Today’s Building Industry
The building industry has undergone many changes in the past few years. There are pressures on today’s industry that were not even serious factors in the past. First, competition is becoming more intense. It is driving prices lower and lower, and, as always, you usually get what you pay for. Then, as competition squeezes margins tighter some builders will look for ways to cut corners, whether with materials or quality of workmanship. Schedules are much tighter than they used to be.
Competition, demand, and financial obligations are driving builders to close projects in shorter periods of time. This can lead to hasty construction with less builder oversight. Labor issues have changed dramatically in the past few years. Today’s labor force tends to be more mobile and transient and often has less apprenticed, formal training. Some workers are trained on site. If a builder has trouble making a payroll, workers can move on to another job, creating labor shortages that can in turn affect deadlines and quality.
Even good builders have to make projections and deal with bad weather, which can have an ever-growing ripple effect on the whole project. For example, a week of rain can throw off projections, which throws off closings, which throws off the builder getting paid. If the builder is leveraged too much, and many are tightly leveraged, how does that builder make payroll and retain quality workers?
Many construction tasks such as plumbing and electrical work are subcontracted out to the lowest bidder. Again, you get what you pay for. The builder has to depend on the subcontractors, some of whom may be less than reputable. A busy builder/contractor will have a difficult time monitoring all phases of the construction when much of it is subcontracted out.
A professional inspector can provide the thorough observation and oversight projects of this complexity and the homebuyers deserve. Sometime contractors will knowingly ignore problems with the view that it’s cheaper to come back and fix a problem than to do it right in the first place. This then leads to another reason why an independent inspection is important during construction: the issue of homeowner recourse.