Tag Archives: home construction

Building Product Manufacturers & BIM

11 Oct

Kolbe Millwork’s New Collection of BIM files on Autodesk Seek

Are you prepared for the shift in technology to BIM?

For decades, blueprints have been the way houses are built. An architect or builder creates them. The future homeowner reviews and has changes. New blueprints are created again. Then, the trades all have their turn at reviewing, offering up suggestions and identifying conflicts as best as possible. As a manufacturer, you hope your products are specified by someone along the way, provided you have your products available in the right file format(s). By the time all the stakeholders have had their say, the blueprint can be, at worst, a confusing, conflicting mess and, at best, a huge time expense for the architect or builder.

Imagine this alternate scenario: an architect or builder creates the new home using 3D architectural software and outputs a single, simplified file. That file is sent to each of the trades and to the dealer for materials estimates. Using compatible software, each stakeholder identifies conflicts and offers their input in their area of expertise. All that input is utilized by the software and the architect or builder to get to a final, conflict-free design that is presented to the homeowner. Rather than having to imagine what their home will look like from 2D blueprints, the homeowner can virtually walk through the entire thing, offering their input and seeing their various options. The result: a single, simplified design file and a home built more efficiently, with less conflicts, less waste and on-the-job changes, and a happier homeowner.

That scenario may seem far off, but it’s not. It’s the way commercial buildings have been built for over a decade, and it’s finally starting to become reality for residential construction as well. It’s called Building Information Modeling (BIM), and here’s what you should be thinking about, as a manufacturer:

  • Make sure your products are BIM-ready: This means having your products available in Autodesk® format files. As the dominant platform for BIM, Autodesk’s file format (DWG) is the one everyone has to conform to. Autodesk has also built a web resource called Autodesk Seek (http://seek.autodesk.com/) that serves as a BIM product library for architects, engineers and builders. The majority of products are commercial-focused currently, but manufacturers like Marvin Windows have their products in place.
  • Make sure your customer service department is ready: You’ve got experienced customer service people on staff, but are they prepared to answer questions from architects about file formats and utilizing your products in BIM software?
  • Actively marketing to architects? Besides the obvious, manufacturers can gain a lot of credibility with architects by offering continuing education units (CEUs). All architects need to get these to maintain certification, and it’s a great way for manufacturers to get in front of them. Presentations can be online or in person, but must be completely brand-neutral. Therma-Tru is a great example of a manufacturer that’s done this for years.

As great as all of this sounds, there’s still a lot of adoption that needs to be done prior to BIM being commonplace. It won’t surprise you to know that many builders, architects and other stakeholders aren’t ready to spend the time and money learning a very different way to design homes. However, the benefits from adopting BIM as part of the process are too great to ignore, and the market will shift, though slower than some would like. When that shift finally happens, do you want to be the manufacturer playing catch-up, or the one that is trained and ready to take full advantage?

For more information on BIM, check out these resources:

Increased Potential of the Green Building Products Market

3 Apr

The Green Home Market Is Expected To Increase Five-Fold by 2016

It seems now more than ever, going green is important to consumers, which makes the building products industry a prime market to target. As a building products CMO, you are likely focused on this growing trend, but the key statistics from McGraw-Hill Construction give us even more of a reason to strive to reach the next level of eco-friendly products.

Going Green

The study showed much anticipation for green building products over the next few years.  It seems, homebuyers are going green for not only higher quality products, but also reduced energy costs. With the price to ‘go green’ declining, it is predicted the green home market is expected to grow from 17% in 2011 up to 38% in 2016 – a 21% increase in five years.

With homebuyers and homeowners wanting what’s best for the environment, it’s no surprise that a lot of builders and remodelers are starting to gear products towards green marketing, but should we all jump on the green building products’ bandwagon?

I think green marketing is the way to go with the green home market increasing and the benefits of going green being positive. 46% of builders and remodelers are finding it a competitive advantage to market themselves as green while 71% of green building firms report it easier to market in a down economy.

McGraw-Hill Construction Statistics

In addition, I think builders, and us alike, know consumers will pay more for green homes. The study shows by 2016 green builders and remodelers show much anticipation:

  • Builders expect to be dedicated to more than 90% of green building projects
  • 33% of builders predict to be dedicated to green work
  • 22% of remodelers speculate to be dedicated to green work, triple the 8% in 2011

With the green home market expected to increase five fold in the next few years, it’s essential to look into your strategic initiatives and ensure ‘green’ is a part of your plan.

To read more: Green Homes to Grow Five Fold

Panelized Homes: The Next Big Thing for the Building Industry?

22 Feb

An example of panelized construction (thanks to Blenker Companies for the image)

Can you really build 3x the amount of homes with the same labor force? Last week at the International Builders’ Show (IBS), I attended a presentation by Jason Blenker of Blenker Companies, Inc about panelized construction and it’s got me intrigued.

So we’re clear, here’s a good definition from Castlegate Homes of what panelized construction means:

The entire house super-structure or “shell” consisting of component parts (wall panels with integrated insulation, roof trusses, floor systems, and optional windows and exterior doors) are built and installed in a controlled, automated factory and then transported to the building site for final assembly according to the house blueprints.

This is different than modular construction (which I’ll cover in another post), but why is this any better than traditional stick-building? Jason’s analogy was this:

“Ford builds a good truck. But how good of quality would that truck be if they sent a mechanic to put it together in your driveway?”

Here’s a few additional reasons panelized construction makes so much sense for builders:

  • Projects are planned in advance, usually using 3D BIM technology, which allows all parties involved to collaborate before the construction starts.
  • A panel factory can cut lumber up to an accuracy as good as 1/16” – you won’t find many framers that can do that on a jobsite.
  • A typical 2000 sq. ft., 3 bedroom, 2-car garage home can be completed, from digging the foundation to homeowner occupation, in as few as 62 days.
  • That home can go from foundation-only to completely enclosed in 2.5 days with only a 3-man crew and a crane on the jobsite.
  • The construction waste from those 2.5 days was small enough to fit in a 55 gallon garbage can.
  • There’s no limit to how “custom” a home can be when you build with panelized. To prove that point, I saw photos of a 30,000 sq. ft., $20 million home that was built with panels from Blenker’s factory.
  • The price is comparable to traditional stick framing, when all factors (materials, labor, waste, extra deliveries, time delays, weather-related issues, callbacks, etc.) are considered.

In 2010, less than 5% of new homes in the US were built with panelized construction. It seems this is a trend just perfect for the future of our industry. What’s stopping us from considering this different approach?

Additional Information: