Friday, October 25, 2013

Building With Next Gen: Attracting and Retaining Gen X/Gen Y Employees

By Juli Bacon

If you are used to working with your hands and using tools for your craft, you may wonder how you are going to teach the younger generation the tricks of the home-building trade. If you are in a supporting business in the construction industry, you may have also found yourself frustrated by the new generation’s constant reliance on technology. You watch them texting on their phones, checking their Facebook page, playing on their iPads and watching television all at the same time. Electronic gadgets are their tools.

Rather than think of this as a problem, think of it as an opportunity. Generation X (Gen Xers) and Generation Y (Millennials) are your new workforce. Learning to work with their unique style and tapping into their specific skills just may give you the edge on your competition as labor shortages become the norm in the construction industry.

Looking back through the generations, I imagine that we would hear some common phrases used in one form or another such as: “kids today….”, “I don’t know how this company will survive with the next generation”, “This new generation doesn’t know what work is!” The cold hard truth for current and future business owners; however, is that if you do not learn how to work with each “new” generation, your company will not survive. The construction industry can ill afford to miss an opportunity for new labor. Those who take the time to listen and learn from the Gen Xers and Millennials will have an advantage when the labor shortage is hitting their competition. If you, as an employer, take the time to learn what drives them rather than making assumptions about their work ethics based on their seeming desire for “wasting time” on Facebook and other technology, you will increase your chances of attracting and retaining employees.

Understanding some basic background, characteristics and traits of each generation is the first step in attracting and retaining the Gen Xers and Millennials. Of course, employers need to look at the individual and avoid stereotyping, as each person’s upbringing and unique experiences shape the way he or she lives and works.

Gen X: No Hand-Holding Needed
Gen Xers, typically born between 1965 and 1977 (some say up to 1980), are the children of Baby Boomers, a generation that believes in working hard, paying your dues, and working your way to the top with or without an education. Some Baby Boomers became teenagers in the 1960s and created their own upheaval in America with their “wild” ways. However, they were mellowed by double-digit unemployment, starting families and new responsibilities.

Gen Xers’ parents typically lived to work and were defined by their work. They were dedicated to their jobs and loyal to their employers. Gen Xers were the first children to grow up with two working parents. The first latchkey kids, they came home from school to empty houses. They had to learn to be self-reliant; they did their homework without help, took care of their younger sibling(s) and cooked for themselves. They saw their parents divorce, often more than once. Their parents’ loyalty to their employers crumbled with corporate scandals that depleted their retirement accounts.

Gen Xers were shaped by myriad events that occurred while they were growing up; from the assassination of Robert Kennedy to the fall of the Berlin Wall; from the beginning of the AIDS crisis to the savings and loan crisis; from the Vietnam War to the Persian Gulf War. They saw the rise of the computer age. They remember rotary telephones, eight-track and cassette tapes and DOS-based computer systems.

Generation X Characteristics and Traits
  • Self-reliance, resourcefulness and working independently
  • Adaptable to change
  • Little patience for meetings without purpose
  • Comfortable with technology
  • Desire for a challenging workplace with accountability
  • Emphasis placed on the quality of the work and accomplishing the work rather than the number of hours worked
  • High value on family and personal time and working to live rather than living to work. Seek companies with work/life benefits.
  • More likely to ask for flexible schedules to meet family needs or ask to work from home
Employers can attract and retain Gen Xers by:
  1. Creating a work/ life balance in their workplaces. Employers need to set aside the idea that if they don’t see the employee, they aren’t working. Gen Xers have strong work ethics, but will not sacrifice their family life for it. They like the ability to work from home if needed.
  2. Challenge them with interesting projects, make sure they understand the deliverables, performance measures, and then get out of their way. They may find a faster, more efficient way of completing the task that increases production and efficiencies.
  3. Invest in technology to help them complete their jobs in a timely manner; take time to ask what tools the Gen Xers would use.
  4. Appoint them as team leaders and let them do the leading.
  5. Allow for flexible schedules, ability to work from home as it pertains to their jobs. Reward them with additional paid time off.
  6. Motivate by direct positive feedback, while providing clear direction and goals to be met. Quarterly, to annual, performance evaluations are important. However, Gen Xers will need immediate feedback on their assigned projects to keep moving and complete their work.
Gen Xers are loyal to their employers, provided their employers allow them to work to live, but will jump ship if they feel that balance is being interfered with or being taken away from them.

