Not-for-Profit, Award-Winning Community News and Views for Windham County, Vermont • Since 2006
Voices / Viewpoint

Why are good builders hard to find?

Wanted: carpenters who are current with new processes, products, and technologies

Guy Payne is the executive director of the Sustainable Energy Outreach Network (SEON), a nonprofit organization that advances sustainable energy and high-performance building. SEON’s annual Sustainable Home Tour (www.seon.info/hometour/), which takes place on Saturday, Oct. 14, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., will feature homes in Brattleboro and Dummerston, as well as Greenfield, Mass.

Brattleboro

Who will do the work and do it well?

“I have hired an architect who can create plans and construction details for what I want to execute,” says one homeowner, who is trying to remediate ice dams on his roof. “What I have not been able to find is a builder who understands these issues and presents realistic solutions.”

It’s raising eyebrows around the country because this homeowner touches on an issue that is both prevalent and part of a larger issue.

We need to ask, “Why are good builders hard to find, especially those with an understanding of building science and the dynamics of heat and moisture flow?”

In Vermont and northern New England, our housing stock is varied, with a large percentage being old, leaky, and damp. So where do we go to find knowledgeable, creative, and competent builders who commit themselves to staying current with new processes, products, and technologies?

This is no longer a profession that equates building a shed with building a house. Beyond the math and building science requirements, builders now must think in terms of systems, and access and digest research findings, charts, and reports.

How then do we increase the supply of “next generation” builders?

* * *

The construction industry is integral to achieving our statewide energy goal of 90-percent fossil-fuel-free by year 2050 — Vermont’s comprehensive response to climate change.

Interestingly, the McClure Foundation in Vermont analyzed labor needs looking out over 10 years and found carpenters to be the second-most-in-demand job, behind nurses!

Yet the current reality of this industry paints a distressing picture. Builders have acknowledged that they cannot find carpenters with the necessary technical skills and are forced to wait far too long to fill open positions, or they settle on applicants with less than the desired skills.

Compound this shortage of labor supply and skills gap with an absence of a comprehensive workforce development system to train entry-level carpenters and assist our incumbent workers to advance their skills, and you have a “perfect storm.”

* * *

The building industry must keep abreast of the climate challenge and economy. As Peter Yost of BuildingGreen, Inc. of Brattleboro said, “We are asking more of our buildings, and we should be asking more of our workers.”

Past efforts have not been sufficient.

It will be up to the building professionals, educators, funders, and state representatives and senators to work collaboratively to develop systems that develop this essential part of the economy.

What do you think? Leave us a comment

Editor’s note: Our terms of service require you to use your real names. We will remove anonymous or pseudonymous comments that come to our attention. We rely on our readers’ personal integrity to stand behind what they say; please do not write anything to someone that you wouldn’t say to his or her face without your needing to wear a ski mask while saying it. Thanks for doing your part to make your responses forceful, thoughtful, provocative, and civil. We also consider your comments for the letters column in the print newspaper.

Add Comment

* Required information
1000
Type the numbers for four hundred seventy-two.
Captcha Image
Powered by Commentics

Comments (12)

Sort By
Topic: Page One
5/5 (2)
1 2 3 > Last
Gravatar
New
Tamara Stenn
Gravatar
1
0
0
Aug 2018
Tamara Stenn (Brattleboro, Vermont, US) says...

Thanks for writing this Elayne. I was thinking the same thing myself. The silence we received from the hospital is quite deafening. Unfortunately we\'ve had to continue working with the hospital as other (minor) heath issues come up.

Gravatar
New
Judith Skillman
Gravatar
1
0
0
Aug 2018
Judith Skillman (Newcastle, US) says...

Excellent and informative writing about the media and about the state of our nation. We must support the press speak truth to power, now more than ever before.

Gravatar
Regular
Ruby Bode
Gravatar
10
0
5
Aug 2018
Top Poster
First Poster
Ruby Bode (Westminster, Vermont, US) says...

We are also obliged to criticize the press when they merely echo the lies of the powerful. In this case, much of the press has taken a side, not just against the policies of the President, but against the election itself on behalf of the parties of war and Wall St. Just as the US has in the past agitated in other countries for coups against democratic outcomes they don’t like, much of the press, including this editorial, is now agitating for a coup here at home.

Gravatar
New
Peter Ford
Gravatar
1
1
0
Aug 2018
Peter Ford (Dallas) says...

Nailed it - Thank you.

Gravatar
New
TB Smith
Gravatar
1
0
1
Aug 2018
TB Smith (Ba, Oklahoma, US) says...

The divisiveness brought on by this shamefully poor excuse for a president has been once again, borne out by this article, and the responses to it .. his most devoted followers are the most gullible and easily swayed sheeple since the \"Kool-Aid party in Jonestown\" ... those who stand up the most fervently to this dictator \"wanabe\", will , inthe end, see him and the fellow purveyors of his garbage rhetoric like FOX News, Alex Jones, Breitbart, etc., crumble and be dumped like stale crackers (pardon the pun) .. we must impeach this tyrant before too much damage is done, either from within or outside our borders.

Gravatar
Regular
Ruby Bode
Gravatar
10
0
5
Aug 2018
Top Poster
First Poster
Ruby Bode (Westminster, Vermont, US) says...

So it’s OK that access to outlets that simply recognize Trump as President is indeed being shut down? But isn’t that exactly what this editorial is against? Should outlets that cheered on Obama’s wars and love of Wall St have likewise been shut down? Only John Birch Society–inspired screeds against Trump indicate the “legitimate” press?

Gravatar
Regular
Ruby Bode
Gravatar
10
0
5
Aug 2018
Top Poster
First Poster
Ruby Bode (Westminster, Vermont, US) says...

TB Smith’s comment in apparent support of the us-vs-them tone of this editorial illustrates why so many people distrust so much of the press (although, again, it appears to be only pro-Trump and anti-imperialist outlets that are actually being shut down): They are promulgating hysterical claims about fascism, Russians, and “crackers” not in the interest of the people, but wholly on behalf of the neoliberal/neoconservative program of Reagan, Clinton, Bush, and Obama to deny Trump the Presidency and even remove him from office – not democratically, but by coup if necessary. That makes the press rather anti-democratic and, indeed, against the people.

Gravatar
New
Amelia Stone
Gravatar
1
0
0
Aug 2018
Amelia Stone (E Dummerston, Vermont, US) says...

Kudos to the Boston Globe for encouraging newspapers across the country to remind us all of the value of a free press, and to the Commons for hearing that call. The NYTimes article, A Free Press Needs You, concludes with the following: \"If you haven’t already, please subscribe to your local papers. Praise them when you think they’ve done a good job and criticize them when you think they could do better. We’re all in this together.\" Today I plan to subscribe.

Page 1 of 3
1 2 3 > Last
 
 

Originally published in The Commons issue #429 (Wednesday, October 11, 2017). This story appeared on page E3.

Related stories

More by Guy Payne