Building Systems Background
If you’re a member of the main stream press looking for a good story angle, then you’ll soon discover that the building systems industry has a fascinating tale for your readers and viewers. The vast majority of homes built today are constructed the same way they were 100 years ago–i.e., in the mud by craftsmen who may or may not be talented, qualified or even sober.
But that’s only the beginning of the challenges facing today’s home builders. This industry offers unparalleled opportunities to look like a chump while taking a financial beating in front of witnesses. Like no other profession, builders have to overcome and adapt for countless variables that crop up when you are imposing order on the chaos of the natural world with workers who often have no formal schooling in their chosen profession. Turning a raw building site into a healthy indoor environment is a skill in organization and management that would completely defeat most on Wall Street.
Despite low interest rates, buyers have been made cautious by world events. No-growth advocates on local planning commissions can turn a buyer’s dreams of a new home into dust. Attorneys are busy spinning mold into gold. The quality of materials, particularly lumber, and the quality of work performed by inexperienced workers are diminishing, increasing callbacks and eroding profits still further. Delays from weather, as this winter once again proved, can turn a building schedule on its head. Building materials can be subject to shortages, delays and poor quality. Then thereâs the problem of finding and keeping talented workers to install these materials, which is only getting worse as generations X and Y choose desk jobs over the cyclical nature and hard physical labor of home building. Increased costs for insurance and litigation are taking a larger bite. Thus, builders and their clients are often victims of complex conditions beyond their control, which is increasing the cost of housing and pushing the American dream farther out of reach for the majority of Americans.
That’s why more and more independent builders are turning to building systems technology to enable them to work smarter, not harder. By employing a building system, builders have discovered they can control their own destiny. They can increase their profits while enjoying drastic cuts in overhead, capital investment, crew sizes and cycle times. Many have also discovered to their delightthat becoming a systems builder doesn’t mean losing your individuality or limiting the designs you offer buyers. Simply put, by adopting a building system contractors can gain control over the many variables that plague conventional site building.
If you are unfamiliar with building systems, it offers builders the control that comes with constructing residential or commercial structures in a factory setting and then transporting them to the building site for placement on a permanent foundation and final finishes. This magazine focuses mainly on log, modular, panel and structural insulated panel (SIPs) building systems. Since factory construction and site preparation take place simultaneously, structures are finished and ready for occupancy in weeks, rather than months or years as required by traditional site-building schedules.
By centralizing the construction process in a factory setting, system manufacturers add technology to a builder’s tool belt. In the controlled environment of the factory, precise design is coupled with computerized cutting to create structures that arrive on your job site square, straight and true and engineered to stay that way. You will find that by using a systems manufacturer as your largest subcontractor, you can build with confidence again and take the guesswork out of design, marketing, engineering and completion times.
In many markets, contractors find that using a building system can save 10% to 30% when compared with traditional site building. Much of this is due to the economies of scale that come with buying building materials in bulk and less job-site pilferage. Other savings come in the form of highly reduced job-site waste, with builders saving costly tipping fees as well as the man hours it takes to clean up. Another advantage is that systems manufacturers guarantee package prices for a far longer period of time than lumber retailers, ensuring a firm bottom line for you.