A House Manufacturer's Dilemmas
Why and how to fabricate and design configurable houses? House manufacturers are increasingly putting more effort into creating their own house products. It makes good sense since the sub-contractor model does not work very well for for house manufacturers various reasons. Sub-contractors have generally less control over the design-to-production process, generate lower profit margins, and their workflow is more unpredictable and interrupted by external players. A big bottle-neck in the process is usually the design phase. Projects tend to bounce between architects, the manufacturer's engineering and design team, and the client. The sub-contracting process is often very repetitive yet with fine nuances that does not make a good case for automation and increasing the overall performance of the factory.
Many house manufacturers abandon the sub-contractor model and choose to develop their own house product. The Product development can also be risky but mostly because it is often done in a wrong way. Many tend to forget or ignore the fact that methods of product development are different from linear project management tools. For example, a typical mistake is to forget about getting constant customer feedback. Feedback is required throughout the development phase. The earlier the feedback is received, the easier is to adjust the direction and to find a good product-market fit.
Those teams who opt in for product design and development will sooner or later face another difficult choice. Many product teams often set out on the quest of creating a beautiful design jewel - a nicely packaged and shiny piece of building. Like an iPhone, many teams are thinking among themselves. But they forget that iPhones come in hundreds if not thousands of configurations - in different colours, technical specifications and with ability of customer to choose the software applications.
Those teams forget that - in order to be successful - their house should be adjusted to fit different context and meet different lifestyle requirements. A truly mass-customiseable house product is both mass-localized and mass-personalized. Why? Because there are two potential clients wanting to adjust the design to their needs. Small and medium scale property developers need meet the local building codes (i.e. localize houses), while individual home buyers have an appetite for personal solutions (i.e. personalize houses).
House configurators offers a way do both. It is a mechanism of presenting your concept house and getting early feedback directly from the market. Later, it allows you to automatically generate pricing offers and manage design customisations. If you are thinking of creating a custom build or modular house product, give me a shout. I'm happy to discuss your product ideas and the related design, marketing and sales challenges.