Texas, Labor, and Engineering

Almost a year ago, the Austin monitor published this article discussing the trend in rising labor costs here in Austin. One year later – things haven’t changed much. With the recent storms affecting the gulf coast, a dwindling labor market has continued to decline in population as laborers move towards the coast.

A declining labor force drives up labor costs – which directly increases the price of construction. However, some companies are dealing with the issue in creative ways that don’t always increase the bill. The primary strategy is working with new materials – here’s a few examples:

  1. Cold-formed steel: CFS can cost more per sf when looking strictly at the price of material, so it may appear to be a counter-intuitive strategy to reduce the cost of a project. However, the discounts on precon insurance from LEED reductions (which vary by city, but Austin is a big supporter) as well as life-cycle insurance (less prone to fires, rot, settling, etc.) end up saving projects money in the long-run. Additionally, pre-panelized systems can decrease the cost of labor by reducing the time needed to frame a building.
  2. Panelized cladding: You’ve possibly seen the shift away from the dominance of Tyvek-like vapor barriers for panelized systems like Zip Board or Hunter Panels. These systems can reduce labor costs by combining vapor barriers and sheathing to a single system, requiring half the labor versus installing two separate systems.
  3. Pre-engineered flooring systems: Systems like Cemdek provide a single-application structural decking system which replaces the need for joists and decking by combining the two into a single system. This only requires ‘shoring and pouring’ – no joists need to be installed before the deck is installed!

At AMO, we take these things into consideration. We offer designs with your budget in-mind and help find ways to save you money, whether it be through insurance reductions, material selections, or building strategies!

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