Podcast Episode 120 — Is Building Homes a Worthy Pursuit?
Home improvement retailers, the labor gap, modular homes, custom vs tract builders, making a living wage, job-site productivity, and the future of building trades.
Justin, Brian, and Rob begin the episode talking about the J.D. Power 2018 Home Improvement Retailer Satisfaction Study. It ranks retailers by customer satisfaction, and the top-ranked LBM / hardware stores are Menards, Ace Hardware, and Lowe’s. Brian visited a Menards once, in South Dakota, and he had a favorable report as well.
Of stores the guys personally visit, Rob likes his local Ace store, while Justin goes to Lowe’s or Home Depot based on what he needs.
The guys also talk about a recent New York Times article on factory-based modular housing, and Brian accidentally makes a provocative joke. Speaking of provocative, here’s a controversial quote from the article:
“The construction productivity rate — how much building workers do for each hour of labor they put in — has been flat since 1945, according to the McKinsey Global Institute. Over that period, sectors like agriculture, manufacturing and retail saw their productivity rates surge by as much as 1,500 percent. In other words, while the rest of the economy has been supercharged by machines, computers and robots, construction companies are about as efficient as they were in World War II.”
The guys talk about the evolution of home building, what it means to be a craftsman, custom builders vs tract builders, Larry Haun, robot builders, and keeping craft alive. Rob and Brian duke it out over the role of custom builders in making both more and less expensive houses. And is building homes a worthy pursuit? Even if it is, will the building trades look anything like they do now in ten or twenty years?
On to listener questions … well, look at that! No time left for listener questions in this episode. We’ll have some next week for sure. But you can still check out the links at the bottom of this post for more. Like Rob interviewed on Tim Faller’s podcast.
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The Fine Homebuilding Podcast embodies Fine Homebuilding magazine’s commitment to the preservation of craftsmanship and the advancement of home performance in residential construction. The show is an informal but vigorous conversation about the techniques and principles that allow listeners to master their design and building challenges.
Links for this episode:
- J.D. Power 2018 Home Improvement Retailer Satisfaction Study.
- NY Times: Piece by Piece, a Factory-Made Answer for a Housing Squeeze.
- Larry Haun: One Carpenter’s Life (1931-2011).
- Video Vault: How to Raise a Wall, with Larry Haun.
- Larry’s 10 Rules for Framing.
- The Tim Faller Show.
- Rob is a guest on Episode 9 of the Tim Faller Show.
- Tom Cardillo and #KeepCraftAlive.
- The Many Faces of Prefab.
- Why Modular?
- All FHB podcast show notes: FineHomebuilding.com/podcast.
- #KeepCraftAlive tee-shirts support scholarships for building trades students. So go order some shirts at KeepCraftAlive.org.
- The direct link to the online store is here.