One thing a sales person wrote to me the other day caught my eye since it is a very common theory
in almost everything, especially in the western world. And that is the concept of spending more to save time. Time is money concept etc. Like many companies he used the theory to sell his green building walls.
He writes: Now, our foundations panels ARE more expensive than the foundation pour…. Time vs. cost tradeoffs of labor versus expediency.
I am learning that it is better to go against this logic in increasingly more cases. I have experimented and concluded that I would rather spend a little more time and thus more money on labor cost. And likewise build a system that is cheaper in materials. It keeps the money more local, as in immediately local to the workers, and it slows the process down a little.
But because you are saving money in materials you have more money to spend on labor. So you can throw more workers on the job and speed things up that way.
I understand that building is a mad race to finish, but it’s a throwback to a different way of building. As a green contractor in Brooklyn I renovate 100 year old houses and it is amazing how much labor went into them using simple materials. Now it is the opposite: complex materials and as little labor (read time) as possible,
I am increasingly concluding that more labor and less/simpler/cheaper materials is a greener way to go. I do realize this goes against the logic of the MANY companies offering very effective and time saving green products.
And my concept of course can be merged with those products. But a lot of the time I rather build the product in house with simple materials and more labor. This is not just a cost issue. It is an extension of the the 500 mile LEED point for regional materials where you get rewarded if you shop locally, thus reducing carbon transportation footprints and keeping commerce local.
By building in house with simple materials you are taking that a step further. You can’t get more regional than ON SITE.
We are doing this a lot at the Brooklyn Green Show House. We are making our stair treads, counter tops, flooring, and a lot more. It takes time. But it costs less. So I simply have more workers. I think it is a better trade off.