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Structural Building Components Association partners with 84 Lumber at U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Innovative Housing Showcase

Washington Construction News staff writer

The Structural Building Components Association (SBCA) in partnership with 84 Lumber and the National Framers Council (NFC), demonstrated the future of home construction at the Innovative Housing Showcase (IHS) in Washington, D.C. on June 7, by building a two-story, 2,400-sq. ft.  house on the National Mall in under eight hours.

“This project illustrates how slight changes in a home builder’s normal construction process can significantly impact construction cycle times and allow limited jobsite labor to build more homes more efficiently,” said Jess Lohse, executive director at the SBCA. “The Innovative Housing Showcase is a great opportunity to provide information, knowledge, and a real-time example of all the benefits and efficiencies components, such as trusses and wall panels, bring to the housing industry,” continued Lohse.

As one of the SBCA’s largest national members, 84 Lumber provided all the structural framing elements for the build, including windows, doors, and framing crews.

“This eight-hour build isn’t just some race to the finish or attention-grabbing gimmick,” Ken Kucera, vice-president of installed sales and manufacturing at 84 Lumber, said in a statement. “The build represents the efficiencies of current component manufacturing and installation methods. This makes installation at the job site so much faster and helps the builder’s bottom line and ability to provide quality housing solutions,” said Kucera.

Being able to assemble a home in this time frame has huge benefits to both builders and homebuyers across the nation, Lohse said.

“Jobsite labor is severely constrained across the country and this approach allows existing framing crews to complete more homes more quickly and to provide more homes to ease current demand. Both factors contribute to bringing down the cost of housing, making the dream of owning a home possible for more Americans,” said Sean Shields, director of marketing at the SBCA.

84 Lumber component plants service single-family, multifamily, townhomes, and custom home builders – one single plant can do about four-to-five houses daily. “The plants are all about efficiency, from the types of lumber cut to the design optimization,” said Kucera.

“We’ve made significant investments to expand and modernize our manufacturing capabilities to supply framing elements to home builders across the country. By utilizing roof trusses, wall panels, and open-web floor truss panels manufactured in 84 Lumber’s offsite facilities, jobsite labor crews can fully frame a house in a fraction of the time it would take using traditional stick-framing methods.”

Each individual wall and truss is labeled as to the exact location, so the crew knows exactly where it goes, saving time and money. “This gives the builder a lot of flexibility and makes the jobsite so much faster,” said Kucera.

The materials for the SBCA build come from the company’s Winchester, Virginia location where 84 Lumber associates are trained in production, quality control, logistics, and safety.

“84 Lumber’s expertise and resources make them an ideal partner in capturing the efficiencies inherent in this construction methodology,” Shields said.

In addition to the offsite components, this year’s event highlighted several new developments. The crew installed HVAC mechanicals, electrical, and plumbing in open-web floor trusses, which speeds up installation, reduces field errors, and lowers costs.

Incorporation of new products like insulated wall studs in wall panels to enhance the energy efficiency of the home was also used. The use of both floor panels and roof panels will move even more construction tasks offsite, thus reducing build time further compared to last year. Last year’s build was completed in 12 hours — the new methods employed this year shaved four hours off the build time.

The IHS is an annual public event aimed at highlighting innovative and affordable housing designs and technologies. It’s imperative that the general public and others in the industry be given all the information necessary to continue building the country’s most important product: housing.

“The affordability of today’s homes is a significant challenge for many families, and HUD is at the forefront of seeking solutions. Events like the Innovative Housing Showcase provide a platform for innovators to demonstrate what is possible today and tomorrow to reduce the cost of home construction,” said Lohse.

Innovation is always happening in the construction industry. It should also be noted that these techniques will be fully put to the test as they will be used in the real world.

At the end of the event, the 84 Lumber-provided framing crew will return to the National Mall to disassemble the structure, load it onto trucks, and transport it to a prepared jobsite in Waynesboro, Virginia. Donated to Habitat for Humanity, the structure will become two single-family houses.

“In our area, 40 percent of all households are below the local household survival budget,” said Charlie Frankfort, board chairman of Habitat for Humanity-Waynesboro. “Finding affordable housing is a huge challenge,” said Frankfort. “We are thrilled to be working with the SBCA and NFC again this year to provide two more homes for families in need.”

The designs showcased at IHS have the potential to increase housing supply, reduce construction costs, enhance energy efficiency and resilience, and lower housing expenses for owners and renters.

“The biggest takeaway is that the methodology we use to build our house on the National Mall is available to every builder across the country and can be applied to any building style. This approach is not only efficient but also adaptable, offering significant benefits to both builders and consumers,” said Lohse.

According to the SBCA, nearly 70 percent of homes constructed in America leverage offsite construction technology, particularly in roof trusses, which dates to the 1950s. This method not only decreases construction costs compared to traditional stick-framing, but also significantly enhances a home’s resilience against severe weather conditions, thus drastically underscoring its efficiency, cost-effectiveness, and durability in the construction industry.

The Innovative Housing Showcase aims to raise awareness about innovative and affordable housing designs and technologies to demonstrate how these advancements can boost housing supply, decrease construction costs, increase energy efficiency and resilience, and make housing more affordable for both homeowners and renters.

Mark Buckshon
Mark Buckshonhttps://washingtonconstructionnews.com
Mark Buckshon is the publisher and interim editor of Washington Construction News. He is also president of the Construction News and Report Group of Companies. He combines a journalism and business background, and has published construction trade publications for more than 30 years, after an earlier career in journalism, which culminated when he lived through the transition from Rhodesia to Zimbabwe in 1978-80 as a sub-editor for the Bulawayo Chronicle and a correspondent for a Canadian news service.


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