5 Reasons Builders Should Invest in Education

5 Reasons Builders Should Invest in Education
July 28, 2021

Canada is economically based on the idea that without education and training, we cannot compete globally. So how does that impact residential construction?

Old-school thinking used to be that construction projects are bid out to the lowest bidder or the fastest contractors instead of selecting the most knowledgeable team. But today, the industry is undergoing a monumental shift.

The BC Step Code, designed to help builders make future homes more energy-efficient and comfortable, is rapidly escalating prices on materials and a more knowledgeable clientele. Residential construction is no longer about “who can do it the cheapest” and more about “who can build it the best.” If builders aren’t keeping up with the rapidly changing environment, they risk being left behind.

Education is the key to long-term success as a building professional. However, many people don’t take the time to see the benefits.  The truth is that investing in education allows builders, renovators, and designers the opportunities to earn more money, gain more recognition, and create a more competitive and resilient business. By investing in quality education for your business, you can solve problems and perform better at work because of it.

Here are some reasons why builders should invest in education:

1. Stay Up to Date

The residential construction industry is changing so fast. If you are not keeping up with education, you can quickly become a dinosaur. Building standards mainly were the same in the past, but things have rapidly changed in the last 10 to 15 years. You can get in trouble if you don’t keep up.

Mike Chatham, the V.P. of Chatham Homes and an education advocate, explained that it is essential to use your local educators to stay informed because minor code changes that you don’t realize can affect the whole house. His example was that years ago, he used tape and vapour barrier for insulation, and then it changed to having to use an acoustic seal. If you want to compete with the other builders, it is crucial to know about the new techniques and materials.

2. Higher Profitability.  

Buying a new home is a significant investment for homebuyers. Knowing their builder is educated will provide them with a sense of reassurance. Items like the Step Code encourage a lot more planning and communication on the front end but ultimately can lead to efficiencies and savings as the project comes to life.

Mike Chatham thinks some builders are lacking education on the proper techniques for airtightness. “People aren’t paying the extra hundred dollars to get it tested at mid-construction. Instead, they test their airtightness at the end and fail the test. It’s harder to find the leak because the drywall and flooring have already been installed. It’s ultimately the clients who suffer because the city won’t sign off on final occupancy and can’t move into their house. It could then turn into a legal battle and cost thousands to get fixed.”

5 Reasons Builders Should Invest in Education

Factor in consumer preferences regarding climate change, and you can see that homebuyers will likely prefer paying more in exchange for peace of mind and a quality product. The 2020 Canadian Homebuyer Preference Study found that 55.2 percent of homebuyers are willing to spend up to $5,000 more on energy-efficient features in their next home.

It also opens up new markets for you, as you could potentially find work in neighbouring regions or maximize your marketing efforts based on your newfound knowledge. Ultimately, builders who invest in education will likely earn more revenue and create a more successful company.

3. Learn Essential Business Skills. 

Of course, education isn’t just about construction knowledge. Various positions in the residential construction industry are hands-on, but that doesn’t mean investing in education would waste time or money.  “You don’t know what you don’t know.” Stepping out of your comfort zone to learn something new can simplify or deepen your understanding of a specific topic.

Beyond education within your field, you should also look at training opportunities in accounting, marketing, human resources, and business strategy. All of these courses can help power your business to new heights.

The old-school way of growing in the industry was through making connections and learning from experienced tradespeople. But the residential construction industry is getting more serious with things such as contracts and accounting. Builders should make sure they are teaching their apprentices and employees proper techniques.

Investing in education as a builder will deepen your appreciation of other types of work in the industry and develop new organization, management styles, communication, and strategic thinking.  Investing in that education for your team will help you realize those benefits exponentially.

5 Reasons Builders Should Invest in Education

4. Build Better.

Learning keeps your mind sharp and teaches you essential and up-to-date skills. It’s simple. Education offsets the cost of poor planning and errors. Always keep in mind that your time is your money. No matter if you are a beginner or an experienced tradesperson, always remember that knowledge is power. Knowledge gives you control that can be used to build things faster, better and more efficiently.

“There’s new estimating, job costing, building envelope and sketch-up programs I am learning.” Chuck Cullen from Team Construction Management Ltd. has been working in the industry for over 40 years and volunteers with the ITA BC to help get mandatory trades training.

The residential construction industry is fast-growing and constantly changing. There are new technologies, regulations, and trends that builders need to stay on top of. By investing in education, builders can better meet their customers’ needs.

Governments are setting environmentally friendly standards for new buildings in the past few years, such as Step Code in B.C. Builders and contractors in the Okanagan have had to educate themselves on what the new regulations are. They have also had to learn how to work with sustainable materials and installations.

5 Reasons Builders Should Invest in Education

5. Attract More Customers and Jobs. 

In general, having a more knowledgeable team gives companies and their employees a competitive edge by providing greater value to customers. Showing potential customers that you are educated in new technologies and trends will increase your marketability.

For example, in B.C., general contractors have to complete a minimum of 20 Continuing Professional Development (CPD) points to keep their license in good standing. Builders that stay on top of their licensing make sure to get their CPD points well before they expire to keep a good reputation.

Never stop learning. There is always an opportunity to learn something.”

– Chuck Cullen, Team Construction Management Ltd.

Interested in furthering your education in the residential construction industry?

Register for courses that have been written by builders and leading industry professionals to meet the national education benchmarks here.