Interested in shaving a few days or weeks off that six-month construction start-to-completion schedule?
According to 2014 data from the U.S. Census Bureau's Survey on Construction, more than half of built-for-sale homes (55%), and 39% of contractor-built homes, take four to six months to build from permit to completion. But that time frame seems to be increasing. In the built-for-sale market alone, the percentage of homes taking three months or less to build has dropped by 14 points since 2012, while the percentage of homes on 7-to-9-month and 10-to-12-month timelines have both doubled.
Longer timelines may be a result of labor shortages throughout the industry. According to BUILDER’s labor survey, which we reported on in February, 55% of home building company executives named labor supply as a pain point for 2015. Builders say they’re having the most trouble finding framers, finish carpenters, and drywallers, and the struggle is greater for larger-volume builders.
“Every single respondent who builds more than 250 homes said that they are having labor problems,” says Toby Morrison, national sales manager for building products manufacturers with BUILDER’s sister company Metrostudy. Metrostudy conducted the labor shortage survey on behalf of Acme Brick, Johns Manville, Lubrizol, and MiTek—Berkshire Hathaway Companies.
Builders know that labor shortages equate to delayed delivery and higher project costs, which in turn translates to lost profitability. Knowing that time is money, we’ve rounded up a selection of products that promise to help speed production. In some cases, the products improve ease of installation, which could help builders that are operating with less-skilled labor than in the past.
Just the Right Fit
When the wall oven and the cabinet cutout don’t quite match up, on-site adjustments can take time. The FIT Flex Install System from Whirlpool helps eliminate this problem. The FIT System debuted on wall ovens, which feature adjustable risers to situate the appliance in the cabinet, and a trim package to frame the unit and hide the risers. The expanding product line now includes range hoods and slide-in ranges. The system can help cut installation time to a third of what traditional installations take. Whirlpool says it will help offset the cost of modifying cabinet cutouts (or countertop cutouts, in the case of a slide-in range) if products in the FIT line don’t work with existing cabinet cutouts. Whirlpool. insideadvantage.com.
Be confident in the water-tightness of your shower installations with the SnapJoint system. A specialized clip on the niche-style shower panels lock securely and create 90-degree corners that most pre-molded showers can’t offer. The plywood-backed wall panels can accept accessories like grab bars, without the time and materials needed to install additional backing. Best Bath Systems. bestbath.com.
Back-Saving Deck Screw
Camo Edge Pro is the latest addition to the brand’s Hidden Deck Fastening System and is the first collated screw system for edge-fastening wood, composite, or PVC deck boards, the maker says. In addition to eliminating issues related to face-fastening, such as splitting and fastener pops, Edge Pro doesn’t require hidden clips, and installs with a collated tool from a standing position. The setup speeds installation and saves the installer’s back. Edge Pro is compatible with any type of deck board, including treated wood, which can be installed with no gap or with secondary spacers to create a required gap size. National Nail. nationalnail.com.
Implement a Buddy System
The Tile Buddy square toilet flange support system gives installers the advantage in new toilet installations and in renovation work. The 1/4-inch-thick polypropylene shim slips over the toilet waste pipe and provides support for the flange bolts. Multiple Tile Buddys can be stacked beneath to equal the depth of surrounding flooring, allowing the flange to sit on top of the Tile Buddy at a height even with the floor. The square design also improves efficiency and ease of installation for surrounding backerboard, tile, or other flooring surface by eliminating the need to cut or nip around a rounded flange. For renovations, the Tile Buddy features pre-scored lines that allow installers to snap the shim in half and slide each half under the existing flange to bring it level with the new flooring. Tile Buddy. tilebuddy.com.
Do Away with Dust
As if construction didn’t involve enough labor on its own, the cleanup afterward is sure to wipe out any crew at the end of a long day. Give drywall crews a little break in the cleanup department with Dust Away drywall compound and Renovation Mud. When sanding the materials, the particles are designed to clump together and fall to the floor, reducing airborne dust and making cleanup easier. CertainTeed. certainteed.com.
Don't Forget to Stretch
Impressive stretching properties make Zip System Stretch Tape easier to install around rough openings and penetrations than standard flashing tape. Rather than snipping and patching to fit corners and wall protrusions, the super-strong tape does the job in one pass by stretching in all directions. Stretch tape adheres to the material being flashed and to itself to seal out moisture. One 75-foot roll can flash more than 20 windows. Though the material is designed to work with the maker’s Zip System, it also can be used with other building materials. Huber Engineered Wood. huberwood.com.
Designed with contractors in mind, High Performance (HP) Technology shingles are oversized, saving as many as 240 shingles on a 40-square job, and 1,440 to 6,240 nails depending on a 4- or 6-nail installation technique. Fewer shingles reduces overall installation time, while fewer nail penetrations saves on materials and reduces the potential for moisture infiltration. Installers will appreciate the 1 1/4-inch nailing area for better accuracy, and Fastac double sealant lines that adhere quickly and form a long-lasting seal. Atlas Roofing. atlasroofing.com.