How Many Is Too Many? - General Discussion - Contractor Talk

How Many Is Too Many?

 
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Old 06-11-2015, 08:09 AM   #1
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How Many Is Too Many?


How many guys on site at a time is too many? We have 4 employees including myself and most of the time we all work on the same job site. We do more interior remodeling than anything else but also a few decks and some exterior work such as siding, rot repair, painting, etc.

When you have 4 guys trying to work in a bath remodel or even a kitchen remodel, it always seems really crowded to me. It's hard to be efficient when you're constantly getting in the way of each other.

There is also the issue of different people having different levels of neatness and job site tidiness which leads to what feels to me like chaos.

Right now, I would love to be working by myself cause I'm frustrated at lack of space and all day yesterday someone being in the way. It feels so inefficient.

But realistically, what do you guys think? Two or maybe three guys on site at a time?
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Old 06-11-2015, 08:24 AM   #2
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Re: How Many Is Too Many?


I would probably give different guys different responsibilities after explaining your dilemma to them first. One guy is responsible for keeping the site and truck/trailer neat and organized...another guy is responsible for getting materials in and out.
I usually work alone but when someone is helping, it sure is nice to be able to ask someone to get something for you instead of multiple trips to the truck. And I'm happy to be the gopher too...not above that.

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Old 06-11-2015, 09:08 AM   #3
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Re: How Many Is Too Many?


It depends upon the job of course, but usually it's obvious for the reasons you mentioned and worst case you need to have another project for a couple guys to be working on. I'm doing a small bath remodel right now and there is barely enough room for one peoson to efficiently work due to the small bath footprint and narrow hallways in the home. So while Sheetrock and tile goes up, I am doing some exterior trim and punch list stuff on another project nearby and just stop in to check on progress.
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Old 06-11-2015, 09:27 AM   #4
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Re: How Many Is Too Many?


Wow... I can't imagine 4 guys doing a bath remodel or even a residentil deck... I would think it's a monkey-screwing-a-football..... a crew of 4 rocking a home or even an addition ... then yes.

As sorta retired, I do a lot of work alone.... and it is nice as you control everything and are responsible to no one but yourself....

....some efficiency is lost on many/some jobs with only one person.... but there are alot of work arounds/tricks etc. (Clamps become your best friend).

I guess pro's/cons to both...

Good luck


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Old 06-11-2015, 09:41 AM   #5
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Re: How Many Is Too Many?


Best answer: Work two job sites, thereby only having 2 at one site. No crowding.

If there is the work of 4 to do, that is one thing, but most bathrooms aren't that big, its physically difficult to have more than 1 or two people inside working at the same time. Placing people at opposite ends of the renovation work helps.

Sometimes its nice to have 3 or 4- especially during material moves and demo phases. goes really fast. but then once thats done you gotta split up. the work for the day.

Taping and stuff can take a long time, so does clean up, and tool organizing. Its an important job non the less.
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Old 06-11-2015, 10:35 AM   #6
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Re: How Many Is Too Many?


Yeah, seems like you'd benefit from overlapping jobs so 2 are on each site except when needed.
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Old 06-11-2015, 10:57 AM   #7
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Re: How Many Is Too Many?


In my experience, it takes precisely somewhere around 1.47 guys to do a bath remodel efficiently. Haven't figured out how to hire a .47 guy.

If every job is overstaffed like that, your boss is throwing money away. If it's only once in a while, that kind of goes with the territory. Send guys home too much, and they're going to find someone else to work for.
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Old 06-11-2015, 11:05 AM   #8
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Re: How Many Is Too Many?


I make good money on bathrooms largely because of the fact that I go in as a one man show and can work full tilt all day long without anyone in my way or anyone to stop and explain things to. I can't imagine having more than one other guy even in a large bathroom remodel.

It didn't take very long starting out with my summer helper until I had to stop and explain the concept of "lead, follow, or get out of the way."

There is no perfect setup one way or another, I'd say its important to go after jobs that lend themselves to the manpower you have. There are plenty of times I could use another set of hands but often have to do without and figure out another way. But I've learned to take jobs that lend themselves to being a one man show.

I used to work for a remodeler that had 4 employees. He would split us up as needed. Sometimes we would all be together, sometimes we would go two, three, or even occasionally four ways each morning. The challenge is having enough tools and organization to pull that off.
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Old 06-11-2015, 11:24 AM   #9
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Re: How Many Is Too Many?


Have some well designed door hangers produced, printed and in a box in your truck.

When the level of frustration arrives when you need some space - send one, two or all of them out on foot to blanket the neighborhood for an hour or so.

Gives you a little "me" time plus it gets them out of sight while still being productive for the company.

Win - win
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Old 06-11-2015, 11:38 AM   #10
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Re: How Many Is Too Many?


The Paul McCartney song just popped into my head.
As far as I'm concerned, anybody besides me, myself, and I = too many people.
I used to have people working for me. I hated dealing with THEIR problems on my dime. I'm a good electrician, not a good babysitter. I'm amazed at how many grown adults want to show up to work and act like 1st graders.

Maybe you could jump into a more supervisory role and bounce between jobs. Otherwise, get rid of your worst one or two guys.
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Old 06-11-2015, 12:21 PM   #11
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Re: How Many Is Too Many?


Someone needs to take the bags off and run the job
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Old 06-11-2015, 12:48 PM   #12
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Re: How Many Is Too Many?


Based on room sq. ft.,
1 or 2 for a bath, 3 or 4 for a kitchen?
How many for a whole 1500 sq. ft. first floor remodel before you waste money or have increasing safety hazards?
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Old 06-11-2015, 01:11 PM   #13
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Re: How Many Is Too Many?


