Lean Design is Infectious

July 15, 2011

Monday morning 6:30 a.m. Jeff the lead carpenter rolls out the latest set of prints for the new Thornberry model. He sighs as he scans the plans and elevations knowing it is going to be a long week piecing together his latest framing puzzle. He has worked for this builder for 3 years so he recognizes what he calls the Architects “greatest hits”, overly complex dormers, overhangs, and gingerbread details. He knows he will be framing this home at a loss in hopes that the next time he frames it he will realize a profit. “Same stuff different day” he mumbles and swallows the last of his now cold coffee.

 Imagine if Jeff was involved in the early stages of design. The builder calls Jeff in to tap into his vast knowledge and experience prior to the Architect creating construction drawings. Jeff explains to the team how minor changes to details can result in more efficient framing and save time and money for both he and the builder while still maintaining the integrity of the design. His ideas are not only received with cooperation but gratitude from the design team. His voice is heard finally! He leaves the office full of pride and looks forward to framing the new home he helped design. He tells his team about the experience and urges them to come up with their own creative ideas that will make future Thornberrys, Charlestons, Daltons, etc. more efficient and easier to frame.

 I have performed this operation time and time again with major trades and suppliers. When they are asked for their brain power instead of just their labor in a non threatening environment you can count on an outbreak that is contagious. Don’t bother with the antibiotics, though, this infection is worth its weight in gold.


Todd Hallett, AIA, president of TK Design & Associates has been designing award-winning homes for more than 20 years. He spent 15 of those years working for a $50 million production building company. Todd designed all of its homes but also worked in every other aspect of the company including purchasing, development, land acquisition, product development, and operations, and was president of the company for three years. Equipped with his vast building experience and fueled by his love for architecture he left to form an architecture firm that is second to none in working cohesively with builders. Todd specializes in Lean Design and works, alongside Scott Sedam of TrueNorth Development, in the trenches with builders, suppliers, and trade contractors. Todd welcomes your feedback at thallett@tkhomedesign.com or 248.446.1960.


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