Lean Design

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



Headers, headers everywhere! Nearly every builder I have ever worked with (regardless of geography) initially had far too many headers and/or headers that were way oversized in their homes.

Code requirements are typically 250 percent over failure, so designing above code is typically a waste. An exception is that there are pocket markets where customers require joist design a bit above code to avoid perceived floor deflection or bounce.

It’s easy to do a quick check.

Do a field walk during framing:

Lots of matrimony talk lately. From the saccharin sweet royal wedding to the much publicized split between J’Lo and Marc Anthony - some marriages are meant to last while others fade away. The marriage that I am most excited about (save for my own naturally) is the one between Lean design and curb appeal. These two young lovebirds are guaranteed to make it for the long haul.

Plans, plans, plans, it’s sometimes difficult to know what they should include and what they shouldn’t. After spending the last two years with Scott Sedam and TrueNorth working with builders, suppliers, and trades all over the country we have developed a number of plan dos and don’ts regardless of geography, here are just a few:

Have:

Monday morning 6:30 a.m. Jeff the lead carpenter rolls out the latest set of prints for the new Thornberry model. He sighs as he scans the plans and elevations knowing it is going to be a long week piecing together his latest framing puzzle. He has worked for this builder for 3 years so he recognizes what he calls the Architects “greatest hits”, overly complex dormers, overhangs, and gingerbread details. He knows he will be framing this home at a loss in hopes that the next time he frames it he will realize a profit.

The concept of lean architectural design is often misunderstood. Elimination of design- induced waste in both product and process is the overriding goal of Lean Design. The builders who “get it” know that they must eradicate waste from their plans in order to not be merely competitive, but to survive in today’s economy. Our experience demonstrates that up to 60% of construction waste originates through poor or misdirected planning efforts. This blog post is the first in a series which will outline the key principles of lean design.

I must admit, as an architect involved heavily in the home building business for the last 20 years I have never come across the concept of “Brownies vs Muffins.” During a Lean Plan Workout for a large regional builder, Jim, from the concrete supply company brought this concept to our attention. Jim is a salty old timer who has experienced dealing with many different methods of pouring concrete.

“I thought I saw it once. Rooms designed in twelve foot dimensions, footing dimensions in 24” increments. Sheetrock scraps wouldn’t fill a wheelbarrow. My phone never rang, the trades had all the information they needed and only the information they needed. Then just like that it disappeared, leaving me to wonder if I was only dreaming.”

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