• Jess

Translating Affordable Housing into Another Language


I’ve never spoken a language other than English well enough to act as a translator, but I imagine the task is exhausting. Listening and interpreting what one person is saying, remembering exactly what they want communicated and then transforming it into a second language and relaying the information. There’s no room to add context or to add to the conversation, only hearing, translating, and repeating. The mental capacity to handle this while at the same time maintaining an attention span is a set of tasks I’m simply not built for.


These are just a few of the reasons why I’m surprised builders and subcontractors put as much work into translating quotes as they do (or at least say they do). No two material quotes for the same project are the same. They differ with materials, sizes, quantities, interpretations and mistakes. Yet, here are the builders and subs attempting to analyze competing quotes as if they have anything in common. The effort is painstakingly frustrating. I know, I’ve tried it. Line 5 on Page 1 from Dealer A may be the same item as Line 16 on Page 4 from Dealer B and a completely different line on a different page from Dealer C.



So what decisions do builders and subs make as a result? They go with their gut! They spread the papers out, take a look and make a decision based on all kinds of factors other than what makes the most business sense. This causes bloat in the price of materials and effectively increases the cost of construction, driving up the price of a new home. Big builders know this, and that’s why they’re implementing procedures like “total cost of ownership” to understand their own costs and their suppliers’ costs.


Small builders, and coincidentally the builders who build the majority of America’s housing, are left with increased costs for materials and are less competitive when compared to big builders. Need proof? Look at the record profits big builders and national material dealers have posted the last few quarters. Small builders are willingly putting themselves at a disadvantage through their own constraints of manpower and time.

What builders and subs need are better tools to equip themselves when dealing with material dealers. LBM provides two of those tools:


  1. Independent take off: One set of numbers to remove quantity discrepancies, interpretation errors and minimal mistakes with professional estimators.

  2. Uniform presentation: Side by side comparisons so decision makers know the true cost of choosing one dealer over another without hidden or forgotten items impacting bottom line decisions.


Smart builders and subcontractors are engaging LBM Supply adding efficiencies to their operations and lessening the mistakes they make in purchasing materials. LBM helps small builders and subcontractors become better businesspeople, saving them time and driving down their material costs. While LBM isn’t a human translator, you can think of us as your Google translator to make sense of the noise in building material supply!



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