Gen Y: Let’s Do This Together
Millennials, born in the mid to late 1970s up to mid to late 1990s, have been referred to as the “Me” generation. Millennials are the children of late-end Baby Boomers and early Gen Xers. Their parents negotiated with them and gave them choices rather than consequences. They were told everything they did was great, and everyone on their team received a trophy. Their parents kept them busy with endless extracurricular activities and team sports. They often have good relationships with their parents and may live with their parents until they are married. They went to college and their parents paid for it.

They don’t just use technology, they embrace it. They grew up with it, use it regularly, rely on it, and seem to be unable to live without it. They often work to buy more electronic gadgets and to play. For Millennials, technology is an integral part of their lives and they use it to make their life more pleasant and to make their work easier.

Millennial Characteristics and Traits:
  • Often those that are “caught” on Facebook or texting at work, but they are actually managing their workload, as well as managing their busy electronic social lives.
  • Make good team players and like working in teams, but that may not be a face-to-face team. They may want to work via web-based tools such as Skype or video conferencing. They will instant message or text a colleague in the next cubicle rather than get up and meet with them face-to-face.
  • Appreciate mentors that don’t preach to them, but rather those that gently guide them with questions and choices.
  • Need regular, and consistent, positive reinforcement on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis. They need to be told when they are doing a good job.
  • They ask first about the money or benefits of a job rather than about the company.
  • Lack loyalty to an employer that stifles their creativity or will not allow them the use social media or electronic devices in the workplace.
Attract and retain Millennials by:
  1. Creating social media and electronic media usage policies, with generous allotment of time for personal use, provided their essential job functions are completed in a timely manner.
  2. Create a team-based atmosphere and provide recognition and reward for a job well done.
  3. Invest in cutting-edge technology with input from the Millennials.
  4. Assign mentors to new employees, with specific instructions to the mentors on how to guide the new employee.
  5. Enlist Millennials in researching new products, procedures and best practices. They may find a new program that streamlines your production process or more accurately estimates the amount of material you use on a job.
  6. Ask them for their input on new benefits and compensation plans and offer them something that allows them the freedom to “work to live”.
  7. Engage them in assisting with social media and other e-media marketing.
  8. Motivate them with positive reinforcement and constructive correction, rather than criticism.
If you are a Baby Boomer, or an early-era Gen Xer, you are rolling your eyes about now. You are thinking that you don’t have time to babysit. But this is your new workforce. Tap into their knowledge and use of technology. Teach them that the tools of your trade are as necessary to construction as their electronic “tools” are to them. Your new customers are Gen Xers and soon will be Millennials; you will need like-minded individuals to help you reach your target audience and to speak the new customers’ language.

Teach them the trade skills of your business, while allowing them to put their unique spin on the execution. They can learn from you as well; for instance, there is value to staying focused on one task at a time and completing without interruption. New ideas and new approaches are crucial to the survival of any business and especially for construction. You will always need the artisans, but you need the new ideas and excitement of the current generations.

The construction industry is facing serious labor shortages. Embrace the change now and get used to it because Generation Z— as the toddlers who are playing with their parents’ smart phones are called — will be entering the workforce before you know it. Who knows what challenges they will bring to the table.

This article first appeared in Building Women magazine, a publication of NAHB Professional Women in Building.

How Long Does It Take to Build a House?

The 2012 Survey of Construction (SOC) from the Census Bureau shows that on average it takes about 7 months from obtaining a building permit to completing a new single-family home. Looking at the houses completed in 2012, houses built for sale, on average, register the shortest time from permits to completion – between 5 and 6 months. Houses built on owner’s land take longer – about 8 months if built by a contractor and more than 11 months if they are owner-built (i.e., where the owner of the land serves as a general contractor). Single-family homes built for rent take, on average, between 8 and 9 months from permits to completion.

In most cases, no time is wasted from the moment a permit is obtained and construction is started. Most homes built for sale and on owners’ land are started prior or within the same month as authorization. Houses built for rent, on average, register a slight delay of one month before construction is started.

