A recent NAHB survey reveals that professional remodelers have begun to see some shortages of directly employed labor as well as of subcontractors. The findings come from the Labor Availability Report EXTERNAL for the first quarter of 2013, which asked remodelers about shortages for 12 different trades:
In terms of direct labor, results show that at least 35 percent of remodelers report shortages of finished carpenters, rough carpenters, and framing crews, while 27 percent report shortages of bricklayers/masons. When it comes to subcontractors, over 35 percent also report problems finding finished carpenters, rough carpenters, and framing crew subs, while 20 percent to 30 percent report sub shortages of bricklayers, painters, and roofers.
A similar survey was sent to single-family builders in March 2013. Comparing both sets of results shows that, in general, builders are more likely to be experiencing labor shortages than remodelers, particularly for framing crews (both directly employed and subs) and electricians. The only trade for which remodelers are more likely than builders to report shortages is finished carpenters.
Another way to compare results between remodelers and builders is by calculating the average share of each group reporting any shortage across all 12 trades. This exercise shows that 23.2 percent of remodelers report shortages of directly employed labor, compared to 27.8 percent among builders. Similarly, 24.5 percent of remodelers report a shortage of subcontractors, compared to 30.7 percent among builders.
It’s important, however, not to overstate the results. While some remodelers are seeing shortages of some types of labor, still more than half of them report no shortages for any of the types of labor listed. Yet given the soft start of the current housing recovery, it is concerning to see any labor shortages this early in the game.
 Builders and remodelers do not always use the same type of labor, of course. Remodelers not working on additions may not need framing crews, for example, which could account for the lower shortages among remodelers.