Has the future arrived? When cheap labor was plentiful, an army of laborers trundling bundles of lumber on the job site got the job done. Now that labor is short, however, things may be changing, as evidenced by KB's ProjeKt Home at Greenbuild last month. The Wall Street Journal reports:
A persistent shortage of construction workers across the U.S. is prompting some of the nation’s largest home builders to experiment with a model they once derided: factory production.
KB Home last month unveiled a model home equipped with an energy-efficient kitchen and a rotating audiovisual wall that serves either as a television or video-conferencing system for two adjoining rooms. The high-end, high-tech components all were built in a manufacturing plant and meant to be assembled at the home site, requiring far fewer workers in the field.
KB’s concept home represents the latest technological evolution in the residential construction industry, one of the U.S.’s last bastions of manual labor performed in the elements.
“Automobiles, airplanes and others have been able to utilize these same techniques,” said Dan Bridleman, senior vice president for sustainability, technology and strategic sourcing at KB Home. “Ultimately this is about cost, it’s about efficiency and it’s about speed.”