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Thread: Is there much work for welders in the home building sector?

  1. #1
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    Is there much work for welders in the home building sector?

    Hello, Iíve asked a few questions here and have another! I follow other local metal fabricators near me, and it seems some do a lot of work for home builders like custom lally columns and steel beams.

    Iíd like to break into this sort of work, because itís honestly, generally easy work and Iíve done it before at a company I worked for. But how do you, yourself market yourself that way? I was thinking of straight up emailing local contractors and home builders to say what I do and my experience and if they have a job that calls for it, that I can do it.

    I know with engineered wood and what not, there isnít always a need for steel, but it doesnít hurt to ask and see who actually does this and how you do it.

    Thanks!

  2. #2
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    Re: Is there much work for welders in the home building sector?

    I'm a former Superintendent for a company that did a lot of residential work and we also built homes. I'd take care of the occasional residential welding jobs but they were few and far between. I can only speak for my experience. However, I often used welders on the commercial side to replace/install handrails, repair or build steel stairs, ballards, etc. The insurance burden on the commercial side is significant as I saw because they'd work under us and we had the vendors expectations to meet. I hope this helps.

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  4. #3
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    Re: Is there much work for welders in the home building sector?

    In 15 years of doing this on my own, I could count on one hand the number of residential jobs I've gotten calls for, and only two of them were new construction. One was a handicapped ramp and the other was a half-day's worth of basement column installation. The remainder were miscellaneous wrought-iron repairs to rusted-out handrail bases and stuff like that.

    But I also don't actively look for residential work, I *much* prefer industrial / commercial.

    I believe your original question was more towards how to break into the market as opposed to whether there's a market, and to that I'd say that nothing replaces a face-to-face meeting, scheduled ahead so you're not interrupting something more important than you. Emails and texts and such have their places, but a phone call is better and a visit (depending on how you and your potential customer feel about COVID) is betterer. It takes time and gas money and frankly, guts, to do cold calling but next to word-of-mouth and possibly an online presence where the customer finds you on their own, it's best.

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  6. #4
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    Re: Is there much work for welders in the home building sector?

    Breaking into the market is as simple as getting your face out there. You could talk to 100 contractors and never land a single gig because a lot of contractors simply don't think about welding and ironwork unless the architect or inspector tells them they need metal for reinforcing or the like.

    Or, you could be flooded with jobs that need doing last week.

    Depends on your specific area.

    If there's a Trade Show in your area, attend it. Hand out business cards, shake hands, get to know people. Networking is everything.

    Find someone to build you a website so folks can look up your work as easily as possible. Make it super-simple, just a click of the button so they can see your work and that you're serious about what you do. If I want you do weld something for me.... do I have to drive 40 miles to find you working out of your basement, in a crappy neighborhood? If that is your situation, make a nice website and let that be your calling card. Folks see the nice website, the quality of your work, and think right away that you're not some fly-by-night operation or an insurance risk.

    Insurance is a very big thing, so be sure to talk with a professional before you start putting your work out there. If something goes wrong, even if it's not your fault, you can expect everyone above you to be looking for a scape-goat. Don't be that guy!

    Certifications -- get them and maintain them. You don't want to be seen as just some yokel who can glue metal bars together. If you aren't certified by some kind of school to do a particular type of welding.... don't do that kind of welding.

    Don't ever fear turning down a job no matter what anyone says. I turn down jobs all the time. Even something as simple as welding up a big spider out of scrap metal gets turned down. I don't know why people want spider art, but I'm not making it. Don't care what anyone else does, but I think they're disgusting creatures to begin with and I sure as hell's hot ain't going to spend my time welding up a bunch of parts to make a facsimile of a disgusting critter like that!

    Funny story -- every year I get at least one person email me to see about welding up some BDSM gear. Every year I decline the job. Yea, they might want custom kinky stuff and that "hand forged" look, but I'm not the guy to go to for that. Great money, sure, but far too much risk of it being misused and someone getting hurt.... and then they'll send their lawyers after me. Nope. Thanks, but no thanks!

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  8. #5
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    Re: Is there much work for welders in the home building sector?

    Beams
    Ramps
    Railings
    Fixing rusted out lawn mowers

    That's about it in the residential sector. When I was young and dumb at 23, I thought there was work like this, but it's not profitable work.

    I am now mostly in the industrial sector and I am glad I changed.

    Sent from my SM-G960U using Tapatalk

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  10. #6
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    Re: Is there much work for welders in the home building sector?

    I was talking to a manager at a local fab shop and said they did about 30k a year in residential which sounds cool until you compare it to the couple million brought in from the commercial side. I'd estimate that 80% of the commercial work is the same product with slight variation. The fab shop has around 18 employees so it's different than a one man show but it gives perspective on where the money is.

    The Modern Craftsman podcast interviewed Matt Risinger and he talked about the importance of building relationships with architects. This way the architect can drive customers your way and you can get in on the planning stages. Matt isn't specifically a welder but I think there was advice in the podcast that could be applied to getting welding work.

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  12. #7
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    Re: Is there much work for welders in the home building sector?

    I have been doing it now for 15 years. Primarily in million dollar and up new builds and remodels. Just need to find a few general contractors who do the type of work you enjoy. Drive around new construction job sites and approach a few and see what they say. I have customers that come and go, but have had the same half dozen core general contractors for almost 15 years now.

  13. #8
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    Re: Is there much work for welders in the home building sector?

    The odds are there very little work at the home building.
    The steel required a licensed engineer.

    But there is a need for trailer and fence repair.

    Dave

    Quote Originally Posted by J93Welder View Post
    Hello, Iíve asked a few questions here and have another! I follow other local metal fabricators near me, and it seems some do a lot of work for home builders like custom lally columns and steel beams.

    Iíd like to break into this sort of work, because itís honestly, generally easy work and Iíve done it before at a company I worked for. But how do you, yourself market yourself that way? I was thinking of straight up emailing local contractors and home builders to say what I do and my experience and if they have a job that calls for it, that I can do it.

    I know with engineered wood and what not, there isnít always a need for steel, but it doesnít hurt to ask and see who actually does this and how you do it.

    Thanks!

  14. #9
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    Re: Is there much work for welders in the home building sector?

    I've been around some of the metal building contractors and the ones I've seen have their crews weld in the door frames etc, usually a little flux core wire welder.
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  15. #10
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    Re: Is there much work for welders in the home building sector?

    I've done that kind of work for almost 40 years. I enjoyed it but it certainly can't be the only kind of work you do. I've worked for lots of interior decorators and the money was good and they tend to pass your name on to others if they like your work. They work with home builders on the more expensive homes and will give your name to them. That is how I made all my home builder contacts.

  16. #11
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    Re: Is there much work for welders in the home building sector?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob View Post
    I've done that kind of work for almost 40 years. I enjoyed it but it certainly can't be the only kind of work you do. I've worked for lots of interior decorators and the money was good and they tend to pass your name on to others if they like your work. They work with home builders on the more expensive homes and will give your name to them. That is how I made all my home builder contacts.
    Of course, the creation of the decor is very jewelry work!

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