Lean Design



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.

Why bother naming your houses? It would be a whole lot easier and more efficient to identify your homes by their square footage. It could be argued that the Saddlebrook should be called the 2429 plan. It makes perfect sense, the plan is 2429 square feet, so let's call it what it is. The purchasing manager, field supervisor, estimator and trades would love it. A simple designation for the plan that is clearly communicated and understood by all.

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