Estimating and Preconstruction

Top 3 Preconstruction Problems 2022

By January 27, 2022 No Comments

Before the world turned upside down, we traveled coast to coast to host peer discussions on the preconstruction challenges general contractors and even some subs were facing. The major problems precon was facing then were owner demands/budget, lack of standardization, and the talent gap between junior and senior preconstruction employees.

Fast forward two years and are these challenges still the same?

The short answer is yes, these are still very much the main problems in precon today. However, unfortunately, they have been put on the backburner as a result of the uncertainties from COVID. What are the major preconstruction problems today?

  • Labor shortages
  • Material availability
  • Overall uncertainty of the market

These issues caused by the pandemic are at the forefront of precon leaders’ minds. There is no longer time to spend training up new people or immersing themselves in the design process.

stack of lumber

Lumber volatility is at a 75-year high.

Material Availability

We talked to one of our clients, Jan Beran with Beckenhauer, who explained what makes up the majority of his time and how he’s been unable to address those three constant problems. “It’s the internal downstream clients, the project managers, and superintendents who are having to deal with the scheduling nightmares of the uncertainty of material availability. We had to purchase a roof a year in advance for a project that hasn’t even been built. When you’re having to solve everyone else’s problems, yours’ get pushed to the side.”

Buying the roof early is not the problem, the time it takes to secure that roof early is the problem.

Click here to learn how industry experts are overcoming fluctuating material costs.

Labor Shortages

Since 2021, waves of people quitting their jobs due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic have been known as The Great Resignation. Not only have people quit but it’s forced employees to re-think where, when, and how they work. Examples include completely changing industries, working remotely, or just quitting altogether. How has this affected precon? You know that talent gap between junior and senior estimators that was a problem before? Well, it’s even bigger now. Senior estimators are retiring and it is now harder than ever to find junior estimators that want to work and learn from them. OnePoll surveyed 2,000 Americans and 34% of respondents report quitting their job in the last two years. Nearly half of those are Gen Z. Gen Z would be those junior estimators that want to make a name for themselves in the industry and learn from the well-seasoned senior estimators that have the experience.

Paige Davis at HITT Contracting says despite multiple recruiters, their HR team, and posting positions on third-party sites they still only receive a few resumes a week. And those resumes don’t have the quality HITT is used to seeing. Their team has led the charge for getting the younger generation the industry experience they need to succeed. HITT’s Futures Internship program ranks number one for the Best Construction Internships in 2022. Getting someone started in the Futures program has resulted in HITT seeing a 70% retention rate since its inception. Paige knows “it takes a long time for that seasoning, we plant seeds as early as high school by offering externships.”

Click here to download your free guide to attracting talent in precon.

The labor shortages aren’t only on the field, they are on your own precon teams internally. Companies have to be creative in attracting and keeping talent. There is more work than ever and not enough people to do it.

Overall Uncertainty of the Market

We live in uncertain times. On the positive side, we know we can survive a government shutdown but it will have lasting effects on the industry. It can feel like government regulations change daily, so how can construction realistically predict what projects will start construction next year? Preconstruction teams and entire project teams have learned how to be flexible and adapt to the unknown. But again, handling those changes take time…time that is no longer spent on the design process.

Chances are the problems that have always been there will continue to cause pain for the industry. When will we have enough time for precon teams can go back to addressing these? Leave your thoughts in the comments.

 

To read our recap of preconstruction challenges from our peer discussion events in 2019, click here to go to our community.

 

 

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