The Risk of Doing Nothing
As I reflect on the seventeen years I have been the Director of MBI, there are a few common themes that continue to be roadblocks to greater adoption of modular construction.
The first is the mindset that makes me cringe every time I see it in print: “Modular is the future of construction.” Sounds positive enough, but it is a dismissive comment and implies we are not quite ready for prime time. We are not talking about flying cars; we’re talking about a more efficient way to construct buildings. Its also quite an insult all the companies who have been successful in this space for decades.
Sam Kullman founded Kullman Industries in the late 1920s and was building modular diners up and down the East Coast for years to follow. THAT would have been the time to label modular construction as the future, not 100 years later. Think about that – 100 years later people are still dismissive of modular construction.
The second comment I often hear is this: “Modular sounds promising, but I don’t want to take the risk. I’ll stick with what I know.”
Sure, understanding how to successfully incorporate modular construction into a site-built world takes time and effort. But most GCs simply do not want to make the effort to learn something “new” or do not have the time. So, they do what they always do.
I have heard owners tell me that they WANT to go modular, but don’t quite understand how to budget for it. They can budget for the KNOWN waste, inefficiencies, and schedule overruns in traditional construction because they are all too common and quantifiable. It seems easier for them to budget for the inefficiencies of traditional construction than to learn how to incorporate modular construction.
“Status quo” is one hell of a barrier in construction. But what a terribly flawed business model. Would status quo work in ANY other industry? Thank goodness our healthcare professionals didn’t take this position, or we would be using leeches to combat COVID 19.
But that is all changing in the construction industry. “Status quo” is no longer a safe bet. The world is full of uncertainty now and doing things the way you’ve always done them just doesn’t cut it anymore.
Simply put, the risk of doing nothing is far greater now than the risk of innovating.
If you are in the construction industry and you do not have a plan to address labor shortages, how long do you plan to survive? If you are not actively thinking about every way to gain efficiencies from the people and resources you employ, what message does that send? That you are fine wasting money?
If you are an owner or developer, you need to ask your GC these questions:
What are you doing to ensure my project stays on schedule and on budget?
What assurances do I have that your workforce is qualified, competent, and reliable? Will they show up on Monday? Are you doing anything to protect your workers’ safety and well-being?
What are you doing to inspect the quality of my project during construction?
Are you asking these questions? Or are you willing to die on the sword of status quo? It’s a slow and painful death, but it’s death, nonetheless.
Started on October 30, 2020 by Tom Hardiman