Lean Design

Blogs on Lean Design concepts and implementations for Home Builders and Remodelers



I'm a sucker for a good love story. I get emotional at the end of Pretty Woman, and will watch Can't Buy Me Love over and over again. However, one story that really gets me misty is the love story between custom home clients and Lean Design. It's allure is based on the fact that the pairing of the two is just so rare. It is every bit as rare as the hapless geeky guy getting the prom queen, or the doe eyed working girl (with the heart of gold) ending up with the billionaire corporate raider.

Professional Builder recently held a survey, and to quote Editor-in-Chief Dave Barista: "When it comes to selecting exterior design features and materials for their new homes, buyers are most concerned with the overall curb appeal of the home's exterior ... More than three-quarters of builder respondents (76.6 percent) said 'great design/curb appeal' was an important issue among their buyers."

The title of this blog is tongue in cheek (or maybe foot in mouth) as a follow up to a blog I wrote a while back titled, "Second Floor Laundries are Just Stupid, or are They?"

A young doctor was just setting up his first office when his secretary told him there was a man to see him. The doctor wanted to make a good first impression by having the man think he was successful and very busy. He told his secretary to show the man in.

At that moment, the doctor picked up the telephone and pretended to be having a conversation with a patient. The man waited until the "conversation" was over. Then, the doctor put the telephone down and asked, "Can I help you?"

To which the man replied, "No, I'm just here to connect your telephone."

Better bust out the Grey Poupon for this one. Turrets, steep roof, stone and stucco will drive up the cost per square foot a bit on this design. However, as I have mentioned in the past, Lean Design is not about cost, it is about value. Lean Design focuses on eliminating waste and providing maximum value for the customer through collaborative design.

In a custom home scenario like this one, the collaboration happens with the customer, building team, architect and key trades and suppliers. Let's take a closer look:

“Is this chicken, what I have, or is this fish? I know it's tuna, but it says 'Chicken by the Sea.'"

We can thank Jessica Simpson for addressing that puzzling situation. A bit trickier, however, is the mystery centered around Lean design. Let me help clear it up.

Lean design is an optimization of materials and processes achieved by high-level trade/supplier collaboration. Lean design focuses on the elimination of waste and is viable at ANY price point. A $5 million home can be just as Lean as an $85,000 home.

With Costco, Sam's Club and all the other "buy in bulk" stores out there today pantries are becoming larger and larger. Builders are finding it tough to compete if they are offering standard cabinet pantries (even in smaller homes). The answer to this is to provide a corner pantry. It takes up relatively little real estate and eliminates a blind corner.

My Aunt Janice (rest her soul) gave amazing Christmas gifts when I was a kid. One of my favorites was “Hugo the man with a thousand faces.” It was basically a bald plastic head with a case full of disguise equipment. Hugo had mustaches, glasses, eyebrows and wigs galore. Cool gift, wish they still made ‘em.

This week we will look at a Lean-designed, 2,400-square-foot home designed for a growing family. This home picks up on many current trends in housing and, like Hugo, it has the ability to morph into countless facades. Let’s take a closer look:

I catch myself from time to time spending money on things that I just don’t need to.  Whether it’s the cool action video I think I will watch after the (wife selected) romcom,  the twenty piece Mcnugget vs. ten, or the third hot dog at Home Depot, it’s all waste – well, usually anyway.

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