Building Systems Provide Cost Advantage in Down Market
In today’s tough housing market, builders are increasingly discovering the advantages of building systems in which all or part of the home is constructed in a factory setting, according to industry experts from NAHB’s Building Systems Councils participating in a press conference at last month’s International Builders’ Show in Orlando.
Builders are finding that systems can serve multiple markets — from first-time-buyer to luxury, custom homes — and the product is inherently “green,” an important draw for consumers, said Charles Bevier, editor of Building Systems magazine.
According to the Wood Truss Council of America, sales of factory-made housing components have more than doubled since 1992, now topping $12 billion annually. A similar trend has occurred in Japan, Bevier said, where building systems grew by as much as 52% between 1990 and 2000 in the face of an aging population and job-site labor shortages.
Jerry Rouleau, president of J. Rouleau and Associates LLC, a systems-built industry consulting firm based in Terryville, Conn., said that consumers are benefiting from systems as well.
“Buyers are embracing the concept of systems-built housing because of its quality, customization and design,” Rouleau said. Also, it enables homes to be built more quickly, yielding savings on financing.
Data show that 25% to 30% of all new housing in the United States now uses systems-built technology.
“In the current challenging housing market, builders are forced to work smarter to remain profitable,” Bevier said, and systems building can help them stay competitive by keeping construction costs down.
Building housing components in a controlled manufacturing plant reduces waste, construction time and exposure to the weather. The final product can also be stronger than traditionally built housing, enabling it to stand up to extreme weather.
The concrete side of the systems-built industry is poised for profit, said Ed Sullivan, chief economist for the Portland Cement Association. The basic “green” advantages of concrete, he said, will give the building material a significant boost in market share when the new home market regains its full strength in 2010, and population and economic growth are expected to help keep housing demand strong through 2030.
For more information on the Building Systems Councils — including concrete, log, modular and panel construction — click here.