Last month, I attended NAHB’s midyear meeting in Miami and had the pleasure of sitting in on a presentation by Daniel Swift, president and CEO of Des Moines-based architecture group BSB Design.
If one trend is sweeping production builders across the country, it is even-flow construction
If one trend is sweeping production builders across the country, it is even-flow construction. It might be one house per week, per day or per hour -- it doesn’t matter as long as homes are slotted into a schedule that sets a steady pace for production. The effect on quality and productivity of the trades has been monumental.
How It Works
Even-flow construction offers the benefits of factory efficiencies on the job site. Factory workers assemble products as they move down a production line. The same principles apply to even-flow construction as craftspeople move steadily down the street assembling homes.
"We release the same number of homes every week in every community," reports Ken Neumann, president of Neumann Homes, Illinois, a 1998 NHQ Award winner. "We’re very balanced in how we do things. Reliability, predictability and consistency are critical. We build our homes plus or minus a day, year-round."
Building speculative houses is not required to maintain even-flow production. Reduced costs allow these builders to offer compelling value, creating construction backlogs that feed the system.
Steady work and a highly productive working environment attract the best trade crews. A stable network of top-notch trades working together uses teamwork to refine the construction process for smooth, efficient operation. Commitment to the discipline required for the even-flow process is reinforced by benefits that everyone enjoys.
"With even-flow, you can staff almost one-third less people in the work force," says Pat Hamill, president of Oakwood Homes, Denver, a 1996 NHQ Award winner. "That’s how we were able to build a couple hundred extra homes this year with absolutely the same work force. Panelization wasn’t the key to building more homes with less labor; even-flow production is the key. Since we went to even-flow we cut our actual build time and improved our actual delivery dates over 35%."
With even-flow construction, office procedures also become much simpler. Slotting house starts sets the schedule for every phase of production. No juggling trades. Field superintendents are never stretched to the breaking point. Closings happen on a regular basis. Month-end madness becomes a thing of the past. Sanity rises from the chaos.
To learn more, request a free "Even-Flow Production" fax by calling the NAHB Research Center’s HomeBase Hotline at 800/898-2842.
America’s First ISO 9000 Registered Home Builder
Delcor Homes of Milford, Mich., received an ISO 9001 Certificate of Registration on Oct. 27, 1999. This certification makes Delcor the first U.S. home builder to have its quality management system independently audited by an ISO 9000 registrar and approved based on its rigorous compliance with the ISO 9000 series of international quality control standards.
Phil McCafferty, Delcor president, said, "We intend to share our materials with the National Association of Home Builders to help other builders." McCafferty will detail his experience in an NAHB Research Center educational seminar, "Advancements in Jobsite Quality," at 1 p.m. on Jan. 14 at the NAHB International Builders' Show in Dallas.