For the last several years Scott Sedam and I have been spreading the word about Lean design. Lean design is based on creating home designs that maximize marketability and profit while reducing construction waste. This is done through a collaborative design approach that involves the builder and the building team (including sales) as well as the builder’s trades and suppliers. It is a design approach that focuses on cost reduction while increasing aesthetics and overall amenities.
Initially builders thought that Lean design was just a new version of value engineering. They suspected that Lean design achieved such massive reduced construction cost by robbing the home of amenities. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Sadly value engineering became less a way to intelligently reduce cost and more of a chop shop approach to architecture and building. Cut, cut, cut, until customers lose interest, and then try to lure them back by putting tile back in the bathrooms.
Not surprisingly the first builders to take advantage of Lean design were those focused on smaller square footage and offering homes to first time buyers. These builders realize that every penny counts and are looking hard for ways to stay competitive. However as the word spread that Lean design saved thousands of dollars per house while making the homes more attractive and marketable, things started to change rapidly. Builders involved in every market (including high end) began taking advantage of Lean design. This changed the Lean design builder profile from starter home builder - to any home builder. After all, who doesn’t like increasing their margins?