking to the car and have it arrive on our doorstep one to two days later, we want our office the way we want it, and we want it now.

Our team at Built can’t deliver an office as quickly as I can get a new fly rod from Amazon, but in terms of the construction industry, it’s pretty close.

From concept to completion, some of our major installations have taken as little as three months.

Under the promised timeline.

And on budget.

It’s so different from the widely accepted way of doing things, that many don’t even believe us when we tell them how little time it will take and that we’ll remain on budget throughout the process.

There’s a built in BS detector in our industry, but it’s been fun to break down those barriers with our results.

Prefab construction pushes the boundaries and can take time to adopt, I get that. But the story is changing.

But for so long, so many people have only done it one way – and typically that is accompanied by being slow, over budget, and an overall frustrating experience for all involved.

But we’re changing that narrative.

We’re ready for a new story, with new skilled labor, and new expectations.

We’re ready for a simplified building process, one that creates innovative, inspiring, and BS-free spaces.


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