Material shortages, such as the Gib breakup, are just one contributing factor putting tradespeople under more pressure than ever before, according to the industry.
“A lot of guys feel a lot of pressure to deliver great results for clients through long hours, hard physical work, changing expectations and lots of unknowns,” says Jeremy Gray of Builderscrack.co.nz.
He says the mental health issues simmering beneath the surface, especially among young men in the trades, aren’t talked about enough. “99% of the operators are such down to earth and hardworking guys. Our young men in the trades are much more vulnerable and sensitive than the ‘trademark’ projects.”
Shane Brealey, managing director of Simplicity Living, a developer funded by KiwiSaver’s default company, Simplicity, said 93 builders and developers have gone into receivership this year, and he predicts huge numbers will follow: “We will see more liquidations than ever before – more than in 2008. And there are three main reasons – Gib shortages, escalating costs and a declining market.
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Gray adds, “We are actively telling our trades people to book as much work as possible in the future and to keep their work pipelines as full as possible.”
Owner and chairman of Master Builders NZ Rental Homes Taranaki Branch Campbell Mattson, who has long been an advocate for mental health support within the industry, says material shortages could be “financially catastrophic” for builders.
Mattson says some industry sectors with projects postponed due to shortages are likely to go from very busy to stalled, to having no work for the next few months. “If they don’t right size their business and reduce their volumes to match their volumes, they will be in big trouble.
He said he heard anecdotally about an increase in mental health issues among the trades. The industry was already reporting one suicide per week in 2019 – figures of Companions in construction show that 99% of them are men.
“It’s a very real problem and a challenge for the industry,” Mattson says. “A lot of people in the business ownership and management industry are totally burnt out and demoralized.”
Mattson says customers, construction contractors and supply chain players need to work together in good faith and good grace, even when the going gets tough.
“We must look out for everyone’s interests and not get into conflicting situations. It really helps that people take the time to understand the reality of contractors in the construction world. When they are treated with more empathy and understanding, they will function better.
“And it also works the other way around. Construction contractors should strive to communicate with customers early and accurately, so they know what’s going on, even if it’s not favorable news. »
Relieve the pressure
Gray says there are ways customers can help ease the pressure on their tradespeople.
“It helps if they understand that trades people are under the pump. They put very real pressure on themselves to maintain their reputation while trying to deal with things beyond their control. Currently, their ability to meet customer expectations is being tested by material shortages, material price increases, and a shortage of skilled labor.
Gray says a little understanding goes a long way. Likewise, being flexible and welcoming their availability is valuable.
He says there are always peaks and valleys between big projects, and chances are a craftsman could be working on your little project sooner rather than later. For larger projects such as a patio or house extension, although availability is improving, it may still take a month or two for the work to be completed.
“It’s the year of alternative materials, so expect to compromise. Although it can be frustrating not to get your first preference, a good craftsman will be able to suggest suitable alternative materials for your project.
As material prices rise, Gray says quotes may be valid for just seven days, instead of 30 days. “This takes into account the regular fluctuations in material costs from commercial suppliers.
“If you’re on a budget, ask your dealer what kind of quality or finish you can expect from these materials within your budget. Often we say we want to spend as little as possible for the best outcome, but that often means compromising on quality.
He says tradespeople may take longer to respond to emails and phone calls, due to the workload, but customers shouldn’t assume that the job doesn’t interest them.
« Devis précis prend du temps. If your work stalls at the quote stage, it could be due to insufficient information on your behalf, a lack of time on behalf of the trade or, and perhaps most importantly, a lack of communication around your intentions pour le travail.
“Traders are also stressed. In the end, most do their best to show up in life and do the work they are truly passionate about. Running a business, managing a team, and balancing home or family life is a hard-earned skill, and sometimes all we need is a reminder that we’re all just human.
Where to get help
- 1737, Need to talk? Call for free or text 1737 to speak to a qualified adviser.
- Depression.org.nz 0800 111 757 or SMS 4202
- Children’s line 0800 54 37 54 for people up to 18 years old. Open 24/7.
- safety rope 0800 543 354
- 09 623 4812, Click here to access its free resource and information service.
- Rural Support Trust 0800 787 254
- Samaritans 0800 726 666
- Help line in the event of a suicidal crisis
- yellow brick road 0800 732 825
- thelowdown.co.nz Web chat, email chat or free text 5626
- What’s new 0800 942 8787 (for 5 to 18 year olds). Telephone counseling available Monday through Friday, 12 p.m. to 11 p.m. and weekends, 3 p.m. to 11 p.m. Online chat is available every day from 3 p.m. to 10 p.m.
- Youth Line 0800 376 633, free text 234, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or find online chat and other support options here.
- If it is an emergency, Click here To find the number of your local crisis assessment team.
- In case of life danger, call 111.