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Sticks and Stones

In a most ironic twist, it seems that the recent explosion in the price of softwood lumber may be the factor that, once and for all, moves the U.S. housing industry into the 21st Century. 

The ridiculously outdated practice of stick framing the vast majority of new homes in this country could finally be on the verge of circling the drain to oblivion, where it would join the horse and buggy, along with the phone booth.

Imagine the panic of the industry dinosaurs and their special interest advocacy organizations as they are forced to wake to the realization that the price-crutch they’ve been hobbling on all these decades is being pulled out from under them and that they are in danger, at long last, of being dragged kicking and screaming into the age of advanced building science, innovative building systems, and technology.  

construction-19696_640As they scramble from one federal agency to another in their efforts to preserve whatever is left of the status quo to prop up their profit-driven, lowest common denominator business model, they remain blind to the opportunity to truly make American housing the envy of the world, the false claim they have trumpeted for so long.

As hard as it is to imagine, there are still many parts of the world where people are forced to use whatever materials are available to piece together some kind of basic shelter.  Mud, sticks, rocks, salvaged chunks of whatever they can lay their hands on, become components in their desperate attempts to provide even the most primitive protection from the elements and provide a tiny bit of security for themselves and their families.  

Shamefully, right here in our own country there are pockets of populations who still survive without electricity, running water, or basic sanitation.  The industry has forever turned a blind eye to these unfortunate folks and considered them little more than outliers to be kept in the shadows when celebrations of success and prosperity are offered up as the image builders want to share with the world.

Frankly, in spite of all the great home building and home builders out there, the standard of the industry remains an embarrassment in many cases.  Too many homes are still built to the absolute minimum allowable requirements and with materials and methodologies that belong to a previous century.  It can be attributed to price centric business models, fear of change, or just plain laziness.  Whatever the case, the home buyer and renter are entitled to our best efforts.

I’m hopeful that the lumber price crisis forces the industry to raise the floor and the standard of living along the way.  Maybe more builders will finally see the need to re-examine their way of doing things and embrace the opportunities to explore all the resources available to us, paving the way to a better built environment for everyone.  

Fortunately, there are growing numbers of builders who don’t need an external crisis like the price of lumber to compel them to look for better solutions.  They are already producing superior results and continually seek ways to improve in every aspect of their work.  Here’s hoping they will lead us into a new day for the building industry, one we can all be proud to be part of.

Image by PublicDomainPictures from Pixabay