I just became acquainted with a very technical sounding term- Integrated Project Delivery (IPD). IPD is a construction industry term that means that the design and construction teams collaborate cooperatively to create a project to deliver to the client. This is something that we’ve been doing for years. IPD is a reaction to a loss in productivity in the construction economy related to wasted money and time due to current somewhat adversarial design and building procedures. It seems, as we’ve known all along, that Architects and contractors have finally figured out that working together, rather than against each other, delivers a better project to the client. The typical project scenario:Design-Bid-Build-Complain (DBBC) hasn’t produced happy clients, and has produced massive cost over-runs, litigation, and ill-will for projects in both the public and private sectors of the economy. This comes as no surprise-imagine what automobiles would be like if one company designed them, then another company bid out the designs, and a third company built the cars!! I think we can all agree that would be disastrous! Well, that’s what stands for typical in construction. IPD is a way for construction to move away from those roots, and into the world that all other producers of goods live in-customer-centric and delivery based. We’ve been operating IPD and didn’t even know it for over 20 years! There we are- at the cutting edge of our industry-just by using Common Sense (CS)!!
The latest figures show a sharp dropoff in applications for new mortgages in the quarter ending March 31st (http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-04-14/lending-plunges-to-17-year-low-as-rates-curtail-borrowing.html ). As a builder, rising rates are always bad, and for borrowers the higher rates mean higher costs and payments. But the dropoff in applications might have a silver lining- namely it gives lenders a chance to get re-acquainted with a concept called Customer Service! Since the downturn in 2008, I have heard consistent comments regarding the total lack of customer service on the part of banks especially. The mortgage process, starting with applications and winding through appraisals and approvals, has become a draconian and serpentine (love the animal references!) pathway to purchasing-frustrating professionals and amateurs alike. There are seemingly no rules of common sense any more- the amount of paperwork required has grown exponentially, and the lackadaisical attitudes an the part of some participants is breathtaking. Appraisals, which used to take a week or so, are now assigned by kangaroo court and regularly command weeks of calling, reminders questioning and frustration. Loan committees now ask for the most arcane information about borrowers, leading me to wonder sometimes if you have to donate your brain before taking a banking job. Maybe a slowdown in work will help these people to re-focus on what is the only important relationship they need nourish- that with their customer!!
This morning I was called in for a consult on a home recently purchased by a person who was originally interested in a new home. The discussion we had reminded me of the ongoing debate of “new vs. used” and when it’s a good idea to buy and remodel and when it isn’t. When you buy an older home with an eye towards updating it or adapting it, it is crucial to keep in mind that the history of what has already been done in and with the home is going to severely limit your reasonable (note the term “reasonable”- we can do anything when there’s an unlimited budget!) options for making your changes. How plumbing was run, beams, ductwork, electrical wiring,framing, and finishes will all have an impact- and none of those things were installed thinking about what YOU might want, way after they were installed. When we design and build you a new home, we design and build it around what YOU want-not someone else. You get what YOU want right off the bat- not the adopted compromise based on what we might be able to wrangle out of a pre-existing set of conditions. So, if you really want that older home, but are thinking of making significant changes to it-talk to you builder first about what might be involved, and how feasible your changes are relative to your budget. It’s no fun finding out after you’ve bought something that features you really want or even need are going to cost a lot more than you bargained for!
So digital apps are the rage. Everything has to have an app. But, does it really make our life better? I’ll admit that some apps definitely do- checking the weather- getting news and things like that. Do I really need to navigate an IPhone or android app to turn on my stove? I’d rather the manufacturers make the controls on the stove so easy even a caveman can roast a turkey- don’t need it on a phone. Anyway, these thoughts bubbled up when I saw this article-http://www.proremodeler.com/kb-digital-integration-trends-0?eid=216498577&bid=836449 . Docking stations might be good, but building anything into your home that smacks of digital is a big gamble because these things change all the time. Music in the shower, maybe. I’ll still stick with a little peace and quiet for now…How about you?
Solar panels are definitely gaining ground in the US. The technology is evolving and getting better and cheaper per KW generated, and many companies are working on creating better batteries to store electricity generated and not used right away. The last few years there have been great programs from the State of Ohio and the US government to help defray the cost of deployment, but even with those programs being curtailed, solar generation is something that you might consider investing in-especially when power outages are becoming more and more prevalent. States like California and Hawaii are actually requiring solar cell installations on new homes-and while our sunny days are far too limited in OH, they aren’t zero-so keep on the lookout for the tipping point where cost meets value- it’s definitely coming our way!
The adoption of the 2009 building code last year introduced blower door testing to all new home construction starting this January. What’s a blower door test- well, a blower door is a contraption that blocks the front door and has a big fan in it. The tester turns the fan on and sucks air out of the house, measuring how much air comes back in through leaks and things like that. Couples with new insulation and building requirements, this means that new homes are tighter and more energy efficient than ever before. We’re finding energy use levels are about 30% lower in a home we built to the new codes vs. homes we built prior to the new code- which were already awesome sippers of energy! You can factor that savings into your monthly carry costs when you are thinking about how much a new home might cost every month-