Home Design-Building in a Tight Labor Market: Atlantic Prefab

AS A DESIGN-BUILD FIRM, JEWETT CONSTRUCTION PARTNERS WITH A BROAD RANGE OF LIKE-MINDED SUBCONTRACTORS WHO HELP US WORK THROUGH PROJECTS FASTER, HELPING TO ALLEVIATE CONCERNS WITH THE CONSTRUCTION LABOR SHORTAGE.

One such company is Nashua, NH-based Atlantic Prefab, a fast-growing firm offering quality, value-addedpre-fabricated solutions for metal roof trusses, pre-finished exterior wall panels, and accelerated envelope panels. We spoke with Mark Beroney, General Manager and Senior Designer, about how his company is dealing with the shortage of skilled labor and his take on the design-build approach.

“Like everyone else we’re of course being affected by the skilled labor situation,” Beroney told us, “but due to the prefab nature of our business we can deal more effectively with it. We build metal roof trusses, and exterior wall panels—with all systems already in place—in our shop. Labor is more efficient in a shop for a couple of reasons. First, it’s a controlled physical environment. Our skilled people work side by side with general labor we bring in, overseeing and working closely as they train them, so we’re not as dependent on the skilled end. Secondly, we don’t have to work around the weather or other trades’ schedules. Also, we build everything at eye level, don’t waste time scaling ladders all day which keeps things running efficiently.

“As far as our experience with the Design-Build approach itself, the prefab business actually works best in this scenario. The contractor is more interested in value engineering and what will work best as far as design, and we’re allowed into the design phase from the start, which architects appreciate. The contractor is interested in what we can bring to the table, too, and how they can best set up to use our products. Take exterior envelope panels, for instance, which is our most popular product. Delivering these to a job site with all systems fully assembled saves a lot of construction time. To accomplish this, we need to start early in the process which is why Design-Build works so well. This also allows us to find any design issues at the start and fix them while still on paper rather than in the field. Getting an early jump on a project like this is key for us. We get the design early, frame the wall, sheath the wall, install the weather barrier, continuous insulation, etc., all in the shop at eye level and basically at the same time. Using the Design-Build model in this way not only results in better quality, it shaves about 2 months off the construction schedule.

“We consider our model of in-shop pre-fab construction, when used in conjunction with the Design-Build model, to be a great solution to labor shortage. And what we really like about working with Jewett Construction, specifically Craig Jewett himself, is that the company embraces the benefits of prefabrication, really gets the big picture in terms of schedule savings and reduced costs to the client in the long run.”

Jewett Construction, an official Butler Builder, is a Raymond, NH-based design-build firm specializing in commercial and industrial projects throughout the Northeast. Our commitment to the Design-Build model and forward-thinking sub-contractors like Atlantic Prefab goes a long way in mitigating the existing labor shortage as pertains to working on our clients’ jobs.