The housing industry is changing everyday while building product companies seem stuck in the past. Rather than being out in front of these changes they are focused on the status quo. These manufacturers may also be surprised when an existing or new competitor has developed a solution to meet the needs of the new housing market and left them behind.
Here are a few of the changes that are happening in housing
1. More automation
Automation may have started with trusses and mobile homes but it is expanding as the housing industry continues to look to reduce waste and become more efficient. As material and labor costs continue to rise, increased efficiency and waste reduction are two of the only areas left to improve builder margins.
Panelized manufacturers such as Blu Homes continue to grow. Engineering firm, ARUP is building a 32 story residential building from modular components that are assembled off site. This enables them to shave 10 months off of what would normally take them 28 months to build.
For the most part these imaginative firms are seeking out products and developing solutions on their own. A forward thinking building products company would be engaging with these firms to see how they can be a proactive part of these changes.
2. Changing households
Married straight couples now make up less than half of US households. There are now lots of single men and women households with and without children. There are more gay couples living together. These new households want different features in their houses. Most manufacturers don’t have a clue what they are.
Builders are facing these changes everyday. A smart manufacturer would be exploring these changes alongside their builder customers.
3. Aging in place
As more people choose to stay in their homes as they age they will need changes to be made to their homes. Or if they downsize they will want these changes built in. Once again it’s an opportunity that most manufacturers are ignoring or assuming it’s not large enough to worry about.
4. More renters
The percentage of people who rent is growing. It’s also a new type of rental market where investment firms own thousands of homes, not to flip them, but to be in the business of renting homes. More higher income people are choosing to rent instead of owning.
People choose to rent for many reasons such as freedom to relocate for a job or having less faith in the appreciation of a home. Whatever the reason, there is a new customer with needs that are different than a single-family homebuilder.
Manufacturers should be calling on these new customers to see how they can better meet the needs of rental housing owners and developers.
5. More people working from home
Whether they are start up entrepreneurs or a corporate employee working from home, there are more people working from home. It’s easy to simply make the assumption that they just need a space to make a home office.
If you look deeper you’ll see there are many ways to make a home function better for those who work at home. And the companies that delve into these areas will help themselves and their builder customers to be more successful.
It doesn’t matter whether a manufacturer makes drywall or toilets or siding, these changes in housing all mean opportunity for those who take the time to look into the future. Unfortunately most building product manufacturers live in the present until they are forced to change.