Bill Justus, David Weekley Homes' vice president, supply services, couldn't think of a reason not to take Boise Engineered Wood Products up on its offer two years ago to look at its home plans with an eye toward saving the company money.
“They take the plans for the home and then they build 3-D models in CAD programs, and they try to find ways to optimize the frame of the house,” says Justus. “The idea for Boise is to put more engineered wood products in the house. But, frankly, if there isn't a cost savings for the builder there is no reason to do it.”
And if there's no cost savings to the builder, there's no bill to pay, says Justus. “How can you lose on something like that? If it doesn't bear any fruit, they eat it.”
Because the drawings and engineering calculations Boise generates for home plans are as detailed as an engineer would produce, Weekley often is able to give Boise's calculations to the home's engineers, “speeding up the process and in some markets decreasing the [engineering] fees,” says Justus.
In addition to the CAD drawings, Boise also produces an exact list of every piece of lumber needed in the home, including dimensions for the components. And, if the builder chooses, the pieces can be pre-cut to size, with predrilled holes for utilities, and information about where each piece goes inkjet—marked on each piece, making assembly easier, and helping to control inventory. The markings make it easier to check each piece, making sure everything ordered was received.
“And they don't just turn this over to you and walk away,” says Justus. “They go into a whole implementation phase with you.” Boise monitors each home plan being built for the first time to make sure its lumber list was correct, adjusting if, for some reason, more lumber is needed or there are extra pieces.
The Build-Rite process can save builders between $500 and $2,500 per home in building costs, says Denny Huston, Boise's sales and marketing manager.
“Contractors have been surprised at the savings Build-Rite can achieve even with plans that have been around for some time, where it was felt that all waste had been wrung out of the job,” said Mike Carver, a manager at Build-Rite Services for Boise.
Weekley is still evaluating whether Build-Rite makes sense in all its markets. In South Florida, for instance, where homes have concrete slab foundations and block walls, it might not produce enough savings to justify the program, says Justus. Still, he thinks it has merit in many places. “In some markets it might be a push today [to justify the program] and then market conditions can change and it will make sense,” he says.