Skilled Laborers Play a Large Role in CRE Construction and Demolition
Fifteen percent of builders had to turn projects down because they lacked the manpower to complete the job

Skilled workers are proving difficult for construction companies to find, which could have a number of significant effects on the commercial building management sector.

A recent survey by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) found that 46 percent of contractors were struggling to complete projects on time. Property managers that are considering major renovation problems could face longer timelines that may influence tenant relationships and increase construction costs.

“The survey of our members shows that since June of 2012, residential construction firms are reporting an increasing number of shortages in all aspects of the industry – from carpenters, excavators, framers, roofers and plumbers, to bricklayers, HVAC, building maintenance managers and weatherization workers. The same holds true for subcontractors,” said NAHB chief economist David Crowe.

The survey found that 15 percent of builders had to turn projects down because they lacked the manpower to complete the job. Fewer companies capable of working on large-scale projects means additional oversight on repairs is needed. Building managers need to ensure that any subcontractor they hire will have sufficient resources to finish assignments to specifications. Mobile phones are helping companies to track progress of major projects by allowing subcontractors or workers to take photos and video of completed work. This creates step-by-step documentation that can be used to monitor performance and ensure construction meets all legal regulations.

Managing work teams effectively
The shortages of skilled laborers could make it difficult to maintain buildings using external resources. However, the shortage will likely also affect maintenance crews. Many of the workers laid off during the housing crisis found work with building management companies as maintenance workers. As demand for carpenters, roofers and plumbers increases, many may decide to seek better pay within the construction industry, leaving building managers shorthanded.

Property managers need reliable ways to improve staff production if they hope to successfully deal with labor shortages. Fortunately, new technology is helping companies to oversee their workers more effectively. ComputerWorld reported that bring-your-own-device (BYOD) programs have been successful at delivering additional hours of productivity at several major companies. Intel recently announced that its BYOD program saved employees 57 minutes each workday through improved communication and access to essential information. These same business strategies can help building operators increase the efficiency of maintenance staff.

Building management software can help commercial management firms maximize the benefits of their BYOD practices. All vital information is collected in a single portal, making it easier to view and manage. Because employees are using the same software program, there is less confusion about expenses or assignments, which could further increase productivity.