There is 4 to 5 of us, and we rarely work on 1 site. Usually 2 & 2 on remodeling. Bigger stuff like additions would be all of us. Punch out and paint 1 guy as we get the next one rolling. We usually have 3-5 jobs going at a time. I work 20-30 in the field and the rest is office.

Four guys on a kitchen would be brutal.
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Old 06-11-2015, 02:05 PM   #14
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Re: How Many Is Too Many?


Quote:
Originally Posted by Xtrememtnbiker View Post
How many guys on site at a time is too many? We have 4 employees including myself and most of the time we all work on the same job site. We do more interior remodeling than anything else but also a few decks and some exterior work such as siding, rot repair, painting, etc.

When you have 4 guys trying to work in a bath remodel or even a kitchen remodel, it always seems patio covers really crowded to me. It's hard to be efficient when you're constantly getting in the way of each other.

There is also the issue of different people having different levels of neatness and job site tidiness which leads to what feels to me like chaos.

Right now, I would love to be working by myself cause I'm frustrated at lack of space and all day yesterday someone being in the way. It feels so inefficient.

But realistically, what do you guys think? Two or maybe three guys on site at a time?
It would depend on how large the site is and also a variety of factors: whats the workload, what needs to get done? do you need to clean a house? do you need to repair or refinish the sink? does the driveway need to get powerwashed? do lightbulbs and fans need to be replaced? or are you installing the foundations of a new 150 apartment complex..?

I would say there is a variation that depends on your trust, level of comfort, and ability to communicate, with openness of course, with your crew. If you aren't able to talk to them about real life issues, and all of it is just work-related talk, then I'd say it would become mundane. however if you'are able to mix and match the conversations between important and work related to find some happy balance, then you should be okay.
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Old 06-11-2015, 03:39 PM   #15
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Re: How Many Is Too Many?


I work alone...I get pissed off when the siding guys show up!
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Old 06-11-2015, 06:40 PM   #16
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Re: How Many Is Too Many?


Quote:
Originally Posted by Californiadecks View Post
Someone needs to take the bags off and run the job
Mike's got a good suggestions here; having one guy as a director can help with efficiency - so long as they're up to the task. Done well, it's less ordering guys around and more making sure every cog is oiled as it needs it. The person filling this role can also grab the other end of a board when needed, or run and grab that drill bit from the truck.

Most days, we run a crew of three (myself included). My old man tends to pricing, valuations, materials, and general paperwork unless we need that extra pair of hands (and untold expertise). Other times, he's running a second job with subs and/or one of the guys (when only two of us are required). Other times, when we bring subs in and our two guys are at another job, I'll be there simply as the 'director' for the subs.
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Old 06-11-2015, 07:38 PM   #17
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Re: How Many Is Too Many?


Thanks to all the replies and feel free to keep going. I'm just reading and digesting.

Mike, just how much administration do you feel like is needed? It's rarely an issue of someone needing something to do. The more common problem is someone being in the way of someone else.

Current job is a kitchen remodel, removed paneling and hung drywall in an addition (existing) that is a family room and laundry room. Also did vinyl siding and wrapped trim in aluminum on the exterior of the two additions (brick house)

Today I was doing trim and the other 3 were starting painting two other rooms. All our tools were set up in the family room of the addition as well as all the new appliances. First thing was moving all that out on the deck. So I'm trimming the opening between kitchen and laundry room today. I had to build a custom step and make the jamb and casing. But I was dealing with lots of precision measurements for hitting a cabinet and other things.

There were 3 guys between me and my work station and wet paint. They were in my way, I'm sure I was in there way. So everybody had jobs, but we were slowing each other down.

Talked to Dad on the phone today about it briefly and found out that the past week or so when he's asked me if everybody was staying busy, he was wanting to know because there were other things we could put guys on. I just made the assumption without clarifying that he just wanted to make sure everybody was working so I said yes without elaborating.

It was a bit of bad communication between us that we will address.
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Old 06-11-2015, 09:47 PM   #18
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Re: How Many Is Too Many?


Quote:
Originally Posted by Xtrememtnbiker View Post
There were 3 guys between me and my work station and wet paint. They were in my way, I'm sure I was in there way. So everybody had jobs, but we were slowing each other down.
I've painted a few jobs like that, can be a real nightmare.

One job was four apartments, electricians came in ahead of schedule to set fixtures. One guy set up his ladder about 8 feet ahead of me while I was rolling. I was calm the first time I explained how it was going to work, but by the fourth unit of the same bullchit I was ready to smack him.

Same guy took off his tool belt for lunch and rested it against a door I had just sprayed out with the HVLP. Why he wanted to keep his tools in my spray room is beyond me. I guess nobody else has chocolate brown overspray on their tools, good way to ID them.

Sometimes I just take an early lunch by myself and then organize the tools/clean for a half hour to give others a good chunk of time to get out of my way, usually buys me some breathing room and gets me out of the chaos for long enough to get my head on my shoulders. Just gotta remember to buy a really big coffee if you take lunch early enough. Doesn't pan out on the really cramped and crowded jobs, though.
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Old 06-13-2015, 03:38 AM   #19
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Re: How Many Is Too Many?


For bathrooms I can't imagine having a crew on site. Generally I do those alone. I might someone to come over one evening and help me get the tub or shower unit in the house. Other than that. Stay the freak out of my way or you'll be nothing but a high spot in the floor/wall/ect.

Kitchens are pretty much the same. You need a helper on cabinet/counter days other than that......
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Old 06-13-2015, 05:51 AM   #20
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Re: How Many Is Too Many?


I'd think you could keep 4 guys going doing a bath and kitchen at the same time, but even then that's one guy schlepping 100% of the time.

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