At a conference earlier this year, management expert Al Trellis suggested that, in fact, having (or even building) a few spec homes isn’t necessarily a bad thing for most small-volume builders. Of course, he’s not suggesting a whole neighborhood of standing inventory, but rather that a couple of specs can actually be valuable assets in a slow sales environment. “You always want to have something built and ready to satisfy an immediate housing need such as a relocation buyer,” says Trellis. In addition, he advocates leveraging the investment in a spec house by using it as a furnished model home, sales office, or design center. It may also serve as a place to train trade workers before letting them loose on a real job and experiment with new products. If builders want to introduce a new floor plan or model that they believe will energize sales, building a single spec home as a model might just fit the bill, which also will keep subs and crews busy and loyal. “The more you can make it work for you, the better,” says Trellis.