Courtesy Anders Lewendal

Builder Anders Lewendal created an international stir when he set out to build a house in Bozeman, Mont., constructed almost solely from components of U.S. origin.

Using Google, Lewendal sourced as much as he could from American companies, including all-thread, drywall screws, cabinet hinges and concrete J bolts, right down to nails from an Illinois company that he says are less prone to jamming in Chinese-made nail guns.

He says his point is not to foster protectionism but simply to show that just by increasing the percentage of U.S.-made components by as little as 5 percent, the industry can add thousands of new jobs here. "When we’re done, we will have had over 160 companies from more than 30 states involved in this house," he told Builder.

Home automation systems, however, would pose a particular problem, since the chips and CPUs at their heart are all made overseas. But, he adds, "Whirlpool is bringing manufacturing back here from Mexico. Maybe electronics can do that, too."

Dan Daley is a freelance journalist based in New York and Nashville.