The Biggest Stressors Facing Construction Business Owners

31
October 2022
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Any business comes with its fair share of stress, but the construction industry, in particular, is rife with added stressors that other industries just don't have to face. From the financial stress of uncertain market conditions and rising material costs to the pressure of hiring an experienced skilled labor force, construction owners face more pressure than ever.

We asked construction pros from across the globe to weigh-in on the biggest stressors facing their businesses today. Here's what they said:

Financial Stressors

Personally, one of my most significant stressors in the construction industry is managing financial forecasting. It can be difficult to accurately predict project expenses and material costs as they constantly change. Additionally, unexpected delays or problems on a job site can cause budgeting issues for the entire project.

Marty Ford, president of Bullet Proof Roof Systems LTD

As interest rates rise, it becomes more expensive to borrow money for construction projects. This can lead to cost overruns and reductions in the number of projects undertaken. Add to that, the price of construction materials can fluctuate dramatically, especially if they are sourced from overseas. This can cause budget overruns and schedule delays.

Stacy Elmore, Co-founder at The Luxury Pergola

Pricing has always been an issue in the renovation business, but is even more so now as the pricing keeps going up for things on a monthly basis it seems. Despite the usual challenges of not quite being sure what you might uncover when you start taking apart a place, and how much it will cost beyond what you are expecting, there is now the added pressure of how much more the initial quote will have risen by the time you get to complete the task. It's an even trickier game of managing expectations with the client of "expect the unexpected". My paint business is a lot less stress in this department since nothing really changes shape as we work, and we mostly know what surprises we may encounter as we progress through projects.

Tila Lee, paint and design pro at Go Pretty in Paint

Wasting time trying to find the best prices and materials for his jobs. You find yourself constantly calling multiple suppliers, repeating the same information, and then having to wait for a quote, comparing quotes.

Luke Fleury, General Contractor and founder at Dibbs Technology

My biggest stressor right now is the economy. When you've got a big team, you've built that team because of an expected workload. But right now, it's hard to predict what will happen next year, next month, or tomorrow. The last thing I want is for the team members who depend on me to struggle.

Jake Romano, General Manager at John the Plumber

Hiring Stressors

Another stressor for me is hiring qualified individuals for my team. With a high demand for skilled labor in the construction industry, finding workers with both the technical skills and dedication needed to complete a job effectively and efficiently can be difficult. Retaining these valuable employees can be challenging even once I have hired them, with other companies offering competitive salaries and benefits.

Marty Ford, president of Bullet Proof Roof Systems LTD

My biggest stressor is hiring new employees for a construction site. It is not easy to find skilled workers who are capable of finishing tasks within a given time frame and budget. Any worker can come in and do the job. However, completing the job within confined limits is a skill that not many have. This is why I must be diligent before hiring a new construction worker. I have to judge them based on their skill set, which can be a time-consuming and hectic process.

Andrew Johnson, CEO at Prime Seamless Gutters & Roofing

Andrew Johnson, CEO at Prime Seamless Gutters & Roofing

Andrew Johnson, CEO at Prime Seamless Gutters & Roofing

Staffing remains perhaps the biggest stressor. Whether it's full-time employees like we hire in my painting business or contractors for renovating, finding reliable people you can trust is a lot more difficult than one might think. In painting we prefer to generally hire people good people and train them to paint. It's easier to hire personality than skill in that department. With the renovation business it's become even more difficult to contract out with the boom that's happened since the pandemic started.

Tila Lee, paint and design pro at Go Pretty in Paint

Change Orders

In the construction industry, one of the main stressors are coordination and change orders. This is particularly tricky as each item related to the build would require countless manhours from placing orders to having it delivered on site. Although it is inevitable for owners to change their minds, it is hard to adjust especially if it concerns a major change. Major changes are often concerning sizes of a room to sudden changes in finishes.

Joe Ferguson, Architectural Joiner at SkirtingsRus

Technology Adoption

The construction industry has been lagging behind other sectors when it comes to the adoption of new technologies. In our hyper-connected world, this is a big disadvantage. New technologies have the potential to greatly improve productivity and lower costs on construction projects, but only if they are properly utilized. The core reason why the construction industry has been slow to adopt new technologies is because of the lack of a skilled workforce. Few construction workers are considered "highly skilled" when it comes to using new technology on the job site, and with the high cost of training, many companies are simply unwilling to invest in their workers. Many firms also have been hesitant to invest in new technology because of the high upfront costs and the lack of a clear return on investment. Construction is a notoriously risky business with many projects going over budget and behind schedule. This has made construction executives very risk-averse when it comes to investing in new, unproven technologies. Finally, construction is a very fragmented industry with thousands of small firms making up the majority of the market. This lack of consolidation makes it difficult to implement new technologies across the board on construction projects. The good news is that there are signs that the construction industry is starting to embrace new technologies more. In recent years, there has been an increase in the number of construction startups that are developing new technologies specifically for the industry.

Neil Platt, Director at Emerald Home Improvements

The construction industry is lagging in technological innovation. Many construction companies find it challenging to invest in or use modern technology. This even makes it difficult to operate the overall business. Embracing modern technology has extra benefits for the industry. Some of them include efficient use of materials, improved health and safety, safer working environments; and more efficient recruitment processes.

Matt Wooldridge, Founder at Invasion Roofing

Seasonality

Seasonality is a concern every year due to the nature of the construction business in most markets. Activity swells in the spring and summer, and falls off severely in the winter. We prepare as much as possible for a long, slow winter, and have ways to keep our crews busy. But that stress over our slow season is always there.

Kyle Shirley, Owner at Sol Vista Roofing

Why Construction Owners Need to Reduce Stress and Burnout

Burnout is one of the most significant stressors in the construction industry, as per my knowledge and analysis. Burnout in this industry is prevalent due to the nature of the job. Employees have to be in the most dangerous spots and may not always feel well-paid. I have tried to balance it out, but some factors still compel people to resign. Their safety concerns and health issues are just another hit to the gut.

Some may also get very insecure about their job as the newer and younger people take over the tasks they used to do. More than 80% of the employees have felt stress and inclination towards suicide because of their mental health issues. There seems to be just no solid solution to overcome this hurdle.

Kim Abrams, CEO at Abrams Roofing

42% of small business owners reported burnout in the past month, according to a small business owner survey conducted in May 2022, and nearly a quarter reported experiencing burnout at that very moment. (Inflation was their major challenge.) For contractors, stress -- and its consequences -- can be even higher. Stress and burnout can have a negative impact on your physical health and behavior, which can add to the already dangerous environment on a construction site. Finding healthy ways to manage stress allows you to lead your team in a safe, effective manner while protecting your own health and wellbeing.

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