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Cutting Corners in Construction

When you enter a building or a home, you expect it to be safe. You don’t expect that the contractors used sub-standard materials or didn’t double-check their work.

However, ethics and the building industry have butted heads forever. Cutting corners seems to be an all too common part of doing business.

This doesn’t mean it’s right. In fact, it’s time to create a much more ethical building industry.

Cutting Corners For Greed

Greed is usually the reason why those in the building industry cut corners. They can charge clients for materials, but then use sub-standard materials instead. The contractor then gets to pocket the difference.

However, there’s a reason projects need certain types of materials. Using the wrong material results in weakened and dangerous buildings. It’s important to note that it’s not always management making these calls either. For larger building companies, small teams may be managed remotely. This means their manager and the company owner may not know what’s going on until it’s too late.

Pressure To Save Money

Of course, the building industry is highly competitive. In fact, the industry employees 10.7 million workers in the United States alone. Competition leads to bidding low on projects in order to stay in business. The problem is this creates an ethical dilemma. Bidding low may lead to jobs, but it’s difficult to pay employees.

As a result, contractors cut corners to make even low paying jobs more profitable. By skipping steps and using sub-standard materials, companies are able to out-bid more ethical companies and still come out on top. It’s not until someone gets hurt or a building is found unsafe that they’re finally held accountable.

Risking Lives Of Workers

Most of the time, you think of cutting corners as just risking the lives of those who enter and use the building. However, it also risks the lives of the workers. Taking shortcuts while building scaffolding, for instance, puts everyone who stands on it in danger. Not taking the extra time for safety training or ensuring everyone is properly trained for their position is risky. For example, contractors might hire cheaper labor that’s untrained to get jobs finished quickly without spending as much.

Risking Lives Of Others

Naturally, cutting corners risks the lives of everyone who uses the building. From daily use to a one-time visitor, everyone’s life is at risk. A poorly constructed frame could collapse at any point. Using particle board versus real wood could result in floors that break down much faster, especially in humid environments.

Ruining Faith In The Industry

Sadly, there are far too many unethical incidents in the building industry. And, this results in a trickle effect. If management does it, why shouldn’t employees cut even more corners? Despite the construction industry having a clear Code of Ethics, there are many notable instances of contractors being arrested for everything from cutting corners to offering bribes. Ethical builders are even amazed at how bad it can get, such as a community in South Jordan, Utah who filed suit due to damages resulting from cutting corners.

The answer is more employees need to report unethical behavior. Anonymous hotlines have the power to fix these issues and save lives.