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Labor shortages cause Austin-area construction companies to get creative

Hoar Construction is having many of its materials pre-fabricated. It cut out the extra workers needed by having many things made beforehand.

AUSTIN, Texas — Construction companies are finding themselves in a tough spot. Many like Hoar Construction are understaffed and have to get creative to complete projects. 

"With the pandemic and then with just the growth in Austin, we found that we just have fewer workers," said Jeff Light, vice president of Hoar Construction.

This causes some concern. Between Tesla's new factory, Samsung's chip fabrication plant and more, a lot is going on.

Dell Children's Medical Center is just another project underway in Central Texas. Light said they're adding a fourth tower to the hospital. 

"It's 72 beds that will eventually be patient rooms for children in need," he added.

It's a big project that normally requires about 200 workers. Hoar Construction is down by half.

Project safety manager Tanner Potts said they're addressing the shortage by cutting back on some of the construction that happens on-site.

"We've had a lot of our materials come pre-fabricated now, which requires a little bit less manpower on the job," he said.

For this specific project, they had bathrooms built off-site and later installed here. The pipes and electrical equipment were also planned out. 

"There's a lot of examples of prefabrication that we're trying to utilize on this project," said Light. "Probably the most obvious and significant is all the exterior walls are being built offsite. They're actually being built in Dallas and then trucked to Austin."

But is this sustainable?

"I think it makes our schedules more predictable," added Light. "And in this case, it's actually made the schedule shorter, which is something that the hospital desires because they want to provide their services to the community."

Not only do pre-fabricated items save time, but they're also easier to install and safer, according to Potts. 

Light said the building will be done by November of next year. 


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