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  • Writer's pictureDon Magruder

Do Not Waste on Construction Projects

Since last year, lumber and plywood products have more than doubled in price and most other products used in home construction and remodeling have increased in cost by 10 to 30 percent or more. Housing indexes, which measure the price of housing, are at record levels and everything is hard to find. To illustrate how extensive the prices of building materials have increased, consider these five items, which are some of the most popular items used in construction in Lake and Sumter Counties.

From May 2020 to May 2021, 2x4-92 5/8 spruce wall studs have increased $4.11 each while 2x4-16 dimensional spruce has jumped $8.44 per board. 7/16 OSB sheathing is up $24.43 per sheet while 5/8 CDX pine plywood has soared a whopping $30.33 per sheet. 3 1/4 colonial base moulding is up almost 30 percent (or 8 cents per lineal foot). These are huge increases and that is real money.

At these record prices, builders, project owners, and remodelers cannot afford waste on the jobsite. On jobsites in the past, workers have been very nonchalant when it comes to waste. Most of them did not purchase the material and if they had extra material (waste) it was no skin off their nose. At these record prices, waste must be eliminated.

Here are three important ways you can eliminate waste on your construction project.

Order exactly what you need. In the past, builders and subcontractors were quick to add a 10 or 20 percent waste factor for building materials being delivered to jobsites. In essence, they condoned poor behavior by workers. More time should be taken to correctly calculate the list of materials and workers should be instructed on how to use the material. If more material is needed on the jobsite, someone should have to be accountable and explain the reason why—whether it is a mistake, theft, or waste factor. If you are doing a construction project, inspect the dumpster on your jobsite. You will see how much waste you have on your project, and it will probably hurt your feelings.

Next, purchase the right products and correct lengths. Contractors are creatures of habit and very few of them want to figure things out to the nitty-gritty. For example, at most lumberyards 2x4 dimensional spruce comes in lengths from 8 feet to 16 feet. However, most builders only order 16-foot lengths. Only using one length in lumber encourages waste on a jobsite, because very few walls are 16-feet in length. As a result, carpenters on the jobsite will take 16-foot boards to construction a 14-foot wall and waste two feet. At these record prices, ordering the proper length to match the project and then instructing your carpenters to size the project out can save the project owner a lot of money. A builder that only orders one length in lumber has not done a thorough evaluation of your project.

Finally, securing your jobsite against theft is probably one of the biggest areas you can prevent waste on your jobsite. With building materials at historical prices, neighbors and other contractors will treat your jobsite as their lumberyard. If you drop a pile of material on the jobsite and leave it unsecured, it is just like putting raw meat in front of a hungry dog—it will quickly disappear. Although theft has always been a big problem on most construction sites, the issue has been exacerbated with everything going up in price. Everything is getting stolen—from lumber, to doors, to cabinets. Only have delivered what can be nailed up that day and lock up your jobsite as soon as you can.

What is so discouraging about jobsite waste is that most small pieces of cutoff wood or moulding can be used in other areas of the project, such as bracing or closets. However, many carpenters find it easier to simply grab a new stick. There is little doubt that if they are paying for the material on their own project, they would make use of every scrap piece. These days, larger commercial contractors are having laborers scour jobsites daily and repurpose small pieces of lumber and sheathings to cut down the waste factor.

On your next construction project, do not waste unless you want to pay a lot more.

Don Magruder is the CEO of RoMac Building Supply and host of Around the House, which can be seen at

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