A contracts manager for one of the major housebuilders recently told an industry journalist that if you offer a bricklayer more money, “He doesn’t take the money, he takes Friday off!” The remark may not be true of all tradesmen, but it does illustrate how the boom in building has put contractors back at the mercy of a volatile and limited labour market. Which also means managers need to think laterally about using alternative materials or technologies and skillsets: including cosmetic repair.
Beginning with brickwork you can take unreliable or expensive ‘trowel-hands’ off your critical path altogether by switching the specification to one of the many lookalike alternatives available: including brick slips, render systems which replicate some of the traditional bond patterns, or the modern version of mathematical tiling, known as Novabrick.
However if you find you’re running short of a brick type during a job – due to supply problems or wastage levels – it is possible to substitute an alternative range or even flettons; and then get a cosmetic repair specialist to apply the right colour and texture.
Up-cycling is favourite phrase for home improvement and craft gurus, but it also has a resonance for the industry’s new-build and refurbishment contractors, who could both benefit from the same finishing skills: turning basic blockwork into reconstituted masonry, or patched brickwork into A1 facework.
The same applies to roof tiles, window frames, cladding panels and even bathroom suites or other components which have been delivered damaged or perhaps in the wrong colour. Why risk delays waiting for replacement deliveries when a specialist can transform them into the materials you need.
Finally, if you are tempted to call on the services of a cosmetic repair specialist, then ensure that its operatives are multi-skilled so that they can tackle multiple tasks in the one visit. Also that the standard day rate includes all travel, materials and insurances; supported by an effective management structure, as well as transparent computer based reporting and invoicing.