Home builders view manufacturers’ product innovations from a slightly different point of view. How can we be sure new products will stand the test of time, they ask. What about market acceptance, they wonder.
The disconnect between builders and their suppliers when it comes to new product technology is significant. On average, it takes more than 10 years for a new technology to be absorbed into the mainstream of housing, according to a study by the NAHB Research Center. A separate survey of 417 builders conducted at LeMoyne College found that those polled had adopted just 1.6 improvements out of a list of 10 changes in construction methods and materials.
To bridge this gap and put builders and manufacturers on the same page when it comes to new product technology, Professional Builder, with the NAHB Research Center, recently sponsored an industry roundtable on the subject in Tuscon, Az. Some of the issues addressed by builder and manufacturer participants were:
Builder Perspectives: One builder participant, Randy Luther, vice president of construction technology at Centex Homes, suggested that manufacturers consider new product development from a value perspective.
"Value is the same product at a better price. Value is a better product at the same price. Value is a better product at a better price. Value is not the same product at a higher price," explained Luther.
In considering new products, Luther outlined his review process. Key points in the process are:
After collecting this data, Luther compiles a final score that includes the impact of technology, the cost compared to current best practice and the customer benefit rating. Of all the material presented to Luther for review, fewer than 10 percent of the products receive a composite score that merits further action.
While the review process among custom and small-volume builders is less formal, it is no less intensive. Michael Mendelsohn, a custom builder in Scottsdale, Az , regularly uses new construction technology in his homes.
"It is a point of differentiation for me in the market," explained Mendelsohn. "My clients are very savvy and expect the most sophisticated products in their home."
Manufacturer Wants: More than anything, building material manufacturers participating in the roundtable discussion wanted:
"If I know I have a builder’s business for two years, I’m more likely to work with the customer to understand his business issues and find ways my company can help solve them," said Mike Ulinski, director - national builder sales for Masco Corp.