Publications: The Residential Construction Industry

A number of the pieces mentioned below are available from this site. A link is provided at the end of each listing for which there is a pdf available.

Re-Engineering the Home Building Industry: The Past and Future of Residential ConstructionAbstract. The U.S. home building industry has seen tremendous consolidation in recent years, but new research finds limited evidence that larger builders adopted significantly more innovative practices than their smaller competitors in terms of improved buying power, greater IT investment, changes in subcontractor relationships, and streamlining the supply chain. Instead, builder practice and performance were impacted much more by local housing market characteristics such that builders in lower appreciation markets were more efficient and innovative because they faced far greater pressure to hold down costs, while builders in higher appreciation markets had better financial performance even with lower efficiencies and far less attention placed on innovations. This book will include this research as well as a discussion of what home builders can learn from other industries that have successfully adopted many of the IT, supply chain, production, and management practices that have been slow to arrive to the home building industry.

Re-Engineering the Home Building Industry: The Past and Future of Residential ConstructionTable of Contents

The 2005 Harvard University Residential Building Supply in Transition Survey: Divison-Level Builder Survey.

The 2005 Harvard University Residential Building Supply in Transition Survey: Corporate Overview.

"Residential Supply Chain in Transition: Summary of Findings from Survey of Dealers," by the Harvard University Building Products Distribution Study Research Team: Frederick Abernathy, John T. Dunlop, David Weil, William Apgar, Kermit Baker, and Rachel Roth. February 2004. The past several years have seen dramatic changes in the distribution of residential building products, particularly as it relates to dealers serving homebuilders, remodeling contractors and others in the building trades (pro dealers). Whereas consolidation among retailers serving do-it-yourself (D-I-Y) homeowners and smaller remodeling contractors began two decades ago and has resulted in just a few major players today, consolidation among pro dealers is a more recent phenomenon, and is just recently gathering momentum and appears to be giving rise to changes in the distribution channel for residential building products. The goal of the Residential Supply Chain in Transition research is to understand the changes that are occurring and that are likely to occur over the next decade in the residential supply channel. This report summarizes our survey of building product dealers, which has produced the following initial conclusions: 1. The customer base of building product dealers has significantly changed in recent years. 2. With a changing customer base, managing products and inventories is an area of growing concern for dealers. 3. Given the increased inventory risk that dealers have had to assume, they are improving their inventory management capabilities. 4. Dealers have adopted distinctive strategies to deal with pressures from homebuilders and suppliers.

"Consolidation in the Distribution of Residential Building Products," by Rachel Roth, December 2003. The United States Economic Census of Retail Trade has provided evidence of the increase in concentration in the distribution sector of the building materials and supplies industry from 1972 to 1997. Between these years, the share of sales by the top 50 firms in the category grew due to a tremendous increase in the concentration of do-it-yourself (D-I-Y) retailers in combination with a small drop in the number of professional distributors. Reasons for the ongoing consolidation trend include product proliferation (and the response of technology to this proliferation ), economies of scale, shortening of the distribution chain, a low-inflation environment, and a customer base concentration. Several of the above theories of consolidation are being examined in the Harvard Distribution Study, a collaborative effort between the Joint Center for Housing Studies and the Harvard Center for Textile and Apparel Research that seeks to understand the changes that are occurring in the residential supply chain. The first phase of the study looks at companies distributing building products while further phases will examine the industry from the perspectives of both builders and manufacturers.

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