The Lean Builder

The Lean Builder

Among the most frustrating work requirements, whether in business, education, volunteering, or any other endeavor, is how to prioritize the myriad things that cry out to be done.

In these times of increasing sales with decreasing margins, home builders are on a continual campaign to decrease costs.


“Sometimes life – and work – would be easier if you could forget some things you’ve learned.”

Last week’s big announcement of the merger of StanPac and Ryland Group, creating a new member of the Top 5 Homebuilders, spawned a flurry of articles and blogs, most of them suggesting the kingdom

The shortage of qualified trade contractors is a problem that vexes the entire industry and finally people are waking up to it, largely for the wrong reasons.

So who's going to build entry-level? Great question, but until it's solved, everyone else building the move-ups will see their opportunities restricted.

One of my “guilty pleasures” – you know, things that you should be embarrassed to admit you love – is the John Travolta movie, The Phenomenon.

During Operation Desert Storm in the early 90s, France’s decision to not support the U.S. intervention revived an old joke from the World War II era.  

It has been long been said that “homebuilding is a local business” and as much as I’d like to think that Lean always transcends locality, that is not always the case. Last week during one of our LeanWeek events in Austin, the head of a drywall installation company asked about using 54” width drywall—aka “stretch board”—in lieu of standard 48” widths for 9’ ceilings. Nine foot ceilings are rampant in Austin and so many other markets these days—unless of course they are 10’.

I wrote my first article on the coming trade shortages last October about the perils and politics of immigration policy. I wrote the second one in December providing a 10-step immunization plan to protect a builder from the effects of trade shortages. I receive so much mail, pro and con, that for February I published two of the best letters and commented on them.


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