Industry Trends8 min

Building Smarter Starts With Smashing Silos

One of the most vexing problems in home construction is that productivity isn’t rising fast enough – even though there are fabulous productivity tools everywhere you look.

Making a process lean and efficient isn’t always the answer, according to John Murphy from the consulting firm FMI. Sometimes a process can be scrapped entirely, which in turn causes productivity to soar. But it can only happen when all the key stakeholders – developers, designers, manufacturers and builders – tear down their respective silos and start collaborating more effectively. 

At a recent HIVE workshop, Murphy encouraged attendees to take a wider look at the four cornerstones of project management: cost, schedule, performance and risk. “When a manufacturer first introduced sheetrock several decades ago, it completely eliminated the need for the plastering trade,” says Murphy. “Almost overnight, there was no need for special training – and jobs could be done much faster at a lower cost. It would have been silly to try to make old-style plastering ‘leaner’ or more efficient because the new material eliminated that process completely.”

Any time that one stakeholder reduces another’s risk – or helps cut cost and speed the schedule – the entire value chain benefits. This can happen through product innovation that removes steps from the process or quickens the application or installation. “Efficiency – in all of its forms – is a priority at LP,” says Marcelle Lacy, LP’s Senior Corporate Brand Manager for OSB and EWP. “With our new LP® WeatherLogic® Air & Water Barrier, builders install protection they can count on in less time while enhancing the home or building’s energy efficiency.”

Sometimes a tech breakthrough seems like a great idea, but may not be truly necessary. “A great example is whether or not to invest in augmented reality (AR) tools to aid workers with installation,” says Murphy. “If a builder isn’t thinking holistically, that probably makes a lot of sense. But what if the developer decides to build the homes in an off-site facility? That investment in AR training may not be needed because the crew isn’t framing the house on-site.”

Murphy acknowledges that most manufacturers and builders don't wake up in the morning thinking "What can I do to help my partners in the value chain?" But empathy and collaboration can ultimately benefit everyone in homebuilding, from beginning to end. "Sometimes the shared interests are easy to identify," he says. "In the case of off-site manufacturing, many municipalities have been slow to see the value in doing code approvals in the factory rather than on the job site. But all the stakeholders benefit if faster code approvals help shorten the schedule and make homes more affordable."

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Business Advice6 min

On the Cutting Edge of Cost-Cutting

There are only two ways to boost your bottom line: increase revenue and cut costs. In this blog, we'll explore innovative ways for builders to cut costs in order to increase homebuilder profit margins - and we'll examine revenue enhancement in a future post.

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Industry Trends6 min
Where the Construction Labor Shortage Is Most Severe

According to the latest American Community Survey from the U.S. Census Bureau, about 4 million people now work in residential construction (both single-family and multifamily) - down from the 5 million who were employed just before the Great Recession. Although the workforce has shrunk by 20 percent nationwide, some parts of the country are experiencing less pain than others. Similarly, light commercial construction has been reportedly back on the rise post-Recession, with IBISWorld reporting that the recovery started just before 2014 and continuing steadily through 2019 (source).

Industry Trends7 min
A Commitment to Product Availability

It's frustrating when factors outside of your control cause you delays or unexpected expenses during a project. Those factors could be weather delays, insufficient staffing, breakdowns in cash flow and unreliable product availability. LP devotes significant resources each year to ensure that its product availability is second to none. Because even the most innovative building solution is useless to customers unless they know that it's available when they really need it.

Business Advice10 min
How to Prevent Lap Siding from Buckling by Using a Butt Joint

It's a silly name, but a "butt joint" is an application technique where two pieces of material are "butted" up against each other. It is the simplest joint to make, and a butt joint can be either end to end or end to face. Depending on the width of the wall, butt joints will occur where two pieces of lap siding come together, creating a vertical seam. LP® SmartSide® lap siding products are available in 16' lengths, and can help reduce the amount of seams where a butt joint would normally occur when using shorter pieces.