October 12, 2005
Red tape clogs the construction industry
Why are there so many government agencies and so much
red tape associated with building almost anything?
Integrity, or the lack thereof, seems to explain the
increasing number of regulations established to monitor
the construction industry. The logjam of our court system
is related to the gigantic number of lawsuits arising
from conflicts between those in the construction trades
and their clients, many of whom become ex-clients. Misunderstandings
aren't the same as misrepresentations. Delays are different
from deliberate slowdowns. Incompetence and construction
sloppiness risk lives and waste time and money. Politicians
and civil servants feel pressure to refine and extend
regulations, sometimes damaging the free market in the
Given the steady growth of the construction industry,
it's not surprising that rules and regulations have been
compounding. Monitoring construction is a critical government
responsibility because it involves safeguarding people
and protecting them from fraud and abuse.
When plumbing fails because of faulty equipment or
incompetent installation, and it isn't fixed in a timely
manner, what recourse does the customer have but to turn
to the government? When property owners ignore proper
standards, what choices do frustrated neighbors have
but to seek legal sanctions? Unfortunately, the 6 percent
who cause the majority of the problems make life tough
on everyone. Pieces of wood that should match and don't
are painted to hide a problem, creating a fraud. Structural
defects, which might later cause damage or even death,
are masked in the name of coming in on time and within
budget. The list goes on.
Government employees realistically assume the worst
and seek to police the entire construction process from
planning to final approval. Then, when these same agencies
discover they were yet again conned by the cunning, they
redouble their efforts to control the situation.
This creates a widening circle of stifling red tape.
Predictably, sincere and dedicated government bureaucrats
cause the "building regulations" gauntlet to
become increasingly frustrating and unpleasant. However,
there is a rock-solid solution: integrity-centered behavior.
It should be common knowledge that free markets, including
the construction industry, must operate in a culture of
compliance or face increasing government oversight. But
legitimate oversight is not license for regulatory abuse.
A free-market economy prospers, even better, with integrity-centered
partnerships that foster honest communication and build