Can builders and manufacturers work together to streamline the time-consuming and expensive options selection process? A new organization, New Home Technologies, thinks it can.

New Home Technologies, which officially formed in late June, is an offshoot of 32-member consortium Builder Homesite Inc. (BHI) and includes suppliers such as Whirlpool, Honeywell, Progress Lighting, Square D, and Therma-Tru as investors and equity partners. The new group envisions suppliers feeding their product catalogs into a single database that would be managed by New Home Technologies.

Melissa Morman, COO of BHI and New Home Technologies, says the first Web sites for consumers will be available in the fourth quarter of 2004. Morman adds that builders of all stripes will be able to offer the options selection system to their customers. Suppliers will also have access to the system.

The group's vision is for builders to access the database over the Web and customize it for their customers, setting up a personalized Web site for each buyer. For example, a builder can select which appliances and designs it wants the buyer to see. Buyers could take all the time they needed at home to explore their options and come to the design center better informed about their choices.

"From the suppliers' perspective, they get one vehicle in which they deposit all of their data," says Lisa Kalmbach, senior vice president of KB Home of Los Angeles, who adds that it makes no sense for builders to have an entire department processing options from suppliers.

Wendy Leibowitz writes for BUILDER's sister publication BIG BUILDER.