5 Major Changes Home Builders Have Made During COVID-19

And Which Ones They’ll Keep

Social distancing. In 2019, we’d never heard of it. In 2020, it changed our world. The home building industry, as well as every other business, has been forced to make major adaptations to keep staff and customers safe from a contagious disease that turned the world upside down in a matter of months. Home builders are fortunate in that they have been allowed to continue operating in most places, and the early-2020 demand for homes has, so far, kept many companies busy. Hyphen Solutions and HMS Cornerstone Solutions recently hosted a panel webinar to discover how home builders are meeting the challenge of operating safely in this crisis environment. The solutions involve creativity and a fundamental reassessment of the role technology can play in the industry. 

Changes to Internal Operations

  1. Remote Work. The building industry has remained largely traditional in its approach to office work and on-site teams. However, the crisis forced most office employees to work from home. 

“We haven’t encouraged remote work in the past, but with the effectiveness at which we’ve been able to operate, do we really need this large office space or can we save on overhead and utilize what we’ve learned to allow more of our people to work remotely in the future?” Bill Rectanus, Managing Partner/VP, Thrive Home Builders

  1. Cloud Storage. Teams that were used to dealing with paper, such as accounts payable, had to rapidly switch to electronic documentation and cloud storage to work together while they were apart. Crisis or no crisis, this change has been underway for some time as home builders look for enhanced efficiency and productivity in their processes. 

  2. Video Conferencing. Deprived of personal interactions and onsite meetings, companies looked for ways to maintain the feeling of connection in their teams. Video conferencing, once seen as unnecessary, has become the new normal. 

“Dial-in phone conferences are going to go by the wayside. We’ll continue to rely on video conferencing for our people out in the field or who are working remotely on a temporary or permanent basis because we now know it enables participation at a high level.” Rectanus 

Changes in External Relationships

  1. Cloud-Based, Mobile-Friendly Process Tools. Using industry-focused software to automate processes and share information with suppliers and trades has many benefits. It speeds communication, reduces errors in scheduling and ordering, and ensures that everyone is working with the same information. These tools also make social distancing easier by eliminating the need for anyone to pick up drawings or approvals, drop off invoices, etc.

  2. Digital Sales Tools. This is an industry in which most selling happens face-to-face. In fact, many companies felt that the only way to sell a new home was to put a salesperson and a buyer together in a model home. Now social distancing has required sales teams to use technology to sell creatively. They are using video to showcase features; guiding prospects in exploring websites; used aerials and Google maps to give customers a feel for communities and Zoom to meet and walk buyers through spec homes.

“This has been a seismic shift in our sales process. We’re now leveraging a variety of digital tools to get information into the hands of buyers.” Jared Ambra, Director of Business Systems, Highland Homes

Residential construction has lagged behind many other industries in the use of technology, but we’re catching up in a hurry. During this crisis, home builders have taken advantage of existing technology to solve new problems and have discovered long-term advantages along the way. These changes have staying power, giving building teams more and better tools for communication, information exchange, efficiency, and innovation.

Hyphen Solutions provides over 75,000 builders, installers, and manufacturers with industry-leading supply chain scheduling, procurement and collaboration online solutions. Every year, 40 percent of homes built in the United States are run through Hyphen, because Hyphen delivers greater operational control, better communications and increased productivity and profitability for home builders and their building partners. Contact us today for a free demo, and let’s start building something together.