5 Methods for Building Homes Faster in 2020

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Screen Shot 2020 01 06 at 8 20 21 AM

In 2020, as contractors continue to struggle with ongoing labor shortages, they must turn to innovative methods, like Fox Blocks ICFs, that both reduce labor needs and accelerates home construction. The Fox Blocks all-in-one wall system eliminates the need to coordinate multiple trades, which significantly quickens project delivery while still achieving all of the wall system's goals. Four other methods for building homes faster in 2020 include modular construction, 3D printing, PEX pipe, and wireless technology.

New Home Construction Hits Historic Lows

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According to Freddie Mac, in 2019, in the U.S., the building of new homes fell short of long-term demands for housing by 370,000 homes. Concernedly, a recent report by the Harvard University Joint Center for Housing Studies blames these historic lows in new home construction on the increases in home and rent prices across the country. Then, in late 2018, as interest rates rose, new construction further slowed down. Even after the Feds decreased rates in early 2019, the housing market continued to cool. The Harvard study attributes this to a lack of affordable housing for middle- and low-income families.

Unfortunately, if the current housing supply trends persist, home prices and rents will continue to rise, further limiting housing options for many in the country.

Labor Shortage Slows New Home Construction

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The building industry cites a lack of qualified construction workers as the major obstacle holding up their construction projects. The U.S. Labor Bureau reported 379,000 vacant construction jobs as of August 2019 in the United States.

Many blame the labor shortages on difficulties in recruiting a new generation of workers, along with the immigration policies under the Trump administration chasing away needed employees. In the past, immigrants filled many of the currently unfilled construction jobs. In fact, in 2016, immigrants made up about 37 percent of the construction labor in the U.S. Skilled laborers, like plasterers and stucco masons, represented an even higher percentage of 54%.

5 Methods for Building Homes Faster in 2020

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Building new homes, particularly affordable ones for middle- and low-income individuals and families, provides an obvious solution to the housing shortages; however, a clear problem exists in the building industry - labor shortage. The country desperately needs more homes, but builders lack the laborers to complete the projects with quality construction to meet new energy and building codes, in a timely manner.

With no short-term solution to labor shortages, builders must turn to new building materials and methods that provide a better way to build homes with less labor.

Here are five ways builders can speed up home construction:

1. Insulated Concrete Form (ICF) Construction

ICF construction, like Fox Blocks, saves on construction time over traditional stick-built or concrete masonry unit (CMS) home construction. Unlike these traditional methods, Fox Blocks provides these 5 construction steps with 1 ICF product - structure, continuous insulation, furring attachments, and air and vapor barrier all in one simple installation step for above and below grade walls.

A small team of trained ICF builders can lay the blocks for a single-story house in a single day - pouring the concrete on the second day. In two short days, builders can have the exterior walls ready for the roof, windows and doors to make the building weather tight, ready for interior services and finishes.

ICF construction also eliminates the need for caulking or sealing. ICFs provide continuous air and vapor barrier.

Furthermore, subcontractors can quickly install plumbing, electrical, and HVAC because of the ease in cutting the foam.

2. Modular Construction

Much of the building of a modular home (the modules or boxes) occurs off-site in a factory. The shipment of the modules to the job site happens on flatbed trucks. The level of completeness of the boxes at the factory varies. Some new homeowners order an empty box so that they can complete the construction on site. Others order their modules complete with built-ins, flooring, appliances, etc.

The construction of modular homes coincides with on-site and foundation work; therefore, modular projects finish 30-50 percent faster than traditional construction. Modular construction has limitations on the flexibility of design.

3. 3D Printing

3D printing in the construction industry provides a method that improves time management and hastens production, which provides a huge reduction in cost.

3D printing (also called additive manufacturing (AM) involves a computer-controlled sequential layering of products. The process produces three-dimensional shapes. 3D printing quickens construction time because a 600 to 800-square-foot home can be in just 24 hours.

4. PEX pipe

For plumbing a house, PEX pipe with quick-connect compression fittings provides a much faster method than copper and solder.

5. Wireless technology

For installing electrical features in a home, wireless technology reduces the time electrician must spend wiring a new house. Furthermore, electrical innovations, like wire-free switches, will separate the toggle switch from the electrical contacts and eliminate the installation of wire, pipe, and boxes needed for traditional wired switches.

Building a Home Faster With Fox Blocks ICFs

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Numerous communities in the U.S. need new and affordable housing. Unfortunately, many builders struggle to meet the demands for new housing due to labor shortages.

Fortunately, in 2020, several technologies, like Fox Blocks, ICFs allow builders to construct new homes faster and with less labor. For instance, the Fox Blocks wall assembly combines five building steps into one, including structure, air barrier, insulation, vapor retarder, and attachment. The all-in-one wall system eliminates the need to coordinate multiple trades, which significantly quickens project delivery while still achieving all of the wall system's goals. Fox Blocks offer many other benefits to homeowners, in addition to fast construction.

  1. Energy-efficient Fox Blocks, with high thermal mass and an R-value of 23, exceed ASHRAE/ANSI 90.1 energy code requirements.
  2. Fox Blocks' solid continuous monolithic concrete wall, with a perm rating of less than 1.0, controls moisture in the walls and prevents the growth of unhealthy mold that can degrade the integrity of the house.
  3. Disaster-resistant Fox Blocks can stand up to winds of over 200 MPH, and flying debris moving over 100 MPH.
  4. Fox Blocks attains a Sound Transmission Classification (ASTM E90) of 4-inch=STC 46, 6- and 8-inch = STC 50+.
  5. Fox Blocks contain little to no VOC.
  6. Fire-resistant Fox Blocks obtain a fire-resistance rating (ASTM E119) of 4 hours for the 6-inch blocks and 2 hours for the 4-inch blocks.
  7. Fox Blocks lack organic materials, which makes them less susceptible to termite damage. For waterproofing and termite protection, Fox Blocks suggests Polyguard Products, Inc. 650 XTM, or 650 XTP membranes.

Fox Blocks provides Installer training and technical support encouraging more builders and contractors to build high-performance homes with less labor, faster.

For more help on how to build homes faster in 2020, please visit Fox Blocks.