Canadian Contractor


Rudy the Carpenter and John Bleasby argue productivity in our industry

As an industry, we have improved our product exponentially, says Rudy the carpenter

Comment from Rudy The Carpenter below, refers to John Bleasby‘s article on productivity (and NZE homes) last week. John quoted from studies that showed the construction industry has dragged behind other industries in productivity improvements, for several decades.

I appreciate your article, John, and your continued reporting and commentary. Thanks for keeping us thinking.

I believe the chart/study is somewhat misleading. What it doesn’t take into account is that while in manufacturing the labour efficiency has improved by 3.6 per cent, they are essentially building the same widget. In construction, our efficiency has gone up by 1.0 per cent, but we have improved our product exponentially. I would say, “Well done, guys!”

Not to mention we also didn’t need thousands and thousands of dollars in engineering, computer and technology fees to achieve this efficiently. Therefore, not only have we become more efficient in our industry, but also better value.

Finally, please note that the actual time/cost of labour to build a home has not increased significantly in 20 years either. Even though the product is much better.  Of course, red tape/government/taxes/land fees have certainly increased the final cost of the house.

Here is John Bleasby‘s reply…

Thanks Rudy, and I will be going into more detail about productivity gains (or not) in construction in an upcoming post.

Just anecdotally though, as I drive around my area I see new homes under construction ranging from $279,000 to over $1 million. In almost every case, these new homes are built the same way: a poured concrete foundation wall, stick construction, OSB sheeting, housewrap, then siding… and nothing to deal with thermal bridging. In other words, they are the same as houses built 20+ years ago. They require the same number of crew, they are built with the same methodology. Exponentially improved? I beg to differ. We can agree to disagree on a case-by-case examination, of course.

I will also admit that manufacturing autos is not the same as building a house. However you will have a hard time convincing me that the advances in construction techniques now available are being accepted by most builders, unless of course building codes force them. Canadian Contractor will of course highlight and celebrate those builders who are embracing the new materials and processes which can positively impact productivity and meet the other challenges I outline briefly in my post. Overall though, there is much more than can be done by the majority.


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1 Comment » for Rudy the Carpenter and John Bleasby argue productivity in our industry
  1. Ken says:

    Any chance you could summarize your grounding in the construction industry briefly?
    Your articles are “interesting” but I’m just curious about any relavant experience you have.
    Are you a writer,a GC, estimator,trade,architect ?
    Just interested in how you come by your perspective on your topics.


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