Update: Lumber & Labor Costs For Builders

  • November 11, 2022
  • 3 min read

In today’s discussion, we delve into two critical aspects shaping the construction industry landscape – the labor force and the costs associated with materials. As the industry grapples with evolving dynamics, a closer look at these factors provides valuable insights for builders, contractors, and enthusiasts alike.

Labor Realities in Construction

A few weeks ago, we touched on the challenges of labor costs in the construction industry. A viewer raised an interesting point in a comment, questioning whether builders struggle to find affordable labor. The implication was that perhaps some builders attempt to underpay workers. In our experience, however, it’s quite the opposite.

Finding Entry-Level Workers

Entry-level construction workers, often referred to as day laborers, are readily available. While these workers may be easy to find, the challenge lies in their reliability. Despite paying competitive rates ranging from $35 to $50 per hour, some workers show inconsistency by disappearing after a few days of work.

Seeking Higher-Skilled Labor

The greater challenge for builders is finding higher-skilled labor. Those individuals who can perform tasks beyond basic labor, such as detailed framing or interpreting construction plans, are in high demand. Offering higher wages, reaching up to $100 per hour, doesn’t always guarantee finding skilled workers willing to take on the tasks.

Investing in Training

Builders often invest in training to elevate workers to higher skill levels, but the transition isn’t always successful. Despite the promise of higher wages, some workers struggle to reach the expected skill level.

Material Costs: A User’s Perspective

Turning our attention to material costs, a user’s report from a visit to Home Depot sheds light on the changing landscape. The user loaded up on various materials, including tube 10, 2x4s, and sheet stock, spending around $800 for a truckload. While this price may seem reasonable, the user faced challenges in obtaining assistance from employees at the big-box store.

Issues with Big-Box Store Assistance

The report and subsequent comments highlighted difficulties in getting help or service at big-box stores. This aligns with a common sentiment among construction professionals who prefer local lumber yards or pro distributors for better service and support.

Lumber Prices and Quality Concerns

Lumber prices have experienced fluctuations, offering some relief compared to the highs of a year and a half ago. However, quality concerns have emerged, with reports indicating more knots, cutouts, and reduced clear span materials. This decline in quality can pose challenges during inspection and permit processes.

Share Your Experiences

If you’re involved in the construction industry, we invite you to share your experiences in the comments. Do the labor challenges resonate with your own struggles? Have you observed changes in material costs and quality in your area? The collective insights from professionals in the field contribute to a better understanding of the challenges and opportunities in today’s construction landscape.

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