The time from permits to completion varies across the nine Census divisions. New England and Middle Atlantic register longer times of between 9 and 10 months. Pacific and East North Central division also show above average time of 8 months to completion. Builders in the East South Central Division manage to complete a home in 7 months, on average. The rest of the country registers times between 5 and 6 months.

For houses built for sale, the SOC also gathers information on sales, registered at the time when a buyer signs a sale agreement or makes a deposit on the home, not the final closing. For new single-family homes sold in 2012, the average time from completion to sale is under one month. However, this average is highly skewed by a relatively small number of homes that are not sold prior or while under construction. Looking at new single-family homes completed in 2012, more than three quarters of these properties were sold before or during the completion month, including 30 percent that were pre-sold (i.e., sold before being started). Only 6 percent of homes completed in 2012 remain unsold as of the first quarter of 2013. So, for most new single family homes there is no additional lag from completion to sale.

Remodeling Market Index Climbs For Second Quarter in a Row

The Remodeling Market Index (RMI) continued to climb at a modest pace in the third quarter of 2013 rising two points to 57, the highest reading since the first quarter of 2004, according to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB).

An RMI above 50 indicates that more remodelers report market activity is higher (compared to the prior quarter) than report it is lower. The overall RMI averages ratings of current remodeling activity with indicators of future remodeling activity. The RMI’s current market conditions index rose from 54 in the previous quarter to 58, the highest reading since the creation of the RMI in 2001, driven partly by rising existing home sales.

“The growth in home equity and home sales prompted home owners to remodel as they prepare to move or undertake upgrades that they put off during tough times,” said NAHB Remodelers Chairman Bill Shaw, GMR, GMB, CGP, a remodeler from Houston. “NAHB Remodelers looks forward to continuing our tradition of professional service and craftsmanship as the housing recovery makes progress.”

All three major components of the RMI’s current market conditions index increased in the third quarter. Major additions and alterations increased from 51 to 55, minor additions and repairs from 55 to 58 and maintenance and repair from 57 to 59. The future market indicators component of the RMI remained even with the previous quarter reading of 56.

Regionally, the RMI has registered two consecutive quarters of gains in the Northeast, Midwest and West. In the South, the RMI edged down slightly in the third quarter after a five point gain the previous quarter. All four regions were above 50 and higher in the third quarter than in the first quarter of 2013.

“In addition to existing home sales, which support remodeling activity as owners fix up their homes before and after a move, remodeling has benefitted from rising home values,” said NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe. “This boosts home equity that owners can tap to finance remodeling projects. We expect existing home sales and house prices to increase, but at a slower rate over the next year, so the demand for remodeling services should also increase, but more gradually over that period.”

For more information about remodeling, visit

Request for Information on Flood Insurance Rates

We are well aware of the shocking price increases some properties are facing for flood insurance policies in 2014. Your HBA is working to get Congress to mitigate these changes, and we may have some windows of opportunity to raise the profile of this problem with Congress in the coming weeks.

What we need, however, are some specific examples of price increases. We are aware of plenty of anecdotal stories, as is Congress, but we lack pricing information linked to a specific property.

If you are running into problems with flood insurance, you may be able to help.

What we need: is documentation showing the current policy’s rate and the new rate. We don’t need the property owner’s name but must have the address.

Any information shared with us will be shared with congressional committee staff and, very likely, FEMA. We realize this may make some property owners uncomfortable, but there is always the possibility that FEMA will review and adjust it in light of a congressional inquiry!

It would be incredibly helpful to have some documented case examples to highlight the problem.

HBA Member, Todd Usher, Joins Clemson University's Industry Advisory Board

Todd Usher, GMB, Master CGP, Approved Professional Builder
Past President Todd Usher, GMB, Master CGP, Approved Professional Builder, has been named to the Industry Advisory Board for Clemson University’s Department of Construction Science and Management (CSM).

The CSM department supports the HBA Student Chapter at Clemson. The HBA of Greenville is the sponsoring HBA for the student chapter.

