Unlike the majority of industries that have changed over recent decades—mostly due to new technology—the processes for constructing a new home have not changed in more than 100 years—until now.
Up until this point, residential builders have followed a standardized set of building practices in order to produce reliable products while still containing costs and meeting nationwide building codes. Beginning with framing and working through the installation of doors, windows, roofing, siding and electrical, plumbing and HVAC fixtures, the steps taken have followed a consistent order and have all been conducted on the jobsite.
However, due to a variety of factors causing new home prices to skyrocket across the country, residential builders are seeking new ways to produce more cost-efficient products more quickly than ever before, without sacrificing quality and the amenities that homeowners value most.
What’s driving these changes?
For starters, the residential construction industry is facing a severe shortage of skilled laborers. Whether this shortage stems from younger generations being more interested in working with computers than doing manual labor outdoors, or the mindset of some young adults that they’ll only be successful if they earn a college degree, the lack of skilled workers has made it difficult for builders to fully staff job sites. Because of an increased demand for the workers who are available, pay rates for these roles have also skyrocketed, making the cost of hiring higher than ever before.
Another problem causing home builders headaches is a shortage of truck drivers who are able to deliver materials to job sites quickly, to keep construction crews on track to meet rapid deadlines. Delays in materials delivery can cause major setbacks for projects on tight schedules, which, in turn, delays the selling process.
Rising material costs are another cause for concern. These price increases stem from a variety of factors, including most recently the lumber tariffs that were imposed last December on softwood lumber products (spruce, fir and pine) coming from Canada. The current historic boom in new home construction in the U.S. has also led to a higher demand for materials, making them more difficult to obtain quickly from regular suppliers. With lot costs also rising, the demand for less expensive home options has also increased, especially close to major metro areas.
While not a be-all, end-all solution, new building techniques can increase the speed of construction while reducing the cost of the final product and the number of skilled workers necessary to complete it.