If one trend is sweeping production builders across the country, it's even-flow construction. So, what, exactly, is even flow all about?
If one trend is sweeping production builders across the country, it is even-flow construction. It may 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 Even-Flow Works in Home Building
Even-flow construction offers the benefits of factory efficiencies on the jobsite. 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, in 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.
Results of Even Flow
"With even-flow, you can staff almost one-third fewer people in the work force," says Pat Hamill, president of Oakwood Homes, in 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.