Comprised of leaders from a variety of construction-related companies throughout the Southeast, the Industry Advisory Board works to ensure a relevant academic program for CSM students by focusing on five areas: executive, alumni development, curriculum, development and facilities. Usher, president of Greenville-based Addison Homes, sits on the board’s steering committee.

“It is a privilege to support the Construction Science and Management Department,” says Usher, who earned both a bachelor’s degree and an MBA from Clemson. “I look forward to working on behalf of the school’s rigorous endeavors in teaching, research and service for the benefit of the construction industry.”

The CSM department, now in its 42nd year, is one of the four original components of the university’s College of Architecture. CSM offers both undergraduate and master’s degree programs; in collaboration with the School of Architecture and the Department of Planning and Landscape Architecture, it also offers a Ph.D. program.

In addition, CSM has a research and professional development component, the Center for the Improvement of Construction Management and Processes (CICMP). For more information about Clemson’s CSM Department, visit

About Addison Homes:

Addison Homes builds all of its homes to rigorous ENERGY STAR®, EarthCraft House™ and/or DOE Challenge Home standards. As a leader in sustainable, high-performance building, Addison Homes has received numerous awards and recognition including the 2012 Master Certified Green Builder of the Year Award from the National Association of Home Builders; 2011 EarthCraft House™ Gold Project of the Year Award; 2011 Green Building Advocate of the Year Award from NAHB; 2011 Certified Graduate Builder of the Year Award from NAHB; 2010 Safety Award for Excellence from NAHB/Builders Mutual Insurance Company; 2010 Finalist, America’s Best Builder Award from BUILDER magazine; 2009 Builder of the Year Award from the Home Builders Association of Greenville; 2008 Individual Environmental Stewardship Award from the Upstate Chapter of the US Green Building Council; Upstate Forever’s 2008 Sustainable Communities Champion; and 2007 EarthCraft House™ Regional Builder of the Year Award. For more information, visit

New Index Shows Housing Markets Back to Normal in 52 Metro Areas

Housing markets in 52 out of the approximately 350 metro areas nationwide have now returned to or exceeded their pre-recessionary levels of activity, according to the newly minted National Association of Home Builders/First American Leading Markets Index (LMI), released today. The index’s nationwide score of .85 indicates that, based on current permits, prices and employment data, the nationwide housing market is running at 85 percent of normal activity.

Baton Rouge, La., tops the list of major metros on the LMI, with a score of 1.41 – or 41% better than its last normal market level. Other major metros at the top of the list include Honolulu, Oklahoma City, Austin and Houston, Texas, as well as Harrisburg, Pa. – all of whose LMI scores indicate that their housing markets now exceed previous norms.

Looking at smaller metros, both Odessa and Midland, Texas, boast LMI scores of 2.0 or better, meaning that their housing markets are now at double their strength prior to the recession. Also at the top of the list of smaller metros are Casper, Wyo.; Bismarck, N.D.; and Florence, Ala., respectively.

“This index helps illustrate how far the U.S. housing recovery has come, and also how much further it has to go as we continue to face some significant headwinds in terms of credit availability, rising costs for lots and labor, and uncertainties regarding Washington policymaking,” said NAHB Chairman Rick Judson, a home builder from Charlotte, N.C.

The LMI shifts the focus from identifying markets that have recently begun to recover, which was the aim of a previous gauge known as the Improving Markets Index, to identifying those areas that are now approaching and exceeding their previous normal levels of activity. More than 350 metro areas are scored by taking their average permit, price and employment numbers for the past 12 months and dividing each by their annual average over the last period of normal growth. For single-family permits and home prices, 2000-2003 is used as the last normal period, and for employment, 2007 is the base comparison. The three components are then averaged to provide an overall score for each market; a national score is calculated based on national measures of the three metrics. An index value above one indicates that a market has advanced beyond its previous normal level of economic activity.

“Smaller metros are leading the way to a housing recovery, accounting for 43 of the top 50 markets on the current LMI,” observed NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe. “This is very much in keeping with the results of our previous index for improving markets, and is an indication of the extent to which local economic conditions dictate the strength of individual housing markets.”

“A total of 118 metros scored by the LMI this month are at least 90 percent of the way back to normal, and that’s a very encouraging sign of things to come,” said Kurt Pfotenhauer, vice chairman of First American Title Insurance Co.

