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Sustainability Struggles: Measuring the Cost of Energy-Efficient Homes for Contractors

In December 2019, Home Innovation Research Labs published its latest omnibus surveys of home building professionals and consumers. These surveys, which are conducted every two to three months, are hosted online where respondents all across the nation have access to the tools they need to provide valuable feedback. The findings are useful for gleaning insights on a broad range of topics. In the most recent addition, many respondents voiced their frustrations dealing with current energy codes.

In this brief article, the Orlando construction attorneys at Cotney Construction Law will discuss these findings. If your business is having trouble meeting building codes or maintaining legal compliance, consult an Orlando construction attorney for assistance defending yourself against fines, stop-work orders, and disputes.

Contractor Challenges Are the Norm

In the survey, only 15 percent of contractors denied facing any current challenges. They are the lucky few. The majority of contractors are facing a litany of challenges, from labor shortages to unreliable material suppliers to delinquent owners and cash flow issues. Energy codes add another layer of complexity to a contractor’s job, which is evident based on the preponderance of respondents expressing their struggles with this particular topic. For example, building energy efficient homes is an industry-wide shift, but that doesn’t mean the entire industry is equipped with the tools to make a smooth transition. 

Related: 3 Challenges Today’s Construction Contractor Will Face

Building codes seem to change on a daily basis, leading to new logistical challenges for contractors who are being asked to implement materials and technology they have never used before. Needless to say, new energy codes are causing the price of labor and supplies to rise. Training is needed to keep workers on the same page and energy efficient building supplies can cost twice as much as their less efficient alternatives. With 85 percent of respondents noting some form of challenge related to energy-efficient construction, contractor challenges are the norm, not the exception, which can create friction in an industry experiencing a rapid evolution.

Related: Increasing Construction Efficiency

The Problems Contractors Face

As we’ve already established, the majority of contractors are facing struggles related to the construction of energy efficient homes. These issues can be summarized in the following way:

 

  • Increased costs. Although the government wants to tell you how to build, they definitely don’t want to help you pay for it. Figuring out how to stay profitable while changing the very way your business operates is a tremendous (and costly) challenge.
  • Lack of qualified subcontractors. Too few subcontractors have the experience necessary to satisfy new energy codes. Some contractors have had to take it upon themselves to train these professionals and get them up to speed.
  • Limited training. An overhaul of your existing building practices is no small feat. Where do you start? Solar panels? Insulation? Windows? Which training areas have the greatest return on investment? These aren’t questions the average contractor is prepared to answer; rather, they’re questions an environmental engineer should be responding to. But environmental engineers don’t typically train construction professionals.
  • Negligible supplier support. Currently, many suppliers simply do not have the materials or equipment contractors need to meet today’s energy codes. Growing waiting lists are leading to costly delays. Unfortunately, contractors who can’t afford to wait also can’t afford to violate energy codes.

 

If you would like to speak with one of our Orlando construction attorneys, please contact us today.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.