Although the great recession is over, it’s more difficult than ever for U.S. home builders to turn a profit. Home prices are not rising fast enough to cover the cost of constructing a house, which has steadily increased from 53% of sales price in 1995 to 62% in 2013. The cost of construction per square foot is up, too—from $80 per square foot in 2011 to $95 in 2013, according to the NAHB.

Besides rising costs, builders face a host of other issues that impact their bottom lines and the way they build houses. Those armies of laborers who used to populate jobsites are largely gone, leaving a worker shortage in their wake. Building codes are getting tougher, and nascent energy codes promise to make them more so. And in many markets, affordable land in desirable locations seems to be a thing of the past.

With this in mind, here’s a look at building methods that are gaining traction because they save time, money, and headaches—or all of the above—while producing better results and more energy savings. Click on the headlines for more information about each method.


The Epitome basement foundation system encompasses air and moisture barriers and insulation.
Todd Detwiler The Epitome basement foundation system encompasses air and moisture barriers and insulation.

Composite Foundation Panels Speed Up Construction


Because they’re unvented, sealed crawlspaces require a terminal that brings in conditioned air.
Todd Detwiler Because they’re unvented, sealed crawlspaces require a terminal that brings in conditioned air.

Why Closed Crawlspaces Make Sense


Prefab wall panels are shipped to the jobsite and craned into place.
Todd Detwiler Prefab wall panels are shipped to the jobsite and craned into place.

Prefab Wall Systems Save on Labor


Liquid vapor barriers are sprayed onto the exterior of a home to make it air and water tight.
Todd Detwiler Liquid vapor barriers are sprayed onto the exterior of a home to make it air and water tight.

Liquid-Applied Vapor Barriers Provide a Uniform Coating


Products such as BASF’s HP+ Wall System provide time-saving solutions to more than one construction issue.
Todd Detwiler Products such as BASF’s HP+ Wall System provide time-saving solutions to more than one construction issue.

Multipurpose Products Make Quick Work of Construction Tasks