6 | Estimate lazily.
The average lumber takeoff for a 2,500-square-foot house is about $15,000, and 15 percent of that (or $2,250) is commonly added as a “waste factor” built in to accommodate miscuts and shorts caused by vague (or nonexistent) framing layouts and poor site supervision. Tighten your estimating with better framing details and work with your lumber dealer to optimize your frame packages to reduce your waste factor to 5 percent or less. Apply the same discipline to sheathing, drywall, interior trim, and siding to reduce the “lazy tax” of those hard costs, too.—R.B.
7 | Market houses as you always have.
Builders finally realized that customers don’t shop the real estate sections of their Sunday newspapers. But Denver-area marketing consultant Lance Jackson thinks many builders still drink the Kool-Aid about houses selling themselves, so they’re clueless about whether their ads are positioned on the right media platform(s). The goal, says Jackson, should be to engage buyers by cultivating an identifiable brand in a sea of anonymity. Internet outreach should inspire action, not just browsing. And your May-December romance with Facebook and Twitter won’t last if the sparks those social media ignite aren’t fanned by live salespeople who listen and follow up.—J.C.
8 | Overbuild your structural frame.
A quarter-century of real-world research proves that you use more sticks than you need to build a high-quality house. So unless you can truly afford to spend 30 percent more for lumber you don’t need (an amount that Utah builder Guy Haskell, for one, saves by advanced framing), plus the dump fees from the excess waste you’ll create by not value-engineering your structural frame, take a look at using 2x6s at 24 inches on-center, among other optimum value-engineering practices, and then fill those wider and deeper framing cavities with insulation to boost your home’s thermal values, to boot.—R.B.
9 | Tear down and trash it all.
If you’re razing an old structure and building new, think creatively before you haul everything off to the landfill. That pile of debris could contain a trove of vintage items that could give your next project some character—such as antique balustrades, fireplace mantels, wood beams, transoms, and light fixtures. “Think of it as a pile of money and not a pile of waste,” says building scientist Mark LaLiberte.—J.S.
10 | Reduce your sales office hours.
Builders forgot how to sell. They allowed their field salespeople to become order takers when there were plenty of orders to take and left them stranded when market conditions tanked. At that point, a huge disconnect occurred: Some builders started receiving customers “by appointment only,” thereby eliminating any possibility of spontaneity or persuasion; other builders employed “human directionals” to drum up warm bodies. When customers want to shop is unpredictable even in the best of circumstances. Yet many builders’ sales offices are still dark two or three days a week and rarely stay open past 6 p.m.
Posted with permission from Hanley Wood, LLC. Originally posted on Builderonline.com on August 10, 2010 at http://www.builderonline.com/business/50-ways-that-builders-waste-money.aspx
Click here to read ways 11-50 on how home builders waste money.