$20k house redux

I don’t believe it’s fair to criticize unless you can offer a better idea.  If these four guys can actually build a complete house in three weeks, they are carpenters, not mere laborers. This crew is going to spend the next fifty years building these houses, they deserve a better bargain.  Carpentry is skilled labor, and should be treated as such.  $11.57/hr. is not a reasonable wage for a carpenter, even in rural Alabama.

$11.57/hr. may be more than minimum wage, but $22,000/yr. won’t feed and house a family, provide health and dental care, and set aside a nest egg for retirement.  It most certainly isn’t going to send the kids to college…

Premise 1—–16 houses per year @ $20,000 per house=$320,000.

per house: $12,000 materials, $8000 labor, 480 man-hours.  wages: 1@ $31.77/hr.  3@11.57/hr.  typical employer/employee relationship.  contractor receives almost half the compensation package, or almost triple the wage of the workers.  in turn, roughly a third of the contractor’s gross will be paid out for insurance, accountant, equipment, etc.  leaving him with @$20/hr. in actual wages.

Premise 2—–12 houses per year @ $25,000 per house= $300,000.

per house: $12,000 materials, $13,000 labor, 640 man-hours.  wages: (1) 4 independent contractors @$20/hr.  or: (2) 1@ $20/hr.  3@ $15/hr.  $2,600 reserve—–limited liability corporation.  I have added back the $2000 that was stolen from the original labor budget (and added in another $3000 to round out, you shouldn’t arbitrarily take money out of the worker’s pocket.)  I prefer this model, it’s more equitable, there’s a capital fund for business expenses and contingencies, and the workers are fully invested in the business.

Premise 3—–12 houses per year @ $30,000 per house= $360,000.

same model as premise 2 (2), identical business structure and compensation package, just another $5,000 added to cover mechanical work that isn’t in the carpenters’ job description.  still no profit motive here, but at least the workers are receiving a reasonable share of the value they are creating.  for a 600 square foot house, that’s $50/square foot, still less than NAHB $80/square foot.

What I would like to see is some sort of program that fosters building skills in the indigenous population.  All I’ve seen so far is a bunch of upper middle class white kids having a lot of fun designing and building houses.  That isn’t leveling the field, it’s actually maintaining the status quo. By now there must be forty or so young architects who have been through the Thesis Studio.  How many of them would be willing to work for a year building $20k houses under their proposed conditions (Premise 1)?

About michaellangford2012

Timber framer, boatbuilder, dreamer, writer, musician; collector of books, tools, aphorisms. "There is nothing, absolutely nothing…half so much worth doing…as simply messing about in boats."
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