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We’re going through a big home remodeling and addition so I’ve gotten an up-close look at some of the new technologies being used in homebuilding. For example, with copper so expensive, builders are using sturdy plastic tubes now. They’re reliable, but they’re much cheaper than copper, lighter, more flexible (of course) and easier to work with. As a bonus, they’re color-coded, so you know which ones are for which purpose. (People who actually know about this stuff are invited to correct me on the above. Or I could just go home tonight and ask Rich Ragusa, our wonderful builder.)
That’s a long way of getting around to talking about a new study by Virginia Tech’s Center for Housing Research. Authors Theodore Koebel and Marilyn Cavell concluded that overall, builders are pretty slow to adopt new technologies. “Technologies and practices persist for long periods in homebuilding for various reasons, many still unknown,” they write.
The Va. Tech team focused on builders who put up more than 200 houses a year. They found that the biggest builders were the most innovative, on the whole. They heard builders complain that subcontractors and their own employees were resistant to adopting new technologies. The biggest builders were the most likely to complain that building codes impeded innovation and that using new technologies raised the risk of call-backs.
The study was done for the Partnership for Advancing Technology in Housing and the Dept. of Housing and Urban Development. It came out in June 2006. Here’s a link: Characteristics of Innovative Production Home Builders.
BusinessWeek editors Chris Palmeri, Prashant Gopal and Peter Coy chronicle the highs and lows of the housing and mortgage markets on their Hot Property blog. In print and online, the Hot Property team first wrote about the potential downside of lenders pushing riskier, "option ARM" mortgages and the rise in mortgage fraud back in 2005—well ahead of many other media outlets. In 2008, Hot Property bloggers finished #1 in a ranking of the world's top 100 "most powerful property people" by the British real estate website Global edge. Hot Property was named among the 25 most influential real estate blogs of 2007 by Inman News.