Editor’s Note: In calculating the LMI, NAHB utilizes employment growth data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, house price appreciation data from Freddie Mac and single-family housing permit growth from the U.S. Census Bureau. The LMI is published on the fourth working day of each month, unless that day falls on a Friday -- in which case, it is released on the following Monday.

Travel discounts offered through Home Builders Purchasing Partners

Home Builders Purchasing Partners now includes travel discounts through Expedia.  Save up to 40% on hotels during Expedia's fall sale. As an NPP member you can save an additional 5% on top of Expedia's already great deals.

To access the savings, follow these steps:
  • Log in to with your username ( and password (forgot password?)
  • Under Vendor Discounts select “Expedia.”
  • Click on “Access Discount.”
  • Create an Expedia account or log in to your existing Expedia account.
Once you have registered for the Expedia discount through the NPP site, you can go directly to and a select the coupon code "NPP 5% Hotel Discount" on the billing and delivery page during checkout.

Book by October 31 and travel by December 31, 2013.

New promotions from Verizon

Here are the latest Verizon promotions available to NPP members:
  • 4G Smartphone offers, including: the Nokia Lumia 822 for 99 cents, the Casio G’zOne Commando for $49.99, and the BlackBerry Z10 for $99.99, when you activate or upgrade a voice with data plan.
  • Bill Incentive Credit (BIC) of $100/line on Smartphones, $50/line for basic phone service, and $25/line for Netbooks, Tablets and Internet devices with a new monthly plan of $34.99 or higher. 
  • Two of Verizon’s Jetpack 4G LTE Mobile Hotspots, the MiFi 4620LE and MiFi 5510L, are available to you for free with a mobile broadband plan. The Franklin Wireless X720 is also free.For more details on these offers, take a look at the promotional flyer links included in this e-mail. These promos are available through December 31, 2013.
If you would like to further discuss your NPP membership, feel free to contact us directly at 800.810.3909 or

SC Identity Theft Protection News

In 2012, the SC Department of Revenue was hacked and nearly every South Carolina citizen and business became at risk of identity theft. In response the State of South Carolina has offered free credit monitoring through Experian. That contract expires this month.

New coverage begins October 24 through CSIdentity Corp.  The State of South Carolina is paying CSIdentity up to $8.5 million to provide credit monitoring to anyone affected by the breach of state computers, so there is no charge to you for the service. However, the initial service is not transferable between the two companies.  Therefore, you will need to sign-up again for the free credit monitoring.

Eligible taxpayers can now sign up for the identity protection through CSIdentity by doing one of the following:

Click here
Call 855-880-2743

Enrollment will remain open until October 1, 2014, and CSIdentity's service will end October 31, 2014, unless renewed by the State of South Carolina.

More information regarding the changeover also is available through the South Carolina Department of Revenue website,

GBS Building Supply a Top 20 fastest growing company in SC

GBS Building Supply was recognized by SC Biz News as a Top 20 fastest growing large company in 2013.  Reading the entire report at GSA Business by clicking here.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

CEPSCI Course Offered at HBASC - Southern Builders Network (SBN)

A special Certified Erosion Prevention and Sediment Control Inspector (CEPSCI) course will be offered in partnership with the Home Builders Association of South Carolina’s Southern Builders Network Education Conference in Hilton Head, SC. The training will take place at the Westin Hilton Head Island Resort and Spa on November 7, 2013, with the opportunity to take the qualifying exam the following day. Administrators from the state regulatory agency, SC Department of Health and Environmental Control, will be on-hand to answer questions and interact with course participants and instructors.

The purpose of the CEPSCI program is to educate field personnel on the proper installation, maintenance and inspection of erosion prevention and sediment control measures at construction sites. Individuals who complete the course and pass the qualifying exam will be certified to conduct compliance inspections on behalf of the 2012 NPDES Construction General Permit in South Carolina. The cost of the CEPSCI course is $295 per person.

To register for this special CEPSCI course offering, please visit the CEPSCI Registration page. The authentication code will be SBN2013 in all caps.

For more information, please visit the CEPSCI web site.