Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Housing Industry Needs to Reinvent

The housing industry (builders and designers) is in dire need of a new system / approach to building. I'll list a few reasons here:
  • Construction costs and land / development costs have gotten out of control in recent years.
  • The housing bubble has dramatically dropped the value of our homes.
  • The fact right now is that you cannot build a new home inexpensive enough to compete with the glut of existing homes on the market.
  • If we are seeing an economic recovery it's a small one - and the job market is not expected to improve for several years.
  • New buyers are having difficulty getting loans or do not qualify for enough loan to build the kind of house they might have a few years ago.
  • Home buyers are becoming much more aware of "value".
  • Home buyers are increasingly environmentally conscious.
  • Home buyers are more "hip" and expect good design and construction quality.
So what the people want is a really cool, sustainable, well constructed cheap house. Is anyone out there providing that? Or is this an impossible combination?

Indeed, times are tough and it is truly a time of survival of the fittest in the housing market. The housing industry needs to pull their collective head out of the sand and adapt. I believe that the industry needs to look at things fresh and perhaps create an entirely new business model.

In looking for new ideas I have looked to old ones. What about the old days when a fellow purchased a house from Sears Roebuck Company? The house was shipped to them and they built it themselves, or had local tradespeople construct it. Why did that business model go away? One reason I think is because people stopped being handy. They no longer had the skills to put anything together as complicated as a stick framed house. Even if they could it would take forever; and banks don't like that.

Enter a new system devised in Germany called HIB. HIB is a building block system that goes together like Lego's. They say that the simplicity and speed of putting the system together makes it an ideal candidate for an owner built project. The company also touts the product's insulating capabilities, sustainability and economy.
Sounds too good to be true honestly. But I am inviting a company representative in to discuss the product further. I'll let you know what I find out.













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