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Making It Theirs

Housing 2.0 participants have quickly grasped the hands-on information aspect of the program and optimized their home designs in a charrette-type format. Read how the program is going and secure your spot for new workshops forming for fall.

As the Program Manager for the Housing 2.0 program hosted by Green Builder Media and led by Sam Rashkin, I’m afforded a front row seat for some fascinating discussions involving very smart, forward-thinking building professionals. All of these discussions are under the guise of what the residential construction industry will look like in the next decade. 

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Now, I know what you might be thinking: “Homebuilding and the housing industry in general don’t change very much.” It’s hard to argue with that, and we’ve even seen imagery during our workshops that support that statement. However, the truth is there have been some changes. The question that lies before us is: How much more will it change, and how fast?

That answer, in my opinion, will be determined in three ways:

First, how much and how soon will home buyers demand new designs, products and techniques? 

Next, builders often say they’ll meet their clients’ demands. But there are times when builders talk their clients out of something new because the builder is uncomfortable changing their established ways. 

Finally, will manufacturers continue to innovate and push the envelope? Will they meet the increasing chorus from younger home buyers for more sustainably minded products?

Modular Construction In the Spotlight

After witnessing eight workshops (as of press time), I’m encouraged that we will start to see a shift in residential construction. Why? The Housing 2.0 program participants have not been hesitant to lead the discussions in the direction(s) they want. Of all the topics that could have caught the attention of our Q1 workshop participants, they wanted to delve into manufactured housing. We talked about everything from the old Sears catalogs of yesteryear to the factory-built housing in Sweden

The benefits are evident: Homes constructed in climate-controlled, weather-protected factory conditions with the help of precision technology, reducing (but not eliminating) on-site construction, faster assembly times, less waste, etc. Are there enough of these factories to sufficiently service the United States? Not yet, but that could change with the proper investment and strategic location targeting.

Ideas to Improve Indoor Air Quality

Meanwhile, the conversations in Q2 have predominantly been centered around indoor air quality (IAQ). This has always been of some interest to home buyers and homeowners, but it’s usually found down on the list of priorities. The obvious exception is when someone in the family suffers from asthma or serious allergies. 

However, since the pandemic really went into full effect (in the United States) in March 2020, indoor health has been of heightened interest to homeowners and homebuyers alike. With COVID-19 being a respiratory illness, this has put the spotlight squarely on IAQ measures like monitoring. 

Thankfully, with sponsors like Panasonic and Mitsubishi at the ready, the participants have been able to ask them both what is out there in the market, and what’s coming in the near term, to address this timely and important facet of construction. 

Personally, I hope the sponsors appreciate the unabashed comments from the participants. I’m not sure how they could get more open and honest feedback on what’s being used (and not used) by some of the most advanced building professionals in the industry.

Construction Project Charrette

Finally, in our first two Action Group meetings, they’ve been holding very in-depth discussions about optimizing their respective home designs. It’s a group critique/analysis that each of the participants wouldn’t normally be able to access. 

The meetings have spurred some great discussions on block design, flexible designs, natural lighting, passive solar, and more. All of this occurred after the participants did a self-assessment to help them focus their priorities ... and weed out the things that didn’t matter as much to them/their clients.

Success is often copied, so if other production and custom home builders see that something is working well for progressive builders like the ones attending Housing 2.0, I would think (hope?) that they’d start paying attention and also change their ways. 

I think, deep down, we all know we can build homes in a better way. With the energy I’ve seen from the participants so far, and the way they take control of the direction, to me, it’s not if … it’s only a matter of when.

Learn more about the Housing 2.0 program and secure your spot for the new workshops starting this fall.