For those concerned or interested with where our industry is going, this podcast series seems to hit the mark on many levels. Examining how internet giants like Google are having an effect on residential building, and the increasing role of labor disrupting technologies such as automation and 3D printing, Andrew Weinreich's podcast is an important listen.
Weinreich is not a builder, but he is an incredibly successful entrepreneur in the world of social networking. He hit gold before the dot-com crash with SixDegrees - one of the earliest attempts at connecting a "web of contacts" that Weimar speculates failed - after he sold it for $125 milllion - because it pre-dated digital photography). He's since gone on to launch a string of other lucrative social networking firsts, including MeetMoi and Xtify.
What could Weinreich possibly know about homebuilding? Maybe he has his finger on the pulse of important happenings, as evidenced in this compelling suggestion: "Within Google’s most secretive lab, they’ve thought about how to make building construction more efficient to deal with the world’s severe and worsening urban housing shortage." Hmm. Curious.
Or maybe he's misconstruing how our industry works, as we think he might when he asks: "Has the Tesla of new home construction already been launched and we’re yet to hear about it? Or is the space ripe for a new entrepreneur to take the world by storm? How should an entrepreneur think about building and financing a new modern homebuilding factory?"
It's that last word, "factory" where we think he might be looking at all this in the wrong way. Factories require big capital expenditures, and then you're saddled with bulky, heavy pieces that must be shipped across an enormous country, which is also expensive and resource intensive. If the U.S. were the size of Sweden, we might have hit on this transformation decades ago. The transformation is more likely to go in the direction of "site modularization." Something like that is happening already with BMC's Ready Frame (see Ready Frame Reinvent's the Framing Package) . 3D printing, where the factory is brought to the building site, is another possible example that Weinreich does explore. In any case, you should be the one to decide what in Weinreich's podcast series really makes sense.
Jennifer Goodman of BUILDER gives a comprehensive overview of the series.