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Is Innovation Impossible?

Updated: Feb 27

Builders are understandably cautious when it comes to anything that alters the spec list, requires a new supplier or installer, or might lead to warranty work and a bruised reputation.  


Innovation and change might be scary and risky, but they are also inherently ripe with opportunity. Those who have the vision to see beyond the horizon and have the conviction and confidence to bring real innovation to the homebuilding industry will own tomorrow’s world.  


Would it take the edge off if we told you that you didn’t have to innovate everything at once?   

A measured approach to using an alternative construction product, material or system certainly doesn’t eliminate risk, but done right, even in small doses, it can solve real problems, deliver better performance, improve homeowner satisfaction, and maybe even lower costs.  


As you look for alternative construction materials or methods, run them through this filter first:  

  • Does it solve a problem we’re actually experiencing, either on site or after occupancy?   

  • Do I understand it? Does my site super, lead carpenter, warranty service manager and sales manager understand it?   

  • Does the material allow for better performance as well as lend itself to easier design or installation?  

  • Is it, or will it be, readily available locally from a reputable source?  

  • Are there local people trained (ideally certified) to install it and/or is training offered?  

  • Does the economics make sense for the homebuilder and ultimately the homeowner… to the point of influencing their buying decision?  


Then look for ways to road-test it before you integrate it into your regular practices and systems. Maybe a model home or an in-house mock-up. Spend some time to evaluate an alternative material or method in a real-world context.  


And you don’t have to go it alone, either in learning curve or cost. Get the manufacturer and local supplier to share the expense, or even front it for you. If it’s that good, they should put some skin in the game… and also want to learn from it.   


The ultimate goal is to get your crews and managers familiar and proficient, allow time to gather and hone actual costs, and – not to be neglected – get your sales story straight. I mean, if you’re going to go to the effort to innovate, you’d better be able to sell it to a homebuyer and reap the value.  


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