Modern Methods of Reducing Waste in The Exterior Contracting World

4/12/2017 Exterior Contractors

Waste can come in many forms. It can be physical detritus, time and energy, unnecessary expenditures, or lost profits. In the world of exterior contracting, it is important to identify potential waste in order to avoid creating it. Let’s examine some areas where waste is created and some possible solutions to curb that waste.

Material Waste

In a recent study conducted by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), they found that approximately 8,000 pounds of waste is typically created from the construction of a 2,000 square foot home. Further, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has estimated that waste from home construction accounts for as much as 40% of the nation’s solid waste. The majority of that waste is in the form of wood, cardboard and drywall, and nearly all of it ends up in landfills.

In the realm of exterior construction, namely roof, siding, and window replacement, the amount of waste generated is obviously less. It is not unsubstantial, though. The EPA estimated that between two and seven million total tons of waste is generated in one year from roof replacement alone.

While these numbers sound dismal, there is hope. The problem of excess construction waste can be alleviated by streamlining the amount of material being ordered and used on construction sites.

Streamlining the use of material

Exterior contractors too often overestimate their need of a particular material. As a result, they order excess to make sure they have enough. They are spending more money on materials than they need to. Additionally, all of the leftover, unused material then becomes waste. Waste that must be disposed of in some way.

How can you, as an exterior contractor, avoid this common pitfall? The simple answer is to make sure you are taking accurate measurements before ordering material. If you know the exact dimensions of a roof, then you can correctly calculate how many shingles to order. If you know the exact square footage of a house, then you can correctly calculate how much siding to order.

Using modern day technology can help you capture and access the right measurements. You can avoid the hassle of climbing on a roof with tape measure in hand. Also, negate the human error involved in walking a house perimeter to gauge measurements. A tool like HOVER provides detailed measurements of the exterior of a home as well as an interactive 3D model. You follow clear, simple instructions to snap a few pictures on your mobile device from the ground. HOVER then transforms the photos to a 3D model showing detailed exterior measurements including roofing, siding, windows, doors, and more. Ordering the right amount of materials based on these renderings is easy, cost-effective, and waste-diminishing.

Intangible Waste

The other form of waste most often associated with exterior home construction is intangible. It is the loss or misuse of human time and energy which can lead to a loss of profit. This waste can be found in interactions with a homeowner and also with your production team. The common culprit that leads to this waste is miscommunication.

Avoiding miscommunication with a homeowner

Waste is often created from dealing with homeowners when there is not a clear plan for the construction project. If a homeowner is unsatisfied, the result is not only a waste of material but also a waste of time and money on your part.

As a contractor you can reduce the risk of generating intangible waste by working with a homeowner to identify and delineate expectations. You should find out exactly what the homeowner wants in terms of their renovation. Based on their wants, you can then create a plan for the construction project. This plan should include which materials will be used, a timeline for completion, and estimated costs.

It is also useful to employ modern technologies to help you with your client interactions in the planning stage. Platforms like HOVER offer design features that allow a homeowner to see how different roofing, siding, windows, trims and much more look on their home. Different materials can be changed within seconds on an interactive 3D model, giving homeowners the ability to better visualize their project. Decisions based on these interactions are more likely to be final, thus eliminating changes in the middle of the project.

Avoiding miscommunication with your team

Waste is created by your installers and production team for a number of reasons. For example, the work may not be what the team expected. If that is the case, the team may have arrived with the wrong tools, materials, equipment, or even workers for the job. Other reasons may include delays or re-orders of materials or workers needlessly traveling back and forth to a job site.

All of these problems can be alleviated with solid communication, organization, and accountability. As a contractor you should be making an effort to ensure that your team is on the same page as you throughout every stage of the project. This could mean weekly, daily, or even hourly updates.

Consider using an easily accessible platform that allows you to better communicate with your team by sharing jobsite information with your production crews. That way, they understand the scope of work and can better schedule the number of people and materials needed to complete the job. HOVER, for example, allows any of your team members to access project details at anytime from anywhere. Therefore, everyone understands their role and no time, energy, or money is wasted.

Benefits of waste reduction

Reducing the amount of waste created by exterior contracting work has benefits for all parties involved. More profit for you, the contractor, less expense for the homeowner, and efficient use of time for your team. Beyond that, there are benefits to the environment as well. Less waste will be dumped in landfills, less electricity will be generated, and less gasoline will be used. Remember even small changes in your business practice can have far-reaching